People have gathered for millennium while upset at the current direction of society, in efforts to change the status quo or persuade their rulers that a change in status quo is needed. This type of action could easily be referred to as a social movement. Yet what makes this a social movement is very hard to define. Our text defines a social movement as “an uninstitutionalized collectivity that operates on a sustained basis to exert external influence in behalf of a cause” (Simmons & Jones, 480). The requirement to that definition that a movement must be able “to exert external influence” is essential because they must be seen or heard by the population it exists within, yet it does not specify who or what is getting influenced. The cause is not necessarily a movement if it is not advocating to the larger population it exists within for understanding or approval. In short, social movements are identified by their ability to draw action for greater numbers or understanding by the group they are trying to influence hopefully changing a society. I would amend the definition to read that a social movement is “an uninstitutionalized collectivity that operates on a sustained basis and actively seeks greater understanding by a population it represents in behalf of a cause.” Social movements bring forward issues and topics that are often forgot about or put on the back burner by those in power. This tweak to the definition highlights that social movements are actively trying to bring about awareness of a cause by creating a population that has greater understanding on the importance of the issue. This definition excludes groups that would be lobbying or petitioning the government as social movements are concerned with mobilizing the people. In addition, groups that are formed to change the operations of a body are doing nothing to help themselves and therefore no movement exists. Instead, to be considered a social movement, they must actively seek out a greater understanding by the public to bring validity to their cause. Mobilizing the people is essential to a social movement and by adding to the definition it places more emphasis on the fact that social movements are putting pressure on society to change for the better. Since social movements are grounded in uninstitutionalized roots, their change can only come through mobilizing the people to in their society. This new definition emphasizes that fact.
I choose to analyze a movement that has been a current issue for Americans, yet not as heavy as some of the other topics in our blog. The movement is not aimed at changing any governmental law, but changing our society in a positive way. Childhood obesity in this country is continuing to rise and has become an issue for society. As the Boise Healthy Living Examiner states in 2011, the national average for childhood obesity was 31.5 percent.(Bush) That means that a little under one third of US children are at a high risk of developing high blood pressure, high colestorol, type-2 diabetes, joint problems, sleep apnea and asthma. (CDC) The movement I choose to analyze is the Play 60 movement, championed by the National Football League. The Play 60 movement must meet all criteria set forward in the definition, so let’s break it down statement by statement. First, this movement must be an uninstitutionalized collectivity. Now, the NFL is a large entertainment body, but in no way does it enforce societal rules or govern our behavior so the movement is not a part of our institution. It also has organized a large group of people, all over America in support of decreasing childhood obesity. Second, it must be on a sustained basis for a cause. The Play 60 movement was introduced in 2007 and it has contributed constantly to the cause of cutting down childhood obesity through suggesting to kids and their parents they need at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day. (Bush, The Boise Healthy Living Examiner) The cause is clearly defined as cutting childhood obesity through the play time and it has been active since 2007 by bringing NFL players to schools and even putting commercials on the airwaves. Last, in my definition, the movement must actively seek greater understanding by population it represents. The NFL and schools everywhere have been actively trying to change societal norms by challenging kids to go outside and play for 60 minutes a day. It is all too easy and accepted for kids to play video games or search the internet.
The artifact I have chosen is a commercial that describes the aims of the movement in a very funny, yet compelling way. The Play 60 movement aims to get the word out to parents and kids that 60 minutes of playtime will lead to a healthier more motivated lifestyle and eventually maybe a healthier society. The commercial engages both of these groups through its use of humor, star power and a normal child. The commercial is persuasive to kids because it shows a kid with his hometown idol, Cam Newton. Cam promises that if he eats right and exercises daily he will grow up to be a strong and healthy adult. All kids would be persuaded by this commercial because they idolized these players and often pretend they are these people when playing. The background of a normal park behind the child helps to get both parents and children to understand that 60 minutes can help every child. The humor of the commercial as it continues brings parents into the message and focuses their attention to the Play 60 movement’s goal of 60 minutes of play per day. Through Burke’s Pentad a ratio of Agent: Act this message will be persuasive to the audience. The commercial is aimed at getting both parents and children to realize that 60 minutes of play per day leads to a healthy lifestyle and maybe even the opportunity to become an athlete.