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Lesson 1: Social and Political Change

Lesson Objectives

At the end of the lesson, the student is expected to be able to:

  • Define and understand concepts related to social and political change;
  • Provide examples of social and political change in the Philippine context;
  • Concepts and definitions that help make sense of social and political change;
  • Role of social movements in influencing social and political change;
  • Understand the relationship between social and political change; and
  • Understand and situate oneself and one’s role in advancing social and political change within the current context.

Key Concepts

  • Social change- refers to transformations that alter the roles and status of people as well as the structure and organization of society and its institutions.
  • Political change- occurs when there is an alteration in the way authority is exercised in a particular state.
  • Digital divide – gap between those that can access digital technology, and those that are hindered by one or more barriers, from being exposed to digital technology.
  • Revolution- a rapid and basic transformation of a society’s state and class structures that is accompanied and in part carried through by class-based revolts from below. 
  • Coup d’état– a forcible removal of the ruling government from power that is instigated by a faction within the established regime, usually by the military.
  • Modernization- a multifaceted process involving changes in all areas of human thought and activity. 
  • Globalization- the increasing interconnectivity between individuals, groups, and other actors in the international system. 
  • Populism- a leadership style generated by massive popular support for a leader who espouses an anti-elite and anti-liberal political stance.
  • Social movement- a sustained, organized, collective effort that seeks to bring about change.
  • Free riding– occurs when an individual reaps the benefits of social change without directly participating in the collective action that brought about such change.
  • New social movements – created to push for more democratic, free, inclusive, secular, sustainable, and just societies.

Self-evaluation Forms (Part 1)

 Answer the following questions.

1.What do you already know about social and political change?


2. What do you want to know more about social and political change?


Causes of Political and Social Change

Social change has been and remains a constant in human societies. It is fueled by forces such as globalization, demographic shifts, climate change, and advances in technology. While social change can be a gradual evolution to modern progress, it can also be caused by rapid events such as revolution and civil war.

The distribution of power across levels may change, but the relations between members of varying social groups within society will take time to change. Civil war and revolutions cause political change, but this does not automatically translate to social change. Hence, social change happens when there is an adjustment or evolution of people’s roles and status, and on a bigger scale, reshaping of social structures, social organizations, and social institutions. One instance of this can be read about on Spanish colonization in the Philippines, wherein a decree prohibited slavery in 1574 (Seijas, 2014). Despite being pushed back and implemented only after a century, the decree restructured social order, since slavery was an indicator of power in societies before the Spanish arrived.

For a further example, digital technology has greatly affected social institutions, thereby specializing tasks, redefining dynamics among people, and improving how information is spread and categorized. On the other hand, digital technology has also allowed the shifting of practices in political campaigns. Due to the ease of connections and communication, more processes are streamlined and the facilitation of information is made easier. According to a report from the World Bank (2020), maximizing digital technology will greatly contribute in alleviating the impact of COVID-19 in the Philippines. These benefits include assisting programs and services, especially in online education, the business sector, healthcare, and in government work. More people can maintain their livelihood by moving their businesses online, mothers who are caring for their children and working at the same time can work flexible jobs, and more platforms are available to people with disabilities (PWD). Digital technology may be further used to upgrade services to the public, and to make them more inclusive. Modernization encompasses this shift in activity and norms among people that become familiarized and adept in digital technology. While innovations are greatly encouraged, careful consideration is needed due to the digital divide that hinders digital technology to be accessed by everyone.

Social change may also manifest in terms of acceptance of a practice, such as institutions becoming more gender-sensitive and responsive. Certain innovations, beliefs, and practices may be streamlined and diffused across geographical boundaries through globalization.

In earlier times, women were unable to vote, and their roles were mostly confined to household management and care work. While the latter is still something that needs to be challenged, especially in a predominantly conservative country such as the Philippines, there have been developments such as women taking part in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Aside from this, it can be said that the Philippines is still undergoing transformation to empower women and accept new manifestations of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expression (SOGIE), since there are many challenges to helping the public become more aware about this issue (CNN, 2020).

On the other hand, political change occurs within a state when there is a difference in power dynamics and how authority is exercised. From the previous example, digital technology may also contribute to political change, however those in power can still find a way to manipulate digital technology and use it to their advantage, maybe through disinformation online and using social media to proliferate fake news.

Political change entails a shift or total reform in the relationship between the government and its subjects. Hence, a manifestation of political change may also be brought about by the influence and popularity of a government leader on the preferences and opinion of the public. In this instance, populism, referring to this type of leadership, can cause political change in the favor of the populist head of state and their administration.

Political change happens more frequently, and it can be driven by the need or the manifestation of social change. Even so, attaining political change does not exactly ensure that social change will come to pass.

Other phenomena that could bring about political change are the following:

Coup d’état,< which is characterized by military backing and abrupt and enforced change in power; and - Revolution, which also entails transformation within societal institutions, and power dynamics.

In Philippine History, one of the most prominent points of political change may be marked by the Spanish colonization, which heavily shifted the political structures in the Philippines. A colonial government was installed, the Spanish officials and the Catholic Church were in control, and the oppression had caused the people to revolt, ultimately leading to the Philippine Revolution of 1896-1898. Even though the Spanish have been ousted, and the American and Japanese occupation followed, the Philippines has retained several institutions imparted during the three-century long influence and rule of the Spanish in the country. From the fragmented political units in the pre-colonial Philippines, the archipelago united into one nation and over time, the administration of its regions was centralized to a capital (Herrera, 2015: Borlaza, et al., 2022).

Social Movements

Based on sociology (Little & McGivern, 2014), there are three main perspectives in examining social movements:

1. Functionalist Perspective
This lens is concerned with how societal elements fit together, and how each role is significant to the operation of their sum. Hence, through this perspective, a functionalist would study the cause of social movements, why they persist, and what they aim to change in society. It is also observed by functionalists that social movements may shift their primary purpose if their claims are satisfied, or else they shall cease to exist.

When using the functionalist lens in understanding feminist movements, one may observe that their objectives shift or differ based on the evolution of human behavior, regional experiences, technological innovations, and other developments (Rampton, 2015). One of the primary aims of liberal feminism was to provide women with the right to political participation and access to education in the United States (Baehr, 2007), meaning this aimed to address the rights of women to decide for themselves. Later on, other waves of the feminist movement emerged to confront issues such as body politics and sexual rights (radical feminism), and exploitation of post-colonial countries, racism, and the dangers of globalization (third world feminism) (Rampton, 2015).

2. Critical Perspective
Sociologists examining social movements through this lens focus on inequality, its roots, and how it is ingrained in the system. Discussions with this perspective highlight social movements that are forged due to systemic inequality, and that throughout time, social change is necessary and inevitable. Hence, social conflict is built due to interactions and relations of groups of people, and this fuels initiatives towards social change.

The formation of unions organized employees so that they understand their rights and are able to negotiate with their employers if they are not treated humanely. Unions mobilize against unsafe work spaces and conditions, absence or lack of consultation, compensation and benefits, low wages, and other unfair aspects of management that endanger and disregard workers. “Social movement unionism” intends to attain transformation of how society regards the value of laborers/workers, and to challenge the oppression that the working class experience (de Cadiz, 2018). From a critical perspective, one analyzes who are the people victimized in what type of system, what are the existing conflicts that complicate resulting movements, and what are the qualities inherent in the system that enable, justify, and exacerbate these injustices (Little & McGivern, 2014).

Feminist movements may also be studied using the critical perspective, especially since patriarchy is deeply rooted in societies, and a deeper examination of how to confront it given the current context, and what are its historical and political roots (Arinder, J, n.d.).

3. Symbolic Interaction Perspective
Interactionists are concerned with communication and actions of people with each other. From these observed interactions, the lens focuses on the meanings assigned to movements and how this engages people, and how the attached symbols and their respective meanings shape one’s experience of social change.

This type of perspective may be applied when studying religious movements. Symbolic interactionists focus on the manifestations of people’s faith and beliefs in terms of their practices and places of worship (Barkan, 2011). On a closer look, religious movements may be studied based on the symbols of their faith, how and why these are significant to them and their lives, and individually, how their religion impacts on them in terms of physical and psychological state (Barkan, 2011).

Social movements are a kind of collective behavior, pertaining to “non-institutionalized” activities that people actively take part in (Little & McGivern 2014). Other types include the crowd, the mass, and the public. A crowd is composed of several people that happen to be at the same place at the same time; a mass is a distribution of individuals that have the same interests who do not have the means to perform collective action; and a public are different types of people who have the same opinions or beliefs about a certain issue. Little and McGivern (2014) differentiated that members of a mass hold similar interests, while a public have uniformity in their ideas.

Subsequently, organized groups that worked together with a common objective are known as social movements. According to Little and McGivern (2014), social movements are aimed towards:

– Motivating change in the current social setting;
– Contradicting social change; and
– Giving opportunities for marginalized groups to be represented politically.

Social movements contribute to social change in different levels: local, regional, national, and global. The types of social movements are:

– Reform movements, which aim to induce adjustments to an existing social structure;
– Revolutionary movements, which intend to fully change the whole social structure;
– Redemptive movements, which inspire and motivate spiritual transformation among people;
– Alternative movements, which encourage detailed shifts in one’s beliefs and practices towards improvement; and
– Resistance movements, which contradict an existing social structure and aim to revert to the previous or older way of life.

The phases included in social movements are summarized in four processes (Little & McGivern, 2014). People become concerned with a certain issue and grow in awareness, leading to a representative to appear in the preliminary phase. Afterwards, this arrives to the coalescence phase, wherein people unite and become organized in order to spread awareness to other people. By the time the institutionalization phase is reached, an organization is put in place, and operations are carried out by people who are paid . When the movement has gained the attention it sought and has its claims and needs addressed, or the issues they fought for are no longer relevant, then the movement dissipates into the decline phase.

Having mentioned collective behavior, which is a manifestation of the collective action social movement theory, other theories include resource mobilization, framing theory, and new social movement theory. From resource mobilization theory, mechanisms and strategies to earn support to forward their aims to the state are emphasized. Framing theory highlights how social movements shape or define their arguments and issues in a way that strikes familiarity, understanding, and empathy through common beliefs and practices. Finally, new social movement theory underlines what makes their movement unique and different from other social movements. Some familiar examples are the “green movements”, which encourage people to align with caring for the environment, and the “peace movements”, which influence others to adopt a more calm outlook and behavior.

Societal Organizations and the 1986 People Power Uprising

In the Philippines, the most prominent example of political change would be how the authoritarian regime of former President Ferdinand Marcos ended, and how former President Corazon Aquino replaced him as leader of a democratic state. The 1986 People Power Uprising was a product of several sectors coming together to demand accountability from the government because of the widespread socioeconomic deprivation.

When the government under Former President Cory Aquino’s term had restored democracy, there are still issues that remain unaddressed. In the context of post-EDSA, there are factors that determine state-societal relations and social and political change:

– The presence of a formal system that prioritize policy issues;
– The capability of societal organizations to efficiently fulfill their objectives, and the involvement of state actors; and
– The urgency of the concerns in policy.

The political atmosphere during that time had driven people to work together through societal organizations, and engage in various ways to attain policy changes, most especially in “agrarian reform, labor relations, and urban land reform” (Magadia, 2003 as cited in Rico, 2004). The crucial societal organizations in the aforementioned point of issues are the Congress for People’s Agrarian Reform (CPAR), Urban Land Reform Task Force (ULR-TF), and the Labor Advisory and Coordinating Council (LACC), respectively. According to Magadia (2003), the latter two had less participation compared to CPAR.

On a closer look, social movements leading up to that time encompassed, to a degree, the state, the social organizations, and the policy at the forefront of the issue (Magadia, 2003 as cited in Rico, 2004). However, no matter how strong social movements are, the impact of their work in policy and in state-society relations are not always written in stone. To some point, the degree of involvement and engagement of societal organizations in policy making, differs from time to time. The political backdrop serves as the primary fuel to the extent of participation of crucial or leading societal organizations. Therefore, political change (policies and reform) is induced by social change (impact of the objectives of social organizations that are met), and social change (brought about by social movements) is dependent on the state of politics and how much pull or influence these social organizations have to negotiate or lobby political change.

Self-evaluation Form (Part 2)

Answer the following questions.

1.What have you learned from the lesson?

2. How will you apply the knowledge you have learned in this lesson in improving Philippine society?

List of Activities

Synchronous Activities (In-class) 

Activity 1: Class Discussion about COVID-19
Instructions. Let the students identify and discuss recent international global events that have changed society, and let them classify these changes as a by-product of globalization, technology or demographic shifts.

Step 1. Ask students about what social changes COVID-19 will bring to Philippine society and the world in general.
Step 2. Have the students identify technologies that have made an impact on our way of life. Let them describe how these inventions and innovations have changed society.
Step 3. Explain how social and cultural changes result in tensions and struggles within society. Let the students identify and describe struggles or problems that have been brought about by social and cultural change. Have them evaluate them and suggest means to address these problems.

Activity 2: Class Discussion on Martial Law

Instructions. Have the students discuss the various aspects of the Martial Law period in the Philippines.

Step 1. Let the students compare the perspectives on political change from the founding thinkers such as Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Max Weber. For these three influential scholars, political change is a product of different factors, as summarized in these points:

– Karl Marx: Political change is a result of changes in the economy, particularly the way goods and services are produced in society.
– Emile Durkheim: Political change is the result of the modernization of the division of labor and the social roles played by individuals in society.
– Max Weber: Political change is the result of the changes in culture and ideas in society.

Step 2. Discuss the developments that led to the 1986 People Power Uprising, and the changes that it gradually brought about. Use the graphic organizer as a guide. Let the students expand the graph by identifying specific changes and events related to the impact of the uprising to Philippine politics and society.

Sibika.ph-UCSP-Module-12-Social Change and Social Movements-Activity 1.22

Activity 3: Pros and Cons of Mass Protests
Instructions. Ask the students about the advantages and disadvantages of engaging in a mass protest action. Have them suggest other means to spread awareness about a particular issue or problem.

Step 1. Let the students compare the perspectives on social movements. Have them complete the table with the relevant information.

– Collective Behavior Approach- stresses the deviant behavior of individuals that join them.
– Resource Mobilization Approach- focuses on the material resources that cause the success of social movements.
– Political Process Approach- emphasizes the opportunities provided by the state as well as the political environment of social movements.

Step 2. Have the students identify social movements in the Philippines that conform to one or more of these perspectives.
Step 3. Discuss the emergence of gender and environmental issues as important issues that drive new social movements. Let the students identify organizations that advocate these issues and discuss their activities.

Asynchronous Activities

Activity 1: COVID-19 Timeline
Instructions. Let the students view a documentary on the “COVID-19 pandemic” produced by PBS, and ask the students to make a timeline outlining the events leading to COVID-19 pandemic. Let them identify significant events.

Discuss the following questions:

– What events led to the COVID-19 pandemic?
– How are the various factors of social change (technology, globalization, demography) evident in the pandemic?
– How did the media, internet, and other communication technology become important tools in addressing the pandemic?
– Describe how governments reacted to the pandemic in the beginning. Which countries did better than others? How can you assess the performance of the Philippine government in addressing COVID-19?
– Let the students write a short essay on the future impact of COVID-19 in Philippine society. How will this change social relations in the country?

Activity 2: Martial Law Debate
Instructions. Let the students watch a series of videos discussing the imposition of martial law in the Philippines by President Marcos in 1972. Access the videos at the following links:

“Batas Militar” (Part 1)
“Batas Militar” (Part 2)
“Batas Militar” (Part 3)

Step 1. Have the students discuss the events that brought about the declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines. Ask the students to relate what they know or have heard about the Martial Law Period.
Step 2. Ask the class to have a debate on the following question: Overall, did martial law benefit the country’s political development as a democracy?
Step 3. Ask the students to reflect on the debate and ask them about their experience especially when they heard contradictory opinions about martial law from their classmates.
Step 4. In a separate session, have a class discussion on whether the Philippines is currently experiencing a similar situation compared to martial law under the Marcos dictatorship.

Activity 3: Organizing a Protest Action
Instructions. Let the students form groups of four or five members and ask them to plan a protest action on an issue they are passionate about.

Step 1. In organizing the protest action, ask them to answer the following questions:

– What is the protest issue?
– Who are the targets of your protest action?
– Where will you hold the protest action?
– What is the overall goal of your protest issue?
– Who will you invite to join your protest action?
– Will you use digital technology? How?

Step 2. Ask the groups to make a presentation about the protest action strategy and simulate the actual protest action. Ask them whether they think that their protest action will be covered by the media and whether it will be repressed by security forces.

Rubrics for Discussions and Debates

Arinder, J.A. (n.d.). Feminist Theory. In Egbert, J. & Roe, M. (Eds.), Theoretical Models for Teaching and Research. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. https://opentext.wsu.edu/theoreticalmodelsforteachingandresearch/chapter/feminist-theory/

Baehr, Amy R. (2021). Liberal Feminism. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2021 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.). https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2021/entries/feminism-liberal/

Barkan, S. E. (2011). Chapter 15: Religion. In Sociology: Understanding and changing the social world. Boston, MA: Flat World Knowledge, Incorporated. https://pressbooks.howardcc.edu/soci101/

Borlaza, G. C., Hernandez, C.G. and Cullinane, M. (2022, March 4). Philippines. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/place/Philippines

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica (2020, May 28). Philippine Revolution. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/event/Philippine-Revolution

de Cadiz, G. B. (2009). A critical analysis of social movements in the Philippines. SSRN Electronic Journal. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2483104

CNN Philippines (2020). 11 articles to understand why the SOGIE bill is important. https://www.cnnphilippines.com/life/culture/2020/11/5/understanding-SOGIE-bill-importance.html

Herrera, D. (2015). The Philippines: An overview of the colonial era. Association for Asian Studies. https://www.asianstudies.org/publications/eaa/archives/the-philippines-an-overview-of-the-colonial-era/

Heslop, D. Alan (2020, October 30). Political System. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/political-system

Little, W. & McGivern, R. (2014). Chapter 21. Social Movements and Social Change. In Introduction to Sociology – 1st Canadian Edition (1st ed.). Creative Commons Attribution 4.0. https://opentextbc.ca/introductiontosociology/chapter/chapter21-social-movements-and-social-change/

Magadia, J. (1999). CONTEMPORARY CIVIL SOCIETY IN THE PHILIPPINES. Southeast Asian Affairs, 253–268. http://www.jstor.org/stable/27912230

Rampton, M. (2015). Four waves of feminism. Pacific University Oregon, 25. http://gdelaurier.pbworks.com/w/file/fetch/134554611/Four%20Waves%20of%20Feminism%20_%20Pacific%20University.pdf

Rico, R. L. (2004). Jose J. Magadia. State-Society Dynamics: Policy Making in a Restored Democracy. Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2003. 226 pages., Philippine Political Science Journal, 25(1), 162-164. doi: https://doi.org/10.1163/2165025X-02501011

Seijas, T. (2014). The Diversity and Reach of the Manila Slave Market. In Asian Slaves in Colonial Mexico: From Chinos to Indians (Cambridge Latin American Studies, pp. 32-72). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9781107477841.003

“Social Movements” (n.d.). Lumen Learning. https://courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-sociology/chapter/social-movements/

The World Bank (2020). Harnessing Digital Technologies Can Help Philippines Overcome Impact of Pandemic, Hasten Recovery. Retrieved from https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2020/10/05/harnessing-digital-technologies-can-help-philippines-overcome-impact-of-pandemic-hasten-recovery.

Learning Material

Center for Global Development. “Demographics and Climate Change”.

East Asia Forum. “Asia’s Demographic Transition over the Next 30 Years”.

World Economic Forum. “Shaping the Future of the New Economy and Society”.

World Health Organization. “COVID-19”.

TED Talks: The Attitudes that Sparked the Arab Spring. Video from TED.com.

The History Guide: French Revolution. Learning Portal from History Guide.

Exemplified (2019). How Technology Has Changed our Lives? [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hlexbccHjo

A History of Philippine Political Protest. Web article from the Official Gazette.

K12 Study Club (2020). UCSP 2.0 Social, Cultural, and Political Change. [Video] YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bb_1cz1ms0

Pearson (2020). How Does Social Change Happen? [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHPbjGvH4bg

Rappler (2014). #WHIPIT: Where does the Filipino woman stand today. [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcw9tGO80Xo&t=2s

Tenhunen, S. and Karvelyte, V. (2015, January 22) “The role played by social media in political participation and electoral campaigns” (with links to specific articles). European Parliamentary Research Service Blog.

The Role of Civil Society and Social Movements. Resource portal from the GSDRC website.