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Easier communication spreads movement across nation

Communication these days is incredibly fast and easy; it is also highly accessible and comparatively less controlled.

It takes less than a minute to spread the word about an event to thousands of people, which was not the case even 30 years ago.

When I was in grade school, I had a lesson in history detailing the very famous 1857 revolt against the British colonial rule in India. The leaders planning the revolt met secretly and established a date for nation-wide revolt; however, the toughest challenge was to spread the information concerning the date nationally.

British rulers kept a tight watch on what information was being shared in the vernacular newspapers and other forms of public communications. There were hardly any other safe mediums of mass information exchange. The information about the dates was spread across the nation in tiffin boxes.

‘Tiffin box’ is a commonly used phrase for lunch box in India. Working men and women would carry tiffin boxes because the concept of fast food chains was yet to come into existence. It took the planners nearly two years to spread the information about the date for the revolt.

The revolt ultimately failed because individuals in one of the regions initiated it a few days prior to the decided date and the British scented a malicious scheme. Nowadays, all it takes is to create an event on one of the social media websites and click invite all. Thus, I say communication has revolutionized social movements.

Social change is not an innocent process. Change is a constant struggle. It is a negotiation between various competing forces. Social movements spurring up from the grassroots were and are important change makers. They are powerful because the agenda is set directly by the aspirants of the change.

There is minimal to no interference of an external expert. Grassroots social movements are also preferred because their goals are long-term and sustainable in nature. Despite the overt advantages of grassroots social movements, their fundamental weakness was the flow of information. Prompt and accurate exchange of communication was crucial to the success of a social movement.

With modern mediums of communication this weakness has been transformed into strength. To give you an example, the movement at the University this past week was successful in gathering substantial crowd strength in much less time. I cannot stress enough that access, affordability, accuracy and speed of communication have made grassroots social movements unimaginably powerful.

Support from agencies or an individual is another variable highly important to the sustenance grassroots social movements. Mediated communication and networks have aided in gathering seamless supports for the campaigns. Geographical boundaries have been eliminated. We still have to figure out, though, a way to eliminate physical boundaries. University alumni sitting in Mongolia can support the movements happening here in Bowling Green.

Support in this age of modern communication and technology has surpassed the traditional boundaries.

Lack of cohesion is a criticism of grassroots social movements. Effective communication management can address the issue of cohesion in the grassroots social movements. Ability to receive and send communication at will among the members of the group also to a great extent addresses the issue of hierarchy. Instead of top-down it becomes a horizontal structure, which is believed to be more participative, dialogic and collaborative in nature.

I may say two things with certainty here. Firstly, social change cannot be manufactured or in other words there does not exist a unique formula that can bring about social change. And secondly, addition of effective communication can certainly increase the effectiveness of the grassroots social movements.

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