What Are Some Examples of Redemptive Social Movements?

Some examples of redemptive social movements include the spread of Christianity and “Alcoholics Anonymous.” The term refers to any social movement that aims for radical personal transformation.

Alcoholics Anonymous qualifies because its stated aims are to radically transform all areas of the alcoholic’s life by encouraging him to stop drinking.

The spread of Christianity around the world, although conducted on a larger scale, also qualifies because it aims to totally alter the everyday lives and beliefs of individuals.

Redemptive social movements are contrasted with reformative and revolutionary social movements in their intended scope. Whereas redemptive movements seek individual change, revolutionary social movements seek total change of the existing social order. Reformative social movements are more moderate than revolutionary, seeking to change specific aspects of the social order, but still at the common level of society, rather than at the level of the individual. Examples of reformative social movements include campaigns for civil rights, such as women’s suffrage and same-sex marriage.

This model for classifying social movements was introduced in 1966 by the anthropologist David Aberle. The fourth type he categorized was alternative social movements. These are perhaps the most moderate of all, seeking to change only a small section of society, and then only in certain areas of their lives. An example would be advocacy of home-schooling over mainstream education.