World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Reform movement

Article Id: WHEBN0000200964
Reproduction Date:

Title: Reform movement  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: List of 2007 Macropædia articles, Jacob Riis, Social movement, Gustav Lilienthal, Hassan Evan Naseem
Collection: History of Social Movements, Reform Movements
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Reform movement

A reform movement is a kind of social movement that aims to make gradual change, or change in certain aspects of society, rather than rapid or fundamental changes. A reform movement is distinguished from more radical social movements such as revolutionary movements.

Reformists' ideas are often grounded in liberalism, although they may be rooted in socialist (specifically, social democratic) or religious concepts. Some rely on personal transformation; others rely on small collectives, such as Mahatma Gandhi's spinning wheel and the self-sustaining village economy, as a mode of social change. Reactionary movements, which can arise against any of these, attempt to put things back the way they were before any successes the new reform movement(s) enjoyed, or to prevent any such successes.


  • Great Britain and United Kingdom: late 18th century to early 20th 1
    • The Chartist movement 1.1
    • The Women's reform movement 1.2
    • Reform in Parliament 1.3
  • United States: 1840s - 1930s 2
  • Mexico: La Reforma, 1850s 3
  • Ottoman Empire: 1840s-1870s 4
  • Republic of Turkey: 1920s-1930s 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7

Great Britain and United Kingdom: late 18th century to early 20th

The Radical movement campaigned for electoral reform, a reform of the Poor Laws, free trade, educational reform, postal reform, prison reform, and public sanitation.[1] Originally this movement sought to replace the exclusive political power of the aristocracy with a more democratic system empowering urban areas and the Middle Class and working classes. Following the Enlightenment's ideas, the Reformers looked to the Scientific Revolution and industrial progress to solve the social problems which arose with the Industrial Revolution. Newton's natural philosophy combined a mathematics of axiomatic proof with the mechanics of physical observation, yielding a coherent system of verifiable predictions and replacing a previous reliance on revelation and inspired truth. Applied to public life, this approach yielded several successful campaigns for changes in social policy. Eventually, in 1859, this reform movement led to the formation of the Liberal Party. Soon, the landed gentry, prosperous business men, and high-ranking officials created the Conservative Party to counter the rising strength of liberalism in Parliament.

The greatest success of the Reformers was the Reform Act 1832, which provided the rising middle classes with more political power in urban areas, while lessening the representation of areas of England undisturbed by the Industrial Revolution.[2] Despite determined resistance from the House of Lords to the Bill, this Act gave more parliamentary power to the liberals, while reducing the political force of the working class, leaving them detached from the main body of middle class support on which they had relied. Having achieved the Reform Act of 1832, the Radical alliance was broken until the Liberal-Labour alliance of the Edwardian period.[3]

The Chartist movement

Chartist meeting, Kennington Common, 1848

The Chartist movement sought universal suffrage. An historian of the Chartist movement observed that "The Chartist movement was essentially an economic movement with a purely political programme."[4] A period of bad trade and high food prices set in, and the drastic restrictions on Poor Law relief were a source of acute distress. The London Working Men's Association, under the guidance of Francis Place, found itself in the midst of a great unrest. In the northern textile districts the Chartists, led by Feargus O'Connor, a follower of Daniel O'Connell, denounced the inadequate Poor Laws. This was basically a hunger revolt, springing from unemployment and despair. In Birmingham, the older Birmingham Political Union sprang to life under the leadership of Thomas Attwood. The Chartist movement demanded basic economic reforms, higher wages and better conditions of work, and a repeal of the obnoxious Poor Law Act.

The idea of universal male suffrage, an initial goal of the Chartist movement, was to include all males as voters regardless of their social standing. This later evolved into a campaign for universal suffrage. This movement sought to redraw the parliamentary districts within Great Britain and create a salary system for elected officials so workers could afford to represent their constituents without a burden on their families.

The Women's reform movement

Mary Wollstonecraft
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, 1792

Many consider Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) to be the source of the reformers' long-running campaign for feminist inclusion and the origin of the Women's Suffrage movement. Harriet Taylor was a significant influence on John Stuart Mill's work and ideas, reinforcing Mill's advocacy of women's rights. Her essay, "Enfranchisement of Women," appeared in the Westminster Review in 1851 in response to a speech by Lucy Stone given at the first National Women's Rights Convention in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1850, and it was reprinted in the United States. Mill cites Taylor's influence in his final revision of On Liberty, (1859) which was published shortly after her death, and she appears to be obliquely referenced in Mill's The Subjection of Women.[5]

A militant campaign to include women in the electorate originated in Victorian times.

  1. ^ Elie Halévy, The Growth of Philosophic Radicalism. Faber (1972) ISBN 0-571-04759-9
  2. ^ G. M. Trevelyan, Lord Grey of the Reform Bill: Being the Life of Charles, Second Earl Grey (London: Longmans, Green, 1913)
  3. ^ G. D. H. Cole, Short History of the British Working Class Movement, 1787-1947. London, George Allen & Unwin (1948), pp. 63-69. "The Reform Movement"
  4. ^ G.D.H. Cole, Short History of the British Working Class Movement, 1787-1947. London, George Allen & Unwin (1948), p. 94 "The Rise of Chartism"
  5. ^ The Feminism and Women's Studies site (e-text)The Subjection of Women,John Stuart Mill,


  • 1921 International Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Women and Children
  • The Venus Project
  • Acharya Gour Ganguly for account of micro-level reform movements in rural Eastern India
  • Revitalization movement - Socio-cultural transformation movements
  • Macquarie science reform movement
  • Reform movement in Judaism
  • Hindu reform movements

    Republic of Turkey: 1920s-1930s

    The Tanzimat meaning reorganization of the Ottoman Empire, was a period of reformation that began in 1839 and ended with the First Constitutional Era in 1876. The Tanzimat reform era was characterized by various attempts to modernize the Ottoman Empire, to secure its territorial integrity against nationalist movements and aggressive powers. The reforms encouraged Ottomanism among the diverse ethnic groups of the Empire, attempting to stem the tide of nationalist movements within the Ottoman Empire. The reforms attempted to integrate non-Muslims and non-Turks more thoroughly into Ottoman society by enhancing their civil liberties and granting them equality throughout the Empire.

    Ottoman Empire: 1840s-1870s

    • Abolition of the fueros which had granted civil immunity to members of the church and military
    • Liquidation of traditional ejido communal land holdings and distribution of freehold titles to the peasantry (the Ley Lerdo)
    • Expropriation and sale of concentrated church property holdings (beyond the clergy's religious needs)
    • Curtailment of exorbitant fees by the church for administering the sacraments
    • Abolition of separate military and religious courts (the Ley Juárez)
    • Freedom of religion and guarantees of many civil and political liberties
    • Secular public education
    • Civil registry for births, marriages and deaths
    • Elimination of all forms of cruel and unusual punishment, including the death penalty
    • Elimination of debtor's prisons and all forms of personal servitude

    The Mexican Liberal party, led by Benito Juárez and Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada, guided the emergence of Mexico, as a nation state, from colonialism. It envisioned a modern civil society and capitalist economy. All citizens were equal before the law, and Mexico's 1829 abolition of slavery was reaffirmed. The Liberal program, documented in the 1857 Constitution of Mexico, was based on:

    Benito Juárez

    Mexico: La Reforma, 1850s

    • Art — The Hudson River School defined a distinctive American style of art, depicting romantic landscapes via the Transcendentalist perspective on nature.
    • Literature — founding of the Transcendentalist movement, which stressed high thinking and a spiritual connection to all things (see pantheism).
    • ScienceJohn James Audubon founded the science of ornithology (the study of birds). He published the Birds of America (1827-1838).
    • Utopian Experiments.
      • New Harmony, Indiana (founder: Robert Owen) — practiced economic communism, although it proved to be socially flawed and thus unable to sustain itself.
      • Oneida Commune (founder: John Noyes), practiced eugenics, complex marriage, and communal living. The commune was supported through the manufacture of silverware, and the corporation still exists today, producing spoons and forks for households of the world. The commune sold its assets when Noyes was jailed on numerous charges.
      • Shakers — (founder: Mother Ann Lee) Stressed living and worship through dance, supported themselves through manufacture of furniture. The furniture is still popular today.
      • George Ripley), an agriculture-based commune that also ran schools.

    United States: 1840s - 1930s

    Gladstone approached politics differently. Among the reforms he helped Parliament pass was a system of public education in the Elementary Education Act 1870. In 1872, he saw the institution of a secret ballot to prevent voter coercion, trickery and bribery. By 1885 Gladstone had readjusted the parliamentary district lines by making each district equal in population, preventing one MP from having greater influence than another.

    Benjamin Disraeli and William Ewart Gladstone, as leaders of Great Britain's Conservative and Liberal parties, respectively, served as Prime Ministers during the later years of Great Britain's era of reform. Disraeli saw British control of the Suez Canal and named Queen Victoria the Empress of India.

    William Gladstone
    as Palmerston's Chancellor of the Exchequer

    Earl Grey, Lord Melbourne and Robert Peel were leaders of Parliament during the earlier years of the British reform movement. Grey and Melbourne were of the Whig party, and their governments saw parliamentary reform, the abolition of slave trading throughout the British Empire, and Poor Law reform. Peel was a Conservative, whose Ministry took an important step in the direction of tariff reform with the abolition of the Corn Laws.

    Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey
    Monument, Newcastle upon Tyne
    This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
    Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
    By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

    Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
    a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.