Understanding Social Change

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Minority Influence

The Role of Minority Influence

Social psychologist Moscovici 

-Believed that believed that majority influence was not the only way that pressure was exerted to make any kind of social change 

-Without an outspoken minority advocating a different way of doing things, we would have no innovation or social chnage 

-His idea of influence is based on the idea that if an individual proposed a persausive argument under certain conditions they may change their own views to match the minorities view = conversion

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Conditions necessary for minority social change

Drawing attention to an issue  

When a minority group wants to get a message across it has to draw attention to the issue, by proposing different idea to that of the majority it causes an unresolved conflict. Naturally, this conflict wants to be resolved and thus can cause social change.

An example of this is the civil rihs group Fathers 4 Justice that pull stunts often in costume to draw attention to the rights of dads in divorce.

The role of conflict

We cannot always dismiss a minority group as 'odd' or 'abnormal' and so the conflict remains

As the majority group examins the conflict more closely, if the argument is strong, it causes the majority to think more deeply into the issue at hand. 

E.g. a leaflet against animal testing may cause a person to think more deeply about the issue - may chnage the consumer to buy cruelty free products instead - more and more people may do this which induces a change


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Evaluation for the power of minority influence on

The suffragettes

WOmen were frustrated at the governments reluctantly to give women the vote:

-A group of women organised themselves into a social movement 

Drawing attention to the issue; used educational, political, and militant tactics to draw attention to not having the same political rights as men

-The role of conflict; they were advocating something very different to the way things were which presented conflict to many of the public - some dismissed the sufrogettes others dealt with the conflict by moving towards the movement 

-COnsistency; they were consistent in putting across their views regardless of the attitudes around them, it continued over 15 years even through they were subjected to imprisonment their protests continued in jail

-The argument principle; they were willing to suffer - imprisonment startvation and even death for their cause Emily Davison stepped out infront of the Kings Horse during 1913 derby and died 4 days later

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Evaluation for the power of minority influence on

Minority influence doesn't always lead to social change

The tendancy of most people to go along with the crowd simply maintain the status quo may be why social change takes such a long time

Minorities are disadvantaged as they lack social positioning and being seen as deviant 

Majorities tend not to agree with minorities for fear of being seen as being deviant

-Often leads to being LATENT (creates potential for change, not actual change)

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Conditions necessary for minority social change 2


  • Minorities tend to be more influential in brining about social change when their aguements persue with consistency 
  • -If views are consistent and express the issue consistently over time they are more likely to be taken seriously 
  • -Wood et al carried out a meta-analyis of 97-studies of minorty influence and found minorities who were consistent in their positions were particularly influential

The argument principle

  • -If there is risk involved in a certain point then people are more likely to be taken seriously
  • -It poses the question 'if they are putting themselves at risk,maybe they have a good point'? as those who are viewed to put theselves in danger for a cause are more likely to be taken seriously by others (in is an increased argument)
  • -Demonstrated by the SOlidarity trade union in poland that emerged from a strike for wokers rights at Lenin shipyards - government censorship, intimiadation and imprisonment of it's leaders led to a social involvement of 10mil members = overthrow of government (communist)  
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