A countermovement in sociology means a social movement opposed to another social movement. Whenever one social movement starts up, another group establishes themselves to undermine the previous group. Many social movements start out as an effect of political activism towards issues that a group disagrees with. “Researchers have used resource mobilization to study all manner of social and political movements such as environmentalism, father's rights groups, religious movements, and abortion rights”.[1] The reason for the start of countermovement groups is that people are competing for resources for political influence. Countermovement groups are a part of American society that try to compete for government legislation to support their own views.

The resource mobilization theory is an important issue in countermovements. “Research mobilization theory was a response to social psychological theories that focused on grievances and viewed movements as collective identities”.[1] This theory suggests that social movements organize their resources to make changes in society that fits in their views. As a social movement starts growing, there are those who oppose their views and in time start countermovements. For example, pro-life and pro-choice movements are countermovements to each other. Other issues that have countermovement group have to deal with controversial issues as in global warming, fathers’ rights, religion, and war. These movements and countermovements will never have a resolution so they try to pass their views into government legislation.[1] Countermovements main goal is to oppose the other movement to get their views into the mainstream. Many of these movements try to recruit people to gain popularity and in time gain political support.


Main article: Anti-environmentalism

An example of a countermovement has to deal with the environmental issues. Even with scientific facts and statistics that global warming exists, there are still groups that disagree that our environment is changing. As Jacques states, “the reality of doubt in environmental problems is not due to science, but has to deal with politics--global politics to be specific”.[2] Many who are “environmental skeptics” are saying that there are no environmental problems that will threaten humanity. Many of these skeptics are blaming environmentalist for stopping human progress to make standard of living rise. Environmentalists on the other hand are blaming “right-wing politics” for their skepticism and are becoming an anti-environmental countermovement. Jacques explains that, “The concentration of skeptical claims from the 1990s onwards indicates an intense burst of interest in the environmental skeptical program and is consistent with a conservative countermovement against global environmental concern”.[2] Skeptics on global warming feel as if they are not heard fairly as the environmentalists are, which they describe themselves “underdogs who are ‘speaking truth to power,’ while ‘debunking junk science’ that has been constructed ignorantly or maliciously by environmentalists”,[2] although many of the skeptics are those who depend on industries that are accuse of harming the environment. “Many of the skepticism of a changing environment are influence by politics and culture even if the facts are shown in plain sight” [2]). Until "climate skeptics" use science instead of politics for their views, "skeptics" can not expect to be taken seriously by society. As many of countermovement organizations are actually industrial front groups, like the Center for Consumer Freedom, the conflict is one of corporations against civil society rather than one of NGOs fighting each other.

Fathers' rights movement

Subsequently, the Fathers’ Rights Groups have become a grand issue in American society. Due to the high numbers of violent crimes committed between spouses, approximately 1.7 million violent crimes between the years of 1998-2002 according to the Department of Justice and mostly women, the battered women’s movement (BWM) has been campaigning for greater awareness of domestic violence.[3] Domestic violence is a serious problem in the United States that the BWM has found public support to “create tougher penalties against offenders and public vigilance against potential batterers, including fathers from dissolving families”.[3] As a result, there has been a countermovement of activists from the fathers’ rights movement (FRM) that argue that the battered women’s movements has created laws that targets men unfairly. “The number of members in the fathers’ rights movement has grown in numbers during the 1980s in Canada, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Australia, and the United States”.[3] The fathers’ rights movement has even discussed that the legal system is making them hard for them to be “good fathers.” “The FRM is using the argument that being a biological father and a social is different because a biological father is simply one who makes a genetic contribution, while a social father is one who engages in all of their children’s activities”.[3] The FRM is making sure that others realize that fathers’ being with their children is good for society.


The most controversial of countermovements are about whether abortion should be legal or not, which is fought by pro-life and pro-choice groups. The pro-life group is opposed to abortion under most grounds, notably those "on request". Some pro-life proponents believe abortion to be justifiable when serious health issues are present for the mother, while other proponents believe that abortion is unjustifiable under any circumstance.[4] The pro-choice group believes that a women has a right to abortion under all circumstances, often citing human rights do no ecompass fetuses before fetal viability.[5] Both of these groups tend to be adamant towards their views and neither sides' arguments seem to convince towards otherwise. “Although the issue of abortion is very controversial, most surveys indicate liberalization of public attitudes towards pregnancy termination between 1965 and the years immediately following Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion. Recent polls demonstrate that between 80% and 90% of Americans approve of abortion in the case of poor health, defective fetus, or rape, and between 40% and 50% indicate approval for other reasons. Only 10% would like to prohibit abortion under all circumstances”.[6] There is also information that people who are usually pro-choice or pro-life come from very different backgrounds and have different values. “Sociodemographic analyses indicate that individuals who disapprove of abortion are usually committed to organized religion, such as Roman Catholicism or fundamentalist Protestants, are usually very traditional/conservative with regard to women’s role in life, and are less educated than those who are pro-choice”.[6] Both groups will create logical fallacies because both of these countermovements will not agree to each other's issues. Both of these countermovements try to use emotional appeal by “abortion advocates tie their cause to the importance of ‘choice’, while pro-life activist point out the significance of protecting all forms of life”.[3]


In summary, countermovements have been a part of every movement. Many of the countermovements have tried to stop the opposing movements to get rid of their movement and control the politics of the issue. All countermovements are competing for resources whether it is political influence, money, or enforcing their doctrine on others. No matter the movement that comes up now or in the future, there is another group who will disapprove and make a countermovement. [1][2][6][7]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 Peckham, Michael. "New Dimensions of Social Movement/Countermovement Interaction: The Case of Scientology and its Internet Critics." Canadian Journal of Sociology 23.4 (1998): 317. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 8 Mar. 2010.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Jacques, Peter. "The Rearguard of Modernity: Environmental Skepticism as a Struggle of Citizenship." Global Environmental Politics 6.1 (2006): 76-101. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 4 Mar. 2010.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Crowley, Jocelyn Elise. "Fathers' Rights Groups, Domestic Violence and Political Countermobilization." Social Forces 88.2 (2009): 723-755. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 4 Mar. 2010.
  4. "Should Abortion Be Legal?". 2014-04-30. Retrieved 2014-05-02. Variations exist in arguments on both sides of the debate. Some pro-choice proponents believe abortion should only be used as a last resort, while others advocate unrestricted access to abortion services under any circumstance. Pro-life positions range from opposing abortion under any circumstance to accepting it for situations of rape, incest, or when a woman's life is at risk.
  5. Lowen, Linda. "10 Abortion Arguments: 10 Arguments For Abortion, 10 Arguments Against Abortion". Retrieved 2014-05-02. Nearly all abortions take place in the first trimester, when a fetus cannot exist independent of the mother. As it is attached by the placenta and umbilical cord, its health is dependent on her health, and cannot be regarded as a separate entity as it cannot exist outside her womb.
  6. 1 2 3 Shain, R.N. “A cross-cultural history of abortion.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 1986. Web. 10 Mar. 2010.
  7. Crowley, Jocelyn Elise. "Fathers' Rights Groups, Domestic Violence and Political Countermobilization." Social Forces 88.2 (2009): 723-755. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 4 Mar. 2010
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