Social Movements and Community Change - SOCI 360

Graded Assignments

SOCI 360 - SUNY Morrisville
Prof. Kurt Reymers

Reading QuestionsReading Homework Assignments

Music InterpretationsMusic Interpretation Assignments

Research PaperSocial Movements Research Paper

Reading/Video Assignments:

These assignments ask you to reflect on the readings and video assigned to read/watch weekly and answer the questions related to each assignment. They will be due at the end of the week (by Sunday at midnight), unless otherwise indicated.


Week 1. Introduction to Social Movements (360A1)

On the OpenSTAX Textbook Chapter 21:
1. What is the definition of a social movement, according to the text?
2. What are some of the causes of social change?

On the Toby Chow "Social Movements" video:
1. What factors make up a social movement rather than merely a social group or category?
2. What metaphors and examples can be used to explain social movements?
3. How can social movements affect one’s personal psychology?
4. How can it become a problem when confront the norms of society?

On the Lee "Four Types of Social Movements" video:
1. What are the four different types of social movements and along what four dimensions do they differ?
2. Give an example of each type of social movement and explain that example.

Due Sunday, Sept 3
Send as PLAIN TEXT (no attachments, please) to using the
Subject Line: 360A1

Music Interpretation Assignments:

Music Interpretation Due Dates:

MI#1: due NO LATER THAN Sunday Sept 17

MI#2: due NO LATER THAN Sunday Oct 1

MI#3: due NO LATER THAN Sunday Nov 5

MI#4: due NO LATER THAN Sunday Dec 3

In reflecting on the class topics, it’s not hard to come up with an example of a social movements that has been related to in music. For this portion of the class grade, you will be asked to periodically complete a short reaction to the weekly reading assignments in the form of a “music interpretation.” These music interpretations involve you finding a song that you can interpret using the topics related in the assigned readings/videos. This reaction should include the lyrics of the song in question and an interpretation of how the meaning of the song relates to the movements we’re studying each week written as a brief, but concise (at least 250 word) description posted on the course Blackboard page. Students are required to submit four music interpretations in total, which should be spread throughout the course.


Here's an example of what a music interpretation might look like: 

Worker's rights have been a social movement for over a hundred years, and it still is relevant because we are still in a period of capitalism which pits owners of capital against the workers who actually create stuff. The labor/owner divide is certainly more complex than class warfare ideas often portray, but it's clear that musicians are still writing and thinking about it. Back in the 70s there was a band called Rush (the drummer, Neil Peart, got pretty famous for being an amazing player as well as lyricist for the band). His lyrics are really intellectual and often speak to social issues and movements. On their album called Hemispheres, he wrote a song called "The Trees" which is a metaphor about the divide between owners and workers. Here are the lyrics and a link to the song:

There is unrest in the forest
There is trouble with the trees
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas

The trouble with the maples
(And they're quite convinced they're right)
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light
But the oaks can't help their feelings
If they like the way they're made
And they wonder why the maples
Can't be happy in their shade

There is trouble in the forest
And the creatures all have fled
As the maples scream 'Oppression!'
And the oaks just shake their heads

So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights
'The oaks are just too greedy
We will make them give us light'
Now there's no more oak oppression
For they passed a noble law
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axe and saw

"The Trees", Rush, 1978

Clearly, this song is discussing the ownership (Oak) and working (Maple) classes. "Sunlight" in the first stanza represents the rights and resources (money, time, fair conditions, etc.) that the workers (Maples) want, and the owners (Oaks) don't want to give for the sake of reducing profits. "Oppression!" and the Maples forming a union clearly is a reference to the kind of Communist call for class consciousness and for the workers of the world to "unite" (see Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto)! But the last stanza reveals how the author, Neil Peart (b.1952-d.2020), felt about the prospects of labor (the Maples) winning their struggle; in order to have the kind of equality where all the trees will get sunlight, they would be subject to "trimming" the forest -- ALL the trees would suffer from "hatchet, axe, and saw" (for Communist equality to rule, both workers and owners would suffer). 

Okay, now go and find your own song about labor/management, worker's rights, Capitalism and Communism, or a similar issue referred to in our class in the weeks leading up to these assignments. Can't wait to listen and read your interpretations! Best, Dr. K




Social Movement Research Paper:

The Research Paper will be broken down into four assignments as detailed below and due on the following dates:

STEP 1: Social Movement Concept Paper Assignment:

CHOOSE A TOPIC: Write a 2-page (500-word) concept paper with the title in the form of a question, a paper which clearly describes a social movement that you want to research. (Use the introductory notes and this Wiki page to get some ideas of what movements you might choose from). Narrow your topic as specifically as possible and discuss how the movement is related to the experience of its participants as well as how a sociologist might use one or another social theory to understand the movement (see Week 1 notes, readings). Briefly discuss how the movement meets the definition of having a motivation, becoming organized, and the level of social transformation it seeks. What type of movement is it (see Week 1 notes, readings)? The paper should clarify its relevance to you, the main question that is important to you, a thesis statement regarding the main idea about how you want to discuss the movement (this should be summarized as the title question for your paper), and briefly discuss where you might find sources of information to answer your research question and clarify your thesis question.

You should:
(1) save your work as a PDF file (for MS Word use the "Save as..." feature; for Google Docs, "Download as..."), with the
(2) filename starting with your LAST NAME-RP1, then
(3) attach the PDF file to me in an email ( with the subject line reading 360RP1.

Worth 5% of course grade
Due before Sunday Oct 1


STEP 2: Social Movement Citations and Outline Assignment:

Use the library resources available to you to collect more research on the social movement you have chosen to write about in your concept paper.

See my "Research" page for further advice and assistance.
See my "Citations" page for further advice and assistance.

See my "Outlines" page for further advice and assistance.

Here are some other good library reference help guides and source material ideas:
- Wiley Online Library
- Academic One-File
- Opposing Viewpoints

- How to find articles from library databases
How to find newspaper articles
- How to cite sources (APA style)
- How to evaluate sources
- How to contact the library
(Thanks to Professor Fry for sharing these resources from her SOCI 250 course).


Next, create a detailed and annotated outline of your paper that:

(1) uses the same or a similar title as your concept paper,
(2) identifies a clear and logical thesis related to your topic movement,
(3) expressly links to your research citations discovered in your library work,
follows a logical argument from beginning to end to tell your reader why you have come to the conclusion to which you have come (supporting your thesis argument), and
(5) includes a first draft of your references page noting all sources you expect to use in the paper (we use APA style in sociology).

You should:
(1) save your work as a PDF file (for MS Word use the "Save as..." feature; for Google Docs, "Download as..."), with the
(2) filename starting with your LAST NAME-RP2, then
(3) attach the PDF file to me in an email ( with the subject line reading 360RP2.

Worth 5% of course grade
Due Sunday Oct 29


STEP 3: Social Movements Paper Rough Draft Assignment:

Using your outline and references and responding to my critiques of those previous assignments, write a rough draft of your paper. I recommend outlining a structure that relates the content of your research on the movement you have chosen to study to a theoretical understanding of collective behavior and social movements we have studied in class through readings and examples. Utilize a definition and ideas about social movements (from Locher, Blumer, Smelser, Turner and Killian, Edwards, Della Porta, Castells, etc.) to reflect on the specific movement you are studying and tie that to a narrative of (story about) the movement. Develop (or rephrase) your thesis question to reflect particular characteristics of the movement you are interested in and then tie it to the theoretical concepts (e.g. relative deprivation, structural strain, mass society, resource mobilization, framing, identity protection, etc.) that help to illuminate the principles and meaning of the movement in a larger social context. Discuss how specific institutions are affected by the social movement in question and what the outcome was/may be. You should refer to AT LEAST 5 (five) unique research sources in your paper.

The paper must conform to the following stylistic guidelines:
At least 1500 words (approximately 5-7 pages), typed, 1” margins, double-spaced, 10-12 point standard font and using APA-style format. Include a title page and abstract in APA format (include running header). Include a References page as the last page of the paper. Any charts, tables, formulas, or illustrations should appear in an Appendix section before the references page and referred to in the text by number (e.g. "see Appendix 1, Appendix 2, etc."). Use this "sample paper" as a guideline for style.

The paper should be submitted in electronic format (save and send as PDF format ). Use your LAST NAME as the first part of the file name in the file you send to me attached to an email (for example, Reymers-SOCI360-RP3). Email your final paper to

Worth 5% of course grade
Due date: Sunday Nov 19 (send as PDF by email)


STEP 4: Social Movements Final Paper Assignment:

Revise your paper. Address all comments made in the rough draft. Be sure that you understand and communicate that this paper should NOT be merely an historical description or your opinion on the matter. Rather, it SHOULD be an analytical sociology paper, designed for you to apply a theory we've learned in class to the social movement you have researched. See this document about the final draft for more general tips on the final draft.

The final paper should be submitted in PDF format. Use your LAST NAME-RP4 as the first part of the file name in the PDF file you send to me attached to an email. Email your file to

Worth 5% of course grade
Due date: Sunday Dec 10
(also send as PDF by email)