Featured image for “Initial Findings on Emergent Agency in a time of Covid – launch webinar and briefing”

Initial Findings on Emergent Agency in a time of Covid – launch webinar and briefing

November 6, 2020
In September we kicked off a really interesting project on ‘Emergent Agency in a Time of Covid’, asking people if they wanted to be part of a collective effort to share and discuss the grassroots responses to the pandemic and start to explore their longer-term legacy. The response was encouraging (even a bit overwhelming!), and we’ve spent the last couple

Social movements in and beyond the COVID-19 crisis

April 28, 2020
Interface Journal are putting together brilliant compilations of readings by/on social movements and how they are dealing with the current Coronavirus pandemic. We will be republishing these compilations as they are rolled out, to join efforts in amplifying the voices of activists and those organizing communities through the crisis. They have a call for submissions below, please write in! And
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On Africa’s feminist frontlines, we need accessible care practices to sustain our movements

July 10, 2019
Jessica Horn is a feminist activist, writer and technical advisor on women’s rights. She is a co-founder of the African Feminist Forum and currently works as Director of Programmes for the African Women’s Development Fund.  Feminism is having its global moment – that heady feeling when a movement’s revolutionary demands are being heard by the majority, even echoed by the

PEKKA, an inspiring example of feminist activism from Indonesia

June 25, 2019
Thanks to Jonathan Fox for politely prodding me until I read his Accountability Research Centre’s great case study of PEKKA, an amazing Indonesian women’s organization, co-published with Just Associates. Some extracts: ‘PEKKA’s work began in 2001, emerging from the Komnas Perempuan (Widows’ Project), which set out to document the lives of widows in the conflict-ridden Aceh region. In the Widows’

Combating corruption through community

April 12, 2019
David Riveros García makes a strong case for placing communities at the centre of anti-corruption work, based on the experience of organisations and movements in Paraguay. David is the founder and Executive Director of reAcción, an NGO that promotes civic participation and transparency in the education sector. Growing is often its own trap. For social initiatives, increased visibility brings the temptation of

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:

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

Can new tech revive the world’s trade unions?

November 20, 2018
The Economist never ceases to surprise and inform. This week’s issue carries an excellent special report on ‘trade unions and technology’. Here’s an edited extract: ‘Support for organised labour is rising again (see chart). And technology may again play a central role in helping a revival—particularly in America, where activists are trying inventive new ways to organise workers. Use of social media is

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,

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

5 ways to build Civil Society’s Legitimacy around the world

May 9, 2018
Saskia Brechenmacher and Thomas Carothers, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, introduce and summarize the insights from their new collection of essays from civil society activists. Pressure on civic space keeps increasing around the world, driven by the toxic mix of rising authoritarianism, growing populism, and wobbly democracy. Battles over legitimacy are central to this trend. Powerholders don’t just

What is new/the same about the world’s new civic activist movements?

May 10, 2017
Bumped into Tom Carothers in the DFID foyer the other day, and he handed me a copy of a fascinating new Carnegie Endowment Report, Global Civic Activism in Flux. Late last year, Carnegie set up a Civic Activism Network that brought together 8 national experts on new forms of citizen activism in Brazil, Egypt, India, Kenya, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, and