Four different roles activists and social movements need to play in order to successfully create social change: the citizen, rebel, change agent & reformer.
Theories of Change
In order to make change you need to decide how you think that change will come about, and base on your actions on your best guess. For collective work to be effective it’s important the theory of change is shared. This topic includes activities and discussion starters for exploring different theories, as well as details on some particular approaches.
Social change can be messy and challenging work! It helps to have frameworks to make sense of the situations we find ourselves in and plan for the way ahead. This article outlines four models, by Martin Luther King, Jr, George Lakey, Bill Moyer and Tim Gee.
Nadine Flood from the CPSU presents at Progress 2015 on the dynamic tension at the heart of the union movement’s theory of change – as both grassroots movement and the large representative and regulated institutions.
At Progress 2017, GetUp!’s Shen Narayanasamy shared the strategy and critical lessons learnt during campaign work to protect the rights of people seeking asylum. To be effective the campaign needed to engage many different stakeholders across the movement and centre the lived experience of people most impacted.
Sam Mostyn, President of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), at Progress 2017 talking quotas, Sustainable Development Goals, and the importance of including corporates in our work towards social justice.
This article explores the ‘moving the rock’ concept put forward by Daniel Hunter in his book Strategy and Soul. The concept has been valuable for campaigners and organisations reassessing their theory of change and particularly how they engage politicians and supporters.
Learn about Daniel Hunter’s metaphor of moving the rock to bring about social change through activating people’s social values.
A process guide to be used in training workshops and planning sessions. The workshop introduces the idea of ‘policy windows’ and ‘political opportunity structure’ and enables participants to critically evaluate the political opportunity structure apparent in current campaigns.
The policy window is an opportunity for advocates of proposals to push their pet solutions, or to push attention to their special problems. When everything comes together a problem is recognised, a solution is developed and available in the policy community, a political change makes it the right time for policy change, and potential constraints are not severe.
A process guide to be used in training workshops and planning sessions about theories of change. This session facilitates political analysis, reflection and dialogue. Why start with a theory of change? This isn’t asking people to be academics, it’s just about being clear about our own and each other’s assumptions.
A process guide to be used in training workshops and planning sessions to identify the political assumptions that shape our opinions and analysis. Analysis and planning is improved by being aware of the lens through which we see the world. Our lens is influenced by our assumptions and values.
Social movements become more powerful as more people are equipped to analyse their political context, consider paths to change and mindfully plan tactics. This Campaign Strategy Guide equips activist educators to facilitate a range of participatory exercises with activists, organisers and citizens. It can also be used as a do-it-yourself guide for campaigners.
This is a training process guide to explore different approaches to solving community problems, investigate how different problems require different approaches to change to solve them, clarify the differences between community organising, community development, advocacy and service delivery.
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.
As a means of radical social change, nonviolence draws on a rich history of people’s struggles from around the world. Grassroots people’s movements have brought down dictators, stopped armies, undermined corporations and halted entire industries with nonviolent resistance.
Learn about the three major approaches to peace identified by Johan Gultung: peacekeeping, peacemaking, peacebuilding.
Anne O’Brien reviews Ideas for Action: Relevant Theory for Radical Change by Cynthia Kaufman. Kaufman connects theory with the day to day dilemmas that activists face in the practical work of challenging injustice.
Aidan Rickett’s The Activists’ Handbook is a powerful guide to grassroots activism. Naomi Blackburn reviews the early chapters of the book which are particularly relevant to Theories of Change.
Getting clear on our theory of change can be personally empowering as well as important for alignment within organisations and campaigns. These notes are from a workshop by Naomi Blackburn, drawing on the Resource Manual for a Living Revolution and Australian Student Environment Network curriculum.
In the second part of this article Mark and Paul Engler further explore Bill Moyer’s Movement Action Plan and its implications for social movements.