A book review of Prisms of the People: Power & Organizing in Twenty-First-Century America by Hahrie Han, Elizabeth McKenna & Michelle Oyakawa.
Movements at the Station
Movements at the Station gathers the writing of Joel Dignam from the blog of the same name, his earlier blog Scit Necessitas, Medium, and other sites including the Change Agency, Australian Progress and Plan to Win.
Joel is an organiser and campaigner with broad experience in non-profits, unions, and electoral politics in Australia and the UK. He is currently the Director of ‘Better Renting’, a renters rights charity that he founded in 2018.
The collection includes book reviews and articles on campaign strategy, the craft of organising, organisational structure and leadership.
An introduction to the concept of framing, drawing on George Lakoff’s book Don’t Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate.
Don’t Buy It by Anat Shenker-Osorio is a guide to progressive messaging on the economy and economics – A book review by Joel Dignam.
Joel Dignam reviews Marshall Ganz’ approach to story as fundamental to organising. Through story we understand happenings, communicate our values, and make sense of our choices.
Joel Dignam reviews Ground Wars, Rasmus Kleis Nielsen’s hands-on ethnographic study of two competitive congressional campaigns in the 2008 US election. The book is a richly-detailed portrait of contemporary field campaigning.
Overwork has heavy costs. Working longer hours is dangerous and ineffective. But poor management, the subconscious, workplace culture, and work volume, can each be a barrier to better workplace practices. Thankfully though, these barriers can be overcome.
Joel Dignam reviews Jo Freeman’s “The Tyranny of Structurelessness” which explores some of the key structural problems facing groups. Recognising that power dynamics are present in all groups Freeman proposes formal structures, transparency and accountability.
Civic associations depend upon volunteers to get their work done. Joel Dignam distils insights from Ruth Wageman and Richard Hackman’s “Designing work for individuals and for groups” from Perspectives on Behavior in Organizations.
Joel Dignam reviews Marshall Ganz’ treatment of structure as a craft of organising. As Ganz notes “Developing leadership requires structuring the work of the organization so it affords as many people as possible the opportunity to learn to lead.”
Insights from The Organizational Roots of Political Activism: Field Experiments on Creating a Relational Context. In her paper, Han demonstrates that a relational context affects civic engagement, arguing that decisions like voting or other forms of activism aren’t based upon a simple cost-benefit analysis.
Joel Dignam reviews Paul and Mark Engler’s 2016 book This is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-First Century. TIAU is an analysis of social change, how it has occurred, and how contemporary campaigners may make it occur again.
This post reviews Marshall Ganz’ approach to craft of relationships in organising. Relationships foster the commitment that is needed for success and allow us to understand the interests, values and motivations of others.
“Personalized political communication” refers to when the medium for a message is a person, not media such as television, pamphlets, or billboards. The electoral arms race is seeing a renaissance of PPC and greater engagement of voters in campaigns and the political process.
Joel Dignam reviews Launching a Leadership Revolution by Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward. Joel distills the key lessons that are relevant to social change organisations.
Joel Dignam reviews Hahrie Han’s How Organizations Develop Activists. A key finding of Han’s research is that high-engagement chapters practise both organizing and mobilizing. The Voice for Indi campaign is considered as an Australian example of combining these two approaches.
The Greensboro student sit-ins had nonviolence at their heart and succeeded, not only in their immediate goal, but also in building a lasting organisation in the SNCC. It stands now as yet another example of the successful use of nonviolence to stand against oppression.
A review of Katrina Shield’s ‘In The Tiger’s Mouth: An Empowerment Guide for Social Action’. What most distinguishes this books is its emphasis on three elements not often considered in other campaigning texts: self-awareness, collaboration, and self-care.
Joel Dignam reviews Hahrie Han’s Moved to Action. Han tackles the question of what motivates political participation by people who face significant barriers. Han provides a toolkit for those seeking to empower and work with, or within, marginalised communities.
Joel Dignam reviews Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom’s ‘The Starfish and the Spider’. The book delves into ideas and language around decentralisation with useful examples from history, social movements and commerce. It also includes practical tips for putting decentralisation into practice.
Joel Dignam analyses two campaign moments: Stop Adani’s targeting of the ALP in the 2018 Queensland state election and the UK women’s suffrage campaign targeting of Liberals in 1905. The lesson? Target those most likely to give you what you want, and sometimes that means creating political risk for them.