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Why is inequality so sticky? The political obstacles to a fairer economy

June 6, 2024
Theory tells us that democracies should become more equal. So why are they still so unequal? Gideon Coolin, Emanuele Sapienza, and Andy Sumner on their new UNDP paper that unpicks the politics of inequality.
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How Change Happens: the podcast

July 23, 2019
I spoke to Jo Howard from IDS about How Change Happens for their book podcast Between the Lines. Here it is: With podcasts, I always try to provide a blog-length set of excerpts for people who prefer reading to listening, but I honestly couldn’t bear to listen to myself this time. So huge thanks to Maria Faciolince for taking the
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How to have Difficult Conversations

May 10, 2019
This piece on Open Democracy by my old friend Marcela Lopez Levy has stayed with me since it was posted a week ago, so thought I would repost it. Campaigners aren’t known for being contemplative. By definition they are trying to change something beyond themselves, and the stereotype of an outgoing extrovert with a megaphone exists because in part, it’s true.

How Latin American is my Theory of Change?

March 22, 2019
A recent email exchange with Asa Cusack of the LSE’s Latin America and Caribbean Centre (plus the Latin American tone of this week’s posts – Mexican, Argentine and Venezuelan guests in one week must be some kind of record) triggered a bout of nostalgia about my early days travelling in and writing about Latin America (roughly 1979-98) and set me wondering:

A primate brain in a human world: Evolutionary biology and social change

March 6, 2019
Guest post from Sebastian Bock. Full disclosure: I’ve been mentoring Sebastian during his fellowship at the LSE’s Inequalities Institute. This was my favourite of his posts on social change. You can find the rest of the series on the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity blog or on Medium.com. Shame. It might make most of us feel horrible, but

New improved Make Change Happen: free online course for activists goes live in March

January 30, 2019
I spent a lot of time before Christmas following and commenting on Oxfam’s new MOOC (Massive Open Online Course – keep up) on ‘Making Change Happen’. A lot of time because there were so many comments (from about 3,000 participants) and they were so interesting. Now the MOOC is coming round for its second outing, starting on 4th March, so

Please help me answer some scary smart student questions on Power and Systems

January 29, 2019
Tomorrow night I am doing an ‘ask me anything’ session on skype with some students from Guelph University in Canada, who have been reading How Change Happens. They have sent an advance list of questions, which are really sharp. I’d appreciate your views on 3 in particular: Are there important differences to note between processes of long-term change and temporary

What might a 100% experimental Oxfam Country Programme look like?

November 22, 2018
Oxfam GB’s new boss, Danny Sriskandarajah, starts in the New Year, but is already talking to people inside and outside the organization about what a ‘Nextfam’ could look like. Here’s some thoughts from a chat with him and David Bonbright earlier this week. The problem: Experiments and innovation at the project level seldom spread beyond the bounds of the project.

One of my favourite stories of change: how an indigenous group won the rights to 1m hectares of land – and a new interview with an NGO person who supported them at the time

October 26, 2018
If you repeat the same story often enough, at some point you start to wonder if you’ve really just made it up, or at least embellished it beyond recognition. One such story, which I often tell at the start of a How Change Happens presentation, is about the Chiquitano Indians of Bolivia and their successful struggle for land. So I

How Change Happens is two years old this week, and Open Access has played a big part in getting people to read it

October 23, 2018
This week is International Open Access Week. It is also two years since we published How Change Happens (How Time Flies….), so here’s a summary of what’s happened since. From a publishing point of view, the most interesting aspect of HCH was that it was open access from day 1. In return for Oxfam waiving its royalties, Oxford University Press

Someone just called their new book How Change Happens – here’s my totally impartial review

September 13, 2018
Finding out that someone’s called their new book ‘How Change Happens’, and that it’s about social movements, is disturbing – a bit like finding out that someone who looks just like you has assumed your identity and is chatting to your mates. But the new book by Leslie R Crutchfield ‘How Change Happens: Why some social movements succeed while others

Health, Human Rights and Plastic Bags: 3 top campaign proposals from my LSE students

July 13, 2018
I’ve been selecting some of the student assignments from the initial year of my new LSE course on ‘Advocacy, Campaigning and Grassroots activism’ to show as examples to next year’s cohort, and thought you might like a taste too. Each student had to produce a 2,000 word project proposal for something they would like to change and an accompanying blog.