Why It Matters: Social Movements, Media, and Technology

Why summarize the nature and influence of collective behavior and social movements, and assess the impact of the media and technology on social change?


There are routine ways that we contribute to the workings of our society. We follow the laws, we vote, we contact our members of Congress, and we try to get along with one another as best we can. A good example of this is how the group MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) encourage people to think about possible consequences before they drink and drive.

But sometimes the routine ways we use to impact society do not seem sufficient to us, so we use other ways to try to change our society for the better, or to prevent changes we do not like. One example of this is Occupy Wall Street, a movement in 2011 that adopted the slogan of “We are the 99%.” Protesters gathered first in New York, but then around the country (and globe!) to highlight the economic disparities between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of the population.

Three hundred years ago, if people wanted something to change, they took matters into their own hands. If they were living in fear of the Frankenstein in the castle, they might take up their torches and pitchforks, march up to the castle and make demands until the matter of the monster was settled once and for all.

Today, social movements are typically less violent than they may have been hundreds of years ago when villagers took up torches and pitchforks to take up their causes, but now social movements can spread rapidly through social media and become global issues. Instead of small, local movements, some social movements may be international in scope. All of this is made possible through technology and the increase in our global interconnectedness. Watch this video to see how the digital world is changing our world in 2016.


  • Describe the causes and development of collective behavior, social movements, and social change
  • Describe technology in a sociological context
  • Describe the evolution and role of the media in society
  • Understand and discuss how we analyze media and technology through various socialogical perspectives