Degree Year

1963

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Sociology

Advisor(s)

J. Milton Yinger

Keywords

Status, Leadership, Achievement, Civil right ideology, Negro, Equality

Abstract

The demand for equal rights now among the American Negro population has sparked wide-spread discussion about the causes of the movement. Different authors and leaders, through a wide-ranging assortment of sometimes contradictory and sometimes interlocking reasons, have attempted to explain why the movement arose and why it has kept going. Approaches range from the mystical explanation of Martin Luther King, Jr. (in the final analysis God is causing the Negro to demand equal rights at the present time) to the coldly rational approaches of many social scientists who see the current Negro unrest as part of a typical case history of a social movement. Actually King is not completely mystical because he does openly and vociferously recognize many of the empirical social causes of the Negro revolt. Acceptance of the mystical approach clashes with the scientific methods and values of the writer and most social scientists and thus, by assumption, is rejected. Two generally accepted or generally debated characteristics of a social movement are; (1) the emergence of protest instead of accommodating leadership for the movement, and (2) the increase in wealth and general economic well-being of the oppressed group minus concomitant increases in political power and social standing or/and the realization by followers of the social movement that their rights and privileges are not being recognized and granted. In other words, the followers of the social movement perceives themselves as deprived, wish to rectify the situation, and turn to leaders who oppose the accepted values of the general society instead of those who support the accepted values. These are only two debated characteristics of the movement which especially interested the writer, and they are generally considered true of only the initial stages of a social movement (there can be little doubt that the demand for equal rights now has not run its course). The writer decided to restrict his investigation to only these two characteristics because of a lack of time and a desire to be fairly thorough in the investigation. .Most of the research was tangential instead of directly related to the above characteristics. The writer desired to see how Negroes perceive change in their status, what kind of program of action they advocate, and who they consider 1eaders. He also sought to discover the correlations between perception of change, achievement motivation and civil rights ideology. Preliminary work consisted of reading articles giving the present gamut of Negro attitudes on status, rights, strategies and goals, articles analyzing the cases of the Negro revolt, and articles portraying the history and life of the Negro in America. These readings were continued during and after the interview process to aid the writer in understanding and interpreting his results. To determine present Negro feelings related to the above named two characteristics, the writer decided to design an interview-questionnaire with four main sections: (1) Negro leadership, (2) Negro achievement motivation, (3) Negro civil rights ideology, and (4.) Negro perception of change in status.

Included in

Sociology Commons

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