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SoupGate, the radical flank and the politics of good taste 

October 20, 2022
You’ve probably seen the Just Stop Oil protesters throwing tomato soup over Van Gogh’s Sunflowers at the National Gallery this week – the video on Twitter has over 35 million views, and everyone is talking about it. In particular, a big debate about whether this is just vandalism or smart protest. Tom Aston reflects. In an interesting blog, James Ozden criticizes those talking heads in the UK
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Book Review: Civic Activism Unleashed: New Hope or False Dawn for Democracy? by Richard Youngs

July 19, 2019
This book promised a lot, but only partially delivered. There’s enough substance there to warrant a read, though. The book’s starting point is an upsurge in ‘new activism’ around the world. Robert Putnam’s anomic world of lonely people ‘Bowling Alone’ is looking pretty silly right now. The new activism is very different from the professionalized advocacy and campaigning of traditional

How Bring Back Our Girls went from hashtag to social movement, while rejecting funding from donors

October 10, 2018
Ayo Ojebode, of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, introduces his new research on a fascinating social movement, part of the Action for Empowerment and Accountability research programme In a world where movements appear and fizzle out just as they are getting started, Nigeria’s Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) movement is an exception. Meant to be a one-day march in 2014,

Are fuel riots the food riots of the 21st century?

September 19, 2018
Ploughing through the papers for this week’s big IDS conference of the ‘Action for Accountability and Empowerment’ research consortium (of which Oxfam is a member), a new IDS paper on energy protests jumped out at me. Here’s the brilliant Naomi Hossain summarizing it in an IDS blog: ‘Modern life depends on fuel, even while tackling climate change means cutting subsidies for

Why is Latin America Going Backwards?

July 26, 2018
Simon Ticehurst, Oxfam’s Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, delves into the background of some worrying times for Latin America Just a few years ago Latin America was being lauded as a success story, with stable economic growth, political stability and historical progress in addressing poverty and finally tackling the structural and historical inequality that has stymied development in

Book Review: How to be a Craftivist: the art of Gentle Protest, by Sarah Corbett

June 27, 2018
I spent an idyllic bank holiday recently in a hammock reading How to be a Craftivist: the art of gentle protest. Seemed fitting somehow, as the book is all about ‘slow activism’. Corbett, an award-winning campaigner and lifelong activist whose leftie parents dragged her along on demos from the age of 3, starts with a question: ‘If we want our

Violence v Non Violence: which is more effective as a driver of change?

June 12, 2018
Oxfam’s Ed Cairns explores the evidence and experience on violence v non violence as a way of bringing about social change One of the perennial themes of this blog is the idea that crises may provide an opportunity for progressive change. True. But I’ve always been nervous that such hopes can forget that most conflicts cause far more human misery

Book Review: How to Resist: Turn Protest to Power, by Matthew Bolton

September 5, 2017
Full disclosure: Matt Bolton works for Citizens UK, an organization of which I am a big fan, and who my son works for, but if you’re OK with that level of bias, read on. Citizens UK is a fascinating community organization, with a reputation far beyond its relatively small size (currently about 30 full time staff). For a fuller description

Street Spirit, an anthology of protest that both moved me to tears and really bugged me

May 19, 2017
Street Spirit: the Power of Protest and Mischief, by Steve Crawshaw is a book that left me deeply confused. As I read it on a recent train ride, I experienced an alarming level of cognitive dissonance. The uplifting stories of resistance, courage, uprising, revolution etc moved me to tears (something I can best describe as ‘political crying’ – awkward in

Marginalised youth say ‘Enough!’ Guest post by Alcinda Honwana

November 3, 2015
Alcinda Honwana is Visiting Professor of International Development at the Open University. She will be giving a talk “‘Enough!’ Will Youth Protests Drive Political Change in Africa?” as part of the London School of Economics Africa public lecture series on Wednesday 18 November 2015 at 6.30 pm. Young people have caught the attention of politicians as their backing of Jeremy

The Growing Anger of the Merely, Barely Middle-Class. Guest post by Sina Odugbemi

August 12, 2013
I have a guest slot on the World Bank’s governance blog, who repost relevant FP2P pieces. But when I read this great piece from the blog’s eminence grise Sina Odugbemi, I decided to reverse the traffic and repost it on FP2P. Sina’s a comms specialist, a novelist, and a very good writer – enjoy. The growing militancy of middle class

Why Facebook and Twitter won’t be leading the revolution

October 8, 2010
Bah humbug. Great piece by Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker taking apart the hype over twitter and facebook as a tool for social change. And being Malcolm Gladwell of tipping point fame, it’s much more interesting than that. Here are some highlights: “The world, we are told, is in the midst of a revolution. The new tools of social media