The Civil Rights Movement in its modern form was characteristic for the development of the American society during the period of the 1950s-1980s. The movement was started as the reaction of the African Americans to the social segregation and discrimination.
The protests against segregation and discrimination were actively supported by the public, and President Kennedy initiated the discussion of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to stop racial discrimination in the American society.
Although the positive role of the Civil Rights Movement for changing the role of the African Americans in the American society is visible, this topic is also essential to be discussed because the movement for the African Americans’ rights provoked the associated movements against the social and gender inequality.
Thus, many effects of the Civil Rights Movement are observed in the modern American society which develops resolving the challenging questions of racism and inequality. That is why, this research aims to answer an important question: What modern effects of the Civil Rights Movement related to the issues of racism, discrimination, and inequality can be noticed in the present-day American society?
To explain the effects of the Civil Rights Movement from the sociological perspectives, it is necessary to refer to the functionalist, conflict, and interactionist theories.
Many modern researchers focus on the functionalist perspective and agree that the Civil Rights Movement influenced the society positively, and these effects can be observed today because the society is transformed, the problems of racism and inequality are discussed openly; referring to the conflict perspective, it is possible to note that discrimination is illegal, and the principle of the social justice and gender equality are followed.
Following the functionalist perspective, it is essential to state that the society develops as the whole composed of connected parts which should interact according to the idea of social balance.
From this perspective, the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s-1960s caused the development of many other social movements oriented to protecting women, sexual minorities, and workers’ rights, and these movements contributed to maintaining the necessary social equilibrium.
According to Isaac and Christiansen, ascendant social movements and modern protests can contribute to advancing the results of the Civil Rights Movement of the 20th century because the principles of the social justice are re-thought and followed according to the tendencies of the new transformed society (Isaac & Christiansen, 2002, p. 724-725).
Referring to the principle of social interconnectedness, the authors conducted the quantitative research on the connection between the Civil Rights Movement and changes in the labor militancy, and they concluded that the Civil Rights Movement’s methods can also be successfully followed today (Isaac & Christiansen, 2002).
As a result, the Civil Rights Movement can be discussed as the functional element because it influenced the radical transformation of the American society leading to the social stability and to actual changes in the social positions of the African Americans.
It is important to note that today the issues of racial discrimination are observed rarely because the social vision of the problem changed as a result of the Civil Rights Movement, and these consequences are the manifest functions, according to the functionalist theory. The concept of racial discrimination is contrasting to the ideas of social openness, tolerance, and flexibility.
These ideas play an essential role in the modern American society, and they serve to support the notions of equality and justice. Thus, the manifest functions are in the improvement of the social status of the African Americans, their education and career opportunities and in the improvement of the women’s status, their employment opportunities, and changes in roles division.
The changed opinions of the modern Americans on the issues of gender, race, and ethnicity can be discussed as latent functions.
These ideas are reflected in the work of Michael Ezra, the professor of American multicultural studies, who state that the Civil Rights Movement is the radical shift in the development of the American society, and the functional consequences of this reform for the social visions can be observed during a long period of time (Ezra, 2009, p. 118-119).
In spite of the fact that Ezra pays much attention to the role of the Civil Rights Movement for the development of the idea of equality in relation to the African Americans, it is possible to agree with the author regarding the discussion of the movement’s positive effects on the current situation in the contemporary American society.
One of the main positive effects of the Civil Rights Movement related to the progress of the modern American society is the concentration of the public’s attention on the issues of gender inequality. According to the conflict perspective, the competition of the different groups is the fundament for the social development.
In his work, Caulfield states that the Civil Rights Movement contributed to drawing the public’s attention to the problem of the African Americans in general and African American women in particular (Caulfield, 2011, p. 25). Thus, the movement contributed to empowering women and to developing the idea of gender equality.
From this point, women organized the movement for their rights to oppose the principles of the patriarchal society because of their conflicting interests and associated gender inequality.
That is why, following the conflict perspective and Caulfield’s conclusions, it is possible to state that the positive effect of the women’s empowerment observed in the American society today is the consequence of the significant social conflict known as the Civil Rights Movement.
The American society in its new transformed variant demonstrates the example of how the Civil Rights Movement can lead to the prolonged positive effects, but these effects are the results of many protests, demonstrations, and manifestations which are symbols of the social conflict.
The conflict perspective can be applied to discussing the work by Olzak and Ryo. According to the authors, the effectiveness of the Civil Rights Movement depends on the goal diversity and on the variety of the used techniques and methods and on the range of expected outcomes (Olzak & Ryo, 2007, p. 1580).
Goal and tactical diversity led to the significant positive outcomes of the movement, and these outcomes can be observed even today, but this diversity supports the idea that the interests of diverse groups were met during the Civil Rights Movement.
In this case, the social power belongs to the white Americans and males, when women, African Americans, and sexual minorities are the representatives of the lower classes which oppose to the current state.
However, the conflict resulted in the positive effects for such categories of the population as African Americans, women, and sexual minorities because their role in the American society was changed. Interactionism is focused on the role of people’s interactions for the social development.
Referring to the micro-sociological level, it is possible to note that the effects of the Civil Rights Movement are in the provision of the opportunity to live in the transformed society where the principles of the social justice and equality work while determining the people’s interactions in groups and communities because racial or gender discrimination and segregation can influence people individually.
Although Andrews discusses the issue of the social movement with references to the period of the 1960s-1970s, in his work, the author also supports the idea of significance of the Civil Rights Movement for the further progress of the society in relation to changing the principles of the people’s interactions (Andrews, 2001, p. 72).
In this case, it is also essential to state that the actual results of the Civil Rights Movement can be observed more clearly today because it is possible to conclude now whether African Americans and white Americans interact according to the ideals of equality and justice, and whether women and men have equal rights.
Although there is the range of quantitative and qualitative studies on the effects of the Civil Rights Movement on the American society, the authors of these studies choose to concentrate on the short-term or immediate effects of the movement on changes in the social position of the African Americans or women.
Moreover, referring to the existing literature on the topic, it is possible to note that it is rather difficult to answer this question in detail or with the focus on the numerical evidence, while following the functionalist, conflict, and interactionist perspectives.
The authors are inclined to refer to the statistics and studies’ factual findings, but the answer to the research question is still based on the results provided in the qualitative researches. From this point, it is possible to answer whether the effects of the Civil Rights Movement on the modern American society are positive or negative.
The researches reviewed in this paper provide the general answer to this question. The authors of the reviewed works are inclined to argue that the Civil Rights Movement influenced the American society positively, and these positive effects can be observed even today while referring to the analysis of the modern position of the women, African Americans, and sexual minorities in the American society.
Racial discrimination and issues of inequality are discussed in the modern society openly, and many efforts are made to resolve these issues which were hushed up before the Civil Rights Movement’s development.
Thus, following the functionalist perspective, it is possible to state that the Civil Rights Movement’s effects on the modern American society are functional or mainly positive because the cases of racism are observed in the American community more rarely, the issue of segregation is not discussed today, and the public is active to double the efforts in relation to resolving the issues of racial and gender discrimination.
Furthermore, today, the public is active to promote the ideals of the social justice and equality, and women and African Americans have the opportunity to take the same positions as the white people or males. These changes can be explained with references to the conflict theory.
From these perspectives, the implications of the research are in stating the direct connection between the positive results of the Civil Rights Movement and current situation in the modern American society.
Nevertheless, the direction for the future research should be associated with finding the numerical data and evidence to support the idea that the observed positive transformation of the American society into more tolerant and democratic one is the result of the Civil Rights Movement.
Andrews, K. (2001). Social movements and policy implementation. American Sociological Review, 66(1), 71-95.
Caulfield, B. (2011). Civil rights revisited: The growing African American pro-life movement. The Human Life Review, 37(2), 25-29.
Ezra, M. (2009). Civil Rights Movement: People and perspectives. USA: ABC-CLIO.
Isaac, L., & Christiansen, L. (2002). How the Civil Rights Movement revitalized labor militancy. American Sociological Review, 67(6), 722-746.
Olzak, S., & Ryo, E. (2007). Organizational diversity, vitality and outcomes in the Civil Rights Movement. Social Forces, 85(4), 1561-1591.