Table of contents
A Theoretical approach to Social Movements
Social Movements: Homogeneous Entitites?
Tactics and Strategies
Violence and Terrorism
Terrorism and Social Movements
The 1968s Movement in Germany
New Left Terrorism
The RAF and the Movement
The RAF and the violence
Social Movements are one of the main forms of collectives that formulate a goal they want to achieve. This occurs under the use of various strategies to show their demands like collective protests and demonstrations. Social Movements are an important vehicle for the public to gain attention and formulate needs. In the society those Movements are standing next to other more institutionalized ways of protests, so they are an actor among others. Today Social Movements represent an important part of the social landscape. They are different movements dealing with a lot of topics like abortion, human and civil rights, environmental protection, women etc. Also the Movements can have a global or a local nature. According to the development of Social Movements the researchers David A. Snow, Sarah A. Soule and Hanspeter Kriesi suggested that the society of the 21st century can be characterized as a movement society. One important step for the development and the proliferation of Social Movements are the 1960s. Even if there is no consensus among the scholars about the exact impact, the 1960s form a remarkable step in the history of Social Movements. In Germany this step was represented by the Student Movement of 1968 that, even if most of the political goals the movement wanted to achieve failed, played an important role.1
Social movements are fuzzy phenomena and moving targets so it is difficult to give a definition about them. In structural terms a social movement is like a network of individuals, groups and or organizations. A network has no top and no clear center that could steer and control the whole of its activities Also the use of collective public protest is a key strategy of any social movement to pursue their goal. These strategies can also include the use of violence. This homework is going to show the connection of the Social Movement in Germany 1968, their image and their use of violence, together with the most extreme form of violence, the terrorism of the RAF.2
A theoretical Approach to Social Movements
Together with the proliferation of Social Movements, also the scholarly research towards this aspect expanded. There are many different attempts and approaches to give a definition about Social Movements. One of the most common definitions was constructed by Dieter Rucht. He sees Social Movements as “a network of individuals, groups and organizations that, based on a sense of collective identity, seek to bring about social change (or resist social change) primarily by means of collective protests.”3
This definition and many others too, use the so called 7 conceptual axes of Social Movements that will be presented in the following chapter to explain some characteristics of Social Movements.
First of all Social Movements can be seen as a form of collective action outside the ordinary institutional channels. This actions consists of any goal directed action or activity by two or more people. Also it includes a large amount of different behaviors and opinions, an aspect that will become important in the course of this homework when it is dealt with the aspect of violence. In general Social Movements are no homogenous entities. Nevertheless they are defined through their actions and tactics that are used to achieve the goal of the movement.4
The second conceptual axis deals with Social Movements and Collective Behavior. Social Movements as a form of collective action therefore includes collective behavior, too. This behavior can vary from movement to movement and there are also some other behaviors that are not related especially to social movements but to other forms of collectives like riots or crowd panics etc. A third axis that is important to keep in mind is the connection between social movements and other interests groups. It is possible that several overlaps and similarities existing between both according to goals and actions. An important difference is that Interest Groups are mainly defined through their actions to the government or the politics while social movements are able to act beyond to borders. Interest groups are often well established in a political system and are seen as legitimate actors within this system. The social movements on the other side have more an outstanding nature. This can also be monitored by their actions. Interest groups on the one hand often use the institutional way to achieve their goals, while social movements on the other hand are also able to use more non- institutional ways like public demonstrations and protests to formulate their demands and goals. Both types can be very similar towards each other, especially when they are dealing with the same topic, but there are also some important distinctions that cannot be left out. It is more like that different kind of strategies and tactics produces two types of kinds in the same species, the collectives.5
Another important aspect is the overlapping structure of Social Movements in general. Like the chapter before social movements can have a lot of similarities with interest groups. This statement is also valid for other forms of collective actors. On the other side social movements can transform to a more institutionalized form over time. The conceptual axes that are often used when it comes to a definition of social movements also include the role of social movements as defenders or challengers of existing authority. They are in business of seeking or halting change, independent from the exact level.6
Social Movements include also some kind of organization that can vary from movement to movement. The level of organization can also differ within one movement. Especially the fact that social movements base on different parties and groups makes it necessary form some kind of organization At least social movements are episodic, they do not occur periodically. That does not mean that they are naturally short lived but it means that they can occur and disappear in a very short time period. The kind of change the movement tries to achieve makes it necessary for some kind of continuity.7
Social Movements: Homogenous entities?
It is useful to look at the structural nature of entities when you want to explain some special aspects like the use of violence in a Movement. Social movements are complex entities that based on different parties and boundaries, networks and also organizations. They have linking bonds with allies, potential allies and are permanently seeking for those to strengthen their position. These alliances are especially important when the Movement represents a minor opinion or is very small. It is false to think about the acting of social movements as a two party struggle between the Movement and his opponent. Different parties and groups are acting within a social movement.8
During the research history they were also various attempts to characterize Social Movements through their alliances and the conflict parties but this approach showed himself as useless because it neglected the role of third parties, bystanders etc. Also the actions of a social movement can occur on different levels from local to global. Alliances and cooperation is essential for a social movement but they can also disappear very quickly. On the other side it is unclear how big the amount of organization that is necessary for a movement is, this depends on the movement itself.9
The different groups in a social movement can also compete with each other e.g. when the movement consists of more radical and more moderate parts. In general all the different parts of a movement are acting in coexistence within the whole movement. There can be different struggles like a conflict about the goal or the resources. Nearly every movement has some kind of struggle, due to their nature with different actors that can vary from question about the leadership or the goal to the sharing of resources. Social movements are fuzzy structures with different relations and struggles within and with others that can scale from competition to bloody conflict. They are transforming entities.10
Because of the fuzzy structure of social movements the factor of contagion is also very important. Social movements are not bounded entities. There is also a high level of interaction. Also throughout the whole development and acting of the movement there occur innovations like the use of violence. If it is successful it spreads through the whole movement? Adopting new ideas also depends on the conformity towards ideas among the members. When they are compatible it is more possible to adapt them. Another aspect is the advantage of the new tactic.11
Tactics and Strategies
The success of Movements depends on their effective use of possible acting strategies. The way of their actions determines the attention they gain and in the end the final success related to the goals. Public protests, demonstrations or other unconventional methods of political participation are one of the most important characteristics of social movements. It distinguishes them from other political actors. According to the scholars Taylor/Van Dyke the tactics of social movements consist of various types and methods like lobbying and elections, marches and protests and even actions including the use of violence and arousing the economic damage or the loss of human lives. Contrary the methods of these movements can be of cultural nature, too e.g. making music, poetry, festivals etc. But it is the use of new and unusual methods of formulating and achieving a goal that distinguishes the Social Movements from other political actors like Interest Groups. These methods can be so formative that some of the Social Movements in history are more famous for their strategies than their goals they want to achieve. The actual scholarly research divides the tactics of social movements into two different types. First, the non-confrontational or insider tactics that include boycotts, petitions, letter-writing, campaigns, lobbying, press conferences, lawsuits etc. The other type are the confrontational or outsider tactics and strategies that contain demonstrations, marches, strikes, blockades and other illegal actions including also violent ones like bombings.12
Three aspects are important to keep in mind when dealing with the tactics of Social Movements: contestation, intentionality and collective identity. The tactics and actions are sites of contestation, by means of the movement try to bring or resist change. The second component, Intentionality, means that all other aspects of the movement like strategic decision making or the organization influence the tactical repertoire of the movement. The last defining feature of the tactical repertoire is the collective identity. The actions of the movement do not only serve to achieve an external goal, they also build up an important internal dimension like bringing up a common we-feeling, strengthen the boundaries between the different groups in the movement etc.13
When a Social Movement tries to achieve their goals through actions, whatever nature they are, a process is starting. This process come along with every movement and leads to institutionalization or radicalization. This process accelerates when the normal disruptive tactics of a social movement lose their shock effect. At this point there are various possibilities for the movement itself. It can follow the institutional way to hold the position and trying to forge alliances or to compete with other organizations in reference to members and influence. The alternative is to become more radical, expanding the methods of protests, using violent actions. With this attempt the movement tries to reconstruct the former shock effect of the movement to achieve their goals.14
The chosen tactics has an important influence on the success of the social movement. The choice depends on three aspects: the level of organization, cultural frames of meaning used to justify the actions and in the end the structural power of the participants. In general there are some aspects that play an important role for a social movement according to their ability to create change: novelty, militancy, variety, size and cultural resonance. This work will focus on the aspect of militancy and violence. They heavy use of disruptive tactics can provide help to achieve the change. On contrary it can also lead to a backlash against the movement. High risk collective actions can lead the activists to participate in other forms of protests or other movements. Also the aspect of cultural resonance is important. How the tactics achieve a change in the values and thoughts of the public.15
1 Vgl. Horn, Gerd-Rainer: 1968: A Social Movement Sui Generis, S.1-24, here S.1, unter: https://e-learning.ruhr- unibochum.de/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fex ecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_99211_1%26url%3D; Snow, David A., Soule, Sarah A., Kriesi, Hanspeter: Mapping the Terrain, in: David A. Snow, Sarah A. Soule and Hanspeter Kriesi (Ed.): The Blackwell Companion to Social Movements. Malden 2004, S.3-16, here S. 3, following quoted as: Snow, David A., Soule, Sarah A., Kriesi, Hanspeter: Mapping the Terrain, S.3; Gerd Rainer Horn: 1968, A Social Movement sui generis.
2 Vgl. Rucht, Dieter: Studying Social Movements: Some Conceptual Challenges, S.1-20, here S.5, unter: https://elearning.ruhrunibochum.de/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps %2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_99211_1%26url%3D, following quoted as: Rucht, Dieter: Studying Social Movements. Some Conceptual Challenges, S.5
3 Rucht, Dieter: Studying Social Movements. Some Conceptual Challenges, S.6.
4 Vgl. Snow, David A., Soule, Sarah A., Kriesi, Hanspeter: Mapping the Terrain, S.6.
5 Vgl. Snow, David A., Soule, Sarah A., Kriesi, Hanspeter: Mapping the Terrain, S.7.
6 Vgl. Snow, David A., Soule, Sarah A., Kriesi, Hanspeter: Mapping the Terrain, S.8.
7 Vgl. Snow, David A., Soule, Sarah A., Kriesi, Hanspeter: Mapping the Terrain, S.11.
8 Vgl. Rucht, Dieter: Movement Allies, Adversaries and Third Parties, in: David A. Snow, Sarah A. Soule, Hanspeter Kriesi (Ed.): The Blackwell Companion to Social Movements. Malden 2004, S.197-213, here S.197, following quoted as: Rucht, Dieter: Movement Allies, Adversaries and Third Parties, S.197.
9 Vgl. Rucht, Dieter: Movement Allies, Adversaries and Third Parties, S.203.
10 Vgl. Rucht, Dieter: Movement Allies, Adversaries and Third Parties, S.205.
11 Vgl. Soule, Sarah A.: Diffussion Processes within and across Social Movements, in: David A. Snow, Sarah A. Soule and Hanspeter Kriesi (Ed.): The Blackwell Companion to Social Movements. Malden 2004, S.294-306, here S.295.
12 Vgl. Taylor, Verta, van Dyke, Nella: „Get up, Stand up“͘ Tactical Repertoires of Social Movements, in: : David A. Snow, Sarah A. Soule and Hanspeter Kriesi (Ed.): The Blackwell Companion to Social Movements. Malden 2004, S.262-284, here S͘263, following quoted as: Taylor, Verta, van Dyke, Nella: “Get up, Stand up”͘ Tactical Repertoires of Social Movements, S.263.
13 Vgl͘ Taylor, Verta, van Dyke, Nella: “Get up, Stand up”͘ Tactical Repertoires of Social Movements, S͘269͘
14 Vgl͘ Taylor, Verta, van Dyke, Nella: “Get up, Stand up”͘ Tactical Repertoires of Social Movements, S.274.
15 Vgl͘ Taylor, Verta, van Dyke, Nella: “Get up, Stand up”͘ Tactical Repertoires of Social Movements, S͘280͘
- Arbeit zitieren
- Fabian Lukas (Autor), 2014, 1968 and the RAF. The Development of Violence and Terrorism from a Social Movement, München, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/299450