Please see below selected recent activism-related change,
- Voluntary work doesn’t just do good for the recipients, but can also give the volunteer a boost, research shows. A UK study found that 68% of people helping out schools with a range of activities, from mentoring to mock interviews, found that volunteering gave them greater motivation in their own work. Eight in 10 of the volunteers also felt they improved their own communication skills.
- More than 200 environmental activists were killed in 2019 for daring to defend nature against human depredation, according to Global Witness. The NGO’s “Defending Tomorrow” report for 2019 said it was the worst year ever for killings of land and environmental defenders: 212 died, most of them in Latin America and the Philippines. There were 33 deaths in the Amazon and 64 altogether in Colombia, reported Tortoise Media.
- Disabled and mobility-impaired people who cannot attend marches can find online activism tools a helpful way to promote issues and protest inequalities.
- Prohibiting group gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic meant no more street demonstrations, so people tried to take protests online. Quartz explored how social organising around the world was harmed by the crisis, while national governments found ways to increase surveillance and strengthen control.
- A study of recent world history found that civil resistance is twice as likely to succeed as violence. It was undertaken by a sceptic. She was surprised by what she found. Violent insurgency rarely gets much public support. It’s activism that wins people over and she argued that protests involving at least 3.5% of a population rarely fail.
- Further reading:
- Davos 2020 called for inclusive transformation across all human systems, starting with the economy. This echoes the demands of protestors worldwide, and is one factor behind a predicted a rise in workforce activism.
- Anarchy is having a comeback. This year’s mass protests show that many people don’t believe in the state’s legitimacy anymore. Old-style political parties and movements are in disarray; societies, more polarised than ever before; and the young have never faced a more uncertain future. As angry, leaderless individuals revolt against increasingly authoritarian states and bureaucracies from, anarchist politics may be an idea whose time has come.
- There have been many varied successful social movements over the years and the interesting thing about a new movement like Extinction Rebellion is that it is based on research that has analysed those movements. XR’s founders include scientists and academics who looked at the available data and formed a “theory of change” based on them. One of the main bodies of research came from Professor Erica Chenoweth, who found that successful campaigns need to mobilise up to 3.5% of the population to achieve their demands. Chenoweth studied 323 social movements and found that the most successful were: a) non-violent b) decentralised c) practised constant, disruptive civil disobedience – i.e breaking the law and d) they took this mainly to capital cities.
- Further reading:
- Online activism tools enables the mass scaling of petitions (e.g. Change.org) or the monitoring of politicians' behaviour (e.g. TheyWorkForYou.com). Such so-called "civic tech" can be a quick-and-easy way of getting people's voices heard and younger people are particularly vocal, especially when compared to older and digitally quieter generations. Disabled and mobility-impaired people who cannot attend marches also find online activism tools a helpful way to promote issues and protest inequalities.
- A significant appeal of the private sector for activist-minded change-makers is access to resources. Compared with cash-strapped charities, corporations have deep pockets to dip into (should they wish to). More than cash, however, activists are attracted to the public platform that brands provide.
- Further reading:
- Even while traditional union membership has declined in many countries: individual citizen power appears to be on the rise, as In 2018, when then 15- year-old Greta Thunberg resolved not to attend school each Friday until Sweden, her country of birth, aligned itself with the targets set out under the Paris Climate Agreement. Within months, the Nobel Peace Prize nominee had inspired more than a million pupils of all ages in more than 125 countries to join the School Strikes 4 Climate Action movement, under which studies are periodically boycotted in favour of organised marches to pressure governments into taking emergency action to combat climate change.
- Further reading:
- Chatham House research suggested that there is an expectation from a growing constituency of customers, shareholders and the general public for corporations to be actors for social good, by moving from traditional Corporate Social Responsibility to corporate activism.
- What does it mean to do the right thing? And how can we do it more consistently, asked Vox, while explaining that the "effective altruism" movement is an attempt to answer these questions, and hopefully make it easier for everyone to do more good in the world. Instead of doing charity in a way that makes people feel good, effective altruists claim to rely on rigorous, evidence-based analysis to decide how to donate money, where to donate, and which careers are most ethical.
- Further reading:
- According to the OECD, by 2030, more than 80% of the world’s poor will live in areas defined as fragile: highly exposed to risk with insufficient coping capacity to manage, absorb or mitigate such threats. With development aid and foreign investment struggling to comprehensively address the causes and effects of state fragility, there may be an increasingly strong case for private money to be mobilised for social good. Against this backdrop, Chatham House considered the role of impact investment. This approach aims to deliver a measurable positive social or environmental change through targeted capital investment to address some of the world’s most pressing issues.
- Further reading:
- Of all the problems facing humanity, which should we focus on solving first? In a TED talk about how to make the world better, a moral philosopher provided a framework for answering this question based on the philosophy of "effective altruism". The top three? improving global health; abolishing factory farming and avoiding existential risks.
- Third-sector and voluntary organisations appear slow to adapt, warned Raconteur. The Charity Digital Skills Report 2017 found barely a quarter had aligned their digital and organisational skills; half had no digital strategy at all. The 2016 Charitable Giving Report by Blackbaud Institute also revealed that, while total UK giving rose 2.8 per cent, merely 7.2 per cent came via online contributions, up just 2.2 per cent.
- Systems change has been attracting the attention of a range of progressive charities, funders and practitioners who are interested in dealing with the root causes of social problems.
- Labour unions are thriving in the US thanks to millennials, reported Quartz. The stigma that unions kill jobs, created by prominent “union-busters” like Ronald Reagan, has largely worn off.
- An Indian man filled 556 potholes in the country’s most populous city, Mumbai, over one weekend to commemorate the death of his son in a bike accident caused by poor road conditions.
- Voltaire said of himself that he ‘wrote to act’, and he wanted his writings to change the way people thought and behaved. In leading his crusades against fanaticism, he even invented a campaign slogan, Ecrasez l’Infâme!, which translates roughly as ‘Crush the despicable!’. L’Infâme stands here for everything that Voltaire hates, everything that he had spent his life fighting: superstition, intolerance, irrational behaviour of every kind.
- The most successful activists embrace backlash, claimed Quartz. Acknowledging that progress often sparks adverse reactions can increase our odds of sustaining positive movements.
- Are too many bloggers the opposite of past generations of activists? Are they, despite claims to the contrary, generally sedentary rather than active, individualised rather than collective, and intellectually disparate rather than united?
- McKinsey created essay and video hubs to highlight how social innovators - from nonprofits and community groups, to social entrepreneurs, impact investors and individuals trying to make a difference - are confronting societal problems and making a tremendous impact.
- The World vs. Wall St and similar movements were just the latest in a growing string of citizen activist movements.
- A recent kind of reverse boycott, a so-called "carrotmob", focused not on steering clear of environmentally-backward shops, but on rewarding businesses with mass purchases if they promise to use some of the money to get greener.Many claim that they would like to become more active, but that they don't know what to do or how to get started. Some are put off by the lack of cohesion between different activist groups, or are aware that there are increasing problems facing key areas of activism like humanitarianism.
- Some believe that novels can act as a social glue, reinforcing the types of behaviour that benefit society.
- In fact, however, there is a wide range of guidance now available to would be activists - see e.g. changing the world together and there are many ways of becoming an activist, including: