The Riots – Can Direct Action Ever Be A Good Thing?


The Riots – Can Direct Action Ever Be A Good Thing? Direct Action from a Sociological Point of View

In the last few blogs, we have talked about the riots from a sociological (and psychological) point of view. Direct action is a form of political activity that takes place outside the normal political processes. Direct action can occur when a group feels that it is not being represented or heard by traditional political methods (political parties, pressure groups, and so on).

Direct Action can obviously involve events such as riots, as we saw in the UK in the summer. But Direct Action can also take other forms, such as:

  • vandalism
  • terrorism
  • boycotts
  • sit-ins
  • demonstrations.

But is Direct Action always a bad thing?

In 1950s America, black passengers were supposed to sit at the back of the bus or give up their seats to white people. In 1955, Rosa Parks, a black woman from Montgomery, Alabama refused to give up her seat for a white person. She was arrested. Martin Luther King, her local church minister, called for all black people in Montgomery to boycott the bus company. This lasted until the bus segregation laws were removed and resulted in political and social change in America, and the ending of much of this segregation.

Disabled people in the UK have chained themselves to the railings in Downing Street to protest again government social policy relating to disabled people.

The Suffragette Movement in the UK was a famous form of direct action, where women protested against their lack of a vote by chaining themselves to railings, holding demonstrations and fighting the police. This finally resulted in women in the UK receiving the vote. More recently, women have joined in Reclaim the Night rallies to protest again male sexual violence.

There are many more examples, but this shows that sometimes direct action can result in positive social changes.

Tracey Jones

Tutor

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