What role for local actors in system change? Fighting climate change in the UK

November 29, 2016
Ruth Mayne, Oxfam’s senior researcher on the effectiveness of influencing, reflects on some personal influencing she was involved with before (re)joining Oxfam. In the development world we often emphasise the importance of strengthening community action but is it really possible for local, rather than national and international, actors to contribute to system change? And if so, why and how does

Active citizens holding Britain’s politicians to account – why can’t the rest of the UK election campaign be more like this?

May 6, 2015
The UK general election takes place tomorrow. I’ve spared you so far, but on Monday I went to what has to be the most enjoyable and substantive event of the election campaign – watching party leaders and ministers being grilled by an ‘accountability assembly’ of the community organisation Citizens UK in a packed Methodist Central Hall, within spitting distance of

8 myths about non-violent activism (from a movement that overthrew a dictator)

February 25, 2015
I’m still catching up on the email backlog after returning from holiday, but while I’m doing so, here’s something I should probably do more of – a straight lift from a really interesting article. I recently signed up to the New York Times ‘Fixes’ column (‘solutions to social problems and why they work’). On a bad week, it can be

14 ways for aid agencies to better promote active citizenship

January 21, 2015
As you may have noticed, I’ve been writing a series of 10 case studies of Oxfam’s work in promoting ‘active citizenship’, plus a synthesis paper. They cover everything from global campaigns to promoting women’s leadership to labour rights. They are now all finished and up on the website. Phew. Here’s the accompanying blog which summarizes the findings of the exercise

People Power: what do we know about empowered citizens and development?

December 2, 2014
This is a short piece written for UNDP, which is organizing my Kapuscinski lecture in Malta on Wednesday (4pm GMT, webcast live) Power is intangible, but crucial; a subtle and pervasive force field connecting individuals, communities and nations in a constant process of negotiation, contestation and change. Development is, at its heart, about the redistribution and accumulation of power by

How can we get better at promoting active citizenship? Lessons from ten case studies

August 12, 2014
Over the last few months I’ve been writing a series of ten case studies on Oxfam’s work in promoting active citizenship, and blogging the drafts for comments (thanks for those – really helpful). These will be published shortly, along with an overview paper on the patterns that emerged across the ten studies. Here are some highlights – the full paper