COLLECTIVE BEHAVIOR SOCIAL MOVEMENTS AND SOCIAL CHANGE
Along with many other well-known persons, Potency Cromwell and Jim Lowell arc expressing their concerns about global warming and encouraging others to engage in collective behavior to try to save the planet from serious harm. The term global warming refers to a process that occurs when carbon dioxide (produced by cars, factories, and power plants, among other sources) stays in the atmosphere and acts like a blanket that holds in the heat. Over time. global warming results in higher temperatures, rises in sea levels .and catastrophic weather such as powerful hurricanes (Revkin, 2006). However. global warming is not a major concern for most people. who. when asked on surveys to identify the most important problems facing the United States. put at the top of their list the war in the Middle East. the economy and jobs. immigration. terrorism. health care. and energy prices. Even when respondents mention environmental issues as a concern, global warming is placed iar down the list after the pollution oi rivers. lakes. reservoirs. and drinking
water; air pollution; and toxic waste. according to a recent Gallup survey (N~w York Times, 2006: WKI4). The message of the environmental movement is that we must act collectively and immediately to reduce global warming before havoc comes to the Earth: Social change is essential. Sociologists define social dlallge as the alteration, modification, or transformation of public policy, culture. or social institutions over time. Social change is usually brought about by collective behavior and social movements. In this chapter. we will examine collective behavior. social movements. and social change from a sociological perspective. We will use environmental activism as an example of how people may use social movements
as a form of mass mobilization and social. transformation (Buechler. :WOO). Before reading on. test your knowledge about collective behavior and environmental issues by taking the quiz in Box 20.1. .