The working relation between family sharing and social activism has become a point of critical concern. It has generated substantial interest having seen a lot more revolution against oppressive social establishments in many countries. Both Gladwell and Flammang in their books The Taste for civilization; Food, politics, and civil society, and Small change: Why the revolution will not be twitted respectively, add to this debate. They both appreciate the role the social gathering platforms has played in instigating and furthering socio-political regime change and social revolution in history. An example is how such platforms have continued ensuring that people embrace social justice and respect women in the American society. Further, these two books paint an interface that have the effect of empowering the common people to coordinate and work in synergy to voice their frustrations and concerns. It is safe, therefore, to believe that family and social sharing, common dining, provide a strong building block that initiate civil movements and civil society, suitable for social agitation and mobilization.
The roles of household sharing in initiating social activism can no longer be underestimated when it comes to initiating social change. It is an incredible avenue for encouragement and for awareness creation among vast majority of people, irrespective of the age groups. Traditionally, American women are tasked with “civilizing function of food i.e. meal planning, table courtesy, the art of conversation, family and group rituals associated tasks-and in this capacity modelling the virtues of thoughtfulness and generosity”. Many change movements have exploited this fact by using common family dining time as a point of self expression. During such times, people talk about their day, their discouragements and get solace. Such sharing gives a strong sense of thoughtfulness. Thus, family dining gives a strong building block to civil society movements. People get inspired by the encouragement they get right from the family table conversation. According to Flammang, the family members also learn how to make linkages and connections with other people to push a common cause. The social networks so created increase the rate and speed of information mobility ignoring the barriers along its path. Gladwell (2) gives a narration showing how this building of civil activism was used in the US to mobilize demonstrators against the Negros discrimination. This particular case in point, which is a clear example of civil society activism at work, involved students whom she refers to as the Greensboro 4 Negros. They were harassed at a site in and allegedly dismissed as, “we do not serve Negros here”. The number of the protestors grew by day. The first number was 31, with 27 men and 4 women. It would increase gradually to some seventy thousand students eventually taking part in the protests. The spread of information was such contagious that any student asked about this rapid response could explain that “it was like a fever, everyone wanted to go”.
Secondly, the family instils self esteem and comforting warmth that influences critical imagination and political inclination hence an impetus to socio-political agitations. According to Flammang, the family was linked to civil society because “it shaped the political views of citizens”. Civil society groupings provide a political alternative to current power regime or rather established norm against which a section of the society is dissenting. Gladwell (3) explains that the civil society and civility enjoys a lot of public confidence and wide embrace among all age groups and social classes. It is true despite the fact that the civil society has all along been viewed as a champion of rebellion and a center of cultural and ideological hegemony. The family warmth gives a reason to solder on, as the inspiration is genuine and real. Flammang and Gladwell concur that political networks needed for such an achievement requires populist approach. Therefore, the activists must have friendly mien that goes beyond the usual circle of friends. Such a friendly attitude is developed by a strong family grounding. With the technology in communication, friendship is both real and virtual. Virtual friendship and socio-political networks is established through the social media. According to Gladwell (3), we use “Facebook for efficiently managing your acquaintances, for keeping up with people you would not otherwise be able to stay in touch with”. That is why, one can have “a thousand “friends” on face book, as you never could on real life”. These extended networks helps shore up support for civil society activities. This is a clear show of the power of strong family and friendship establishment.
Moreover, the social acquaintances and family as a social fabric has contributed in a big way to the struggle against forms of social subjugation like women discrimination. Protestors who know one another by name, have special connection and ties and share something in common and with common passion are successful in pushing the agenda of the civil activity. Gladwell (2) quotes Stanford sociologist, Doug McAdam, comparing the freedom summer dropouts with the participants who stayed, and discovered that the key difference was not the ideological fervour. Rather, it was “it was on the degree of personal connection to the civil-rights movement”. To this end, the participants were required to provide personal contacts to be kept up breast on the on goings in the demos. It further exemplifies the role of social acquaintances on social activism. Flammang paints the same picture when she describes the relevance of group conversation in people’s homes helped develop some consciousness on the political happenings around them. The participants used, as shown above, a combination of the media, experiential knowledge, and popular wisdom to understand political issues’.
Finally, Flammang appreciates the role of the household and family table conversation in moulding one’s oratorical skills and communication ability. This exemplifies the power of dinner talks as analysed by linguist Shoshanna Blum-Kulka. She depicts the politeness and power in dinner talks. The family members get trained and indeed used the tactical choice of topic and introduce them to audience. They unpackage the information they intend to have the audience understand in a palatable manner without attracting an offence. They are made to be tactful in order to achieve concurrence from the audience. Besides they are trained to “respond appropriately, tell a story, or develop an argument”. These are the traits that civil society movements’ leadership and or membership required for successful agitation for social collection action. In addition, a good communicator moves masses and easily builds bonds with people to the extent of coded communication that anybody outside the cycle cannot understand. Gladwell points out that “one crucial fact about the four freshmen at the Greensboro lunch counter....was their relationship with one another”. This had given birth to communication methods only common amongst them. One of the McNeil brought the idea of the sit-ins and after having the discussion for over a month with the rest, he would one night get into their dormitory to address the rest. He did it in a way that works only with people who talk late night with one another, “Are you guys chicken or not”. This was to give courage to the colleagues for their intended action the following day. As clearly displayed, good communication laced with creativity gives motivation to one another. The coded information ensures security as the information is insulated in the jargon common only to the members of the group. Civil society activity is a high risk activism hence such protection is necessary.
Evidently, the family is a useful tool in causing collective action. The domestic unit enables one to appreciate diversity and strength of each one, being able to convince people to buy the line of thing and make friendships. It has been of great use especially in civil activism mobilization requiring strong social connectivity; hence, use of social media to shore up the numbers. The number of friends in the social platform is normally huge, not practical in real life. It is of help as shown in the case of Sameer Bhati. It can then be conclude that the family is an integral component that inspires civil activism because it is the unit that shapes ones communication ability through practices at dinner table to the family members. Secondly, the child gets encouragement that is only peculiar to the family. He gets to share the day’s frustrations and gets solace thereto. Thirdly, the family entity gives strong impetus to socio-political struggles against social subjugations. It is because the people get political consciousness from the family level from the narrations. Finally, the household is the avenue for awareness creation, self identity and realization. This paper and the basing literatures qualify the family and indeed the house hold as of monumental impact on force driving civil society and social activism to achieve a collective action. This is not left to the preserve of the family only but it includes even the social acquaintances.