Social movement can be divided into four typed in accordance with their primary characteristics:
Revolutionary social movements are movements that intent to bring political upheaval and radical social change to the society. Revolutionary movements often seek to bring about greater social equality and to remove one individual, family, ethnicity or social class’ monopoly on power and wealth. For example the Abolitionist movement in the American South sought to bring an end to the endemic social institution of slavery.
Reform movements seek to bring about positive changes in the social order while not attempting to radically threaten the existing social hierarchy. An example of a reform movement would be a movement that called for better treatment of slaves rather than an end to slavery.
Conservative movements seek to perpetuate the existing social order and to resist the influences which they view as threatening to the status quo. The work of pro-slavery preachers in the antebellum American South may be viewed as a conservative movement.
Reactionary movements are radical and often violent expressions of opposition to changes taking place in a society, the Southern insurrectionist movement is an example of a reactionary movement.
The Hip Hop movement among urban African Americans cannot be neatly fitted into any of these molds. Hip hop may be regarded as reactionary to the extent that it was a reaction to the destruction of the traditional African American social order by outside capitalist forces (Rose).
Hip Hop can be regarded as revolutionary movement due to the often radical message of black empowerment that some of the song lyrics convey.
Hip Hop can be regarded as a reform movement due to the fact the main exponents of the movement have neither the means and nor the serious inclinations for bringing about radical change.
Hip Hop may be viewed as a conservative movement due to the fact that it seeks to perpetuate some social inequalities such as patriarchy (Rose).
In short Hip Hop is merely a tool for the voiceless to voice their frustrations and concerns, its value as a cohesive movement to bring about any positive change in the African American community is doubtful.
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