Effective Activism: Mapping Tactics and Strategies, Allies and Opponents

Presented by: Michael Loadenthal, Visiting Professor of Sociology and Social Justice, Miami University of Oxford; Executive Director, Peace and Justice Studies Association
Presented at: 13th International Conference on CRE, Columbus, OH
Date of Session: April 6, 2019

Session Description: Social change does not occur in isolation but must be a product of the social milieu it engages while remaining politically relevant, tactically innovative, and less vulnerable to repression, recuperation, and cooptation. Often those working on the front lines of social change find themselves engaged in a never-ending cycle of reaction, rushing to oppose the latest forms of violence rather than engaging in contestation on its own terms. In this session, individuals can get hands-on experience understanding how social movements grow, build, and enact change. Throughout the interactive workshop, participants will be encouraged to explore a variety of questions such as: What differentiates the strategy of direct action from that of representationism and electoral politics? What factors should be considered when determining whether a particular protest tactic is effective or ineffective, violent or nonviolent? What can the practice of mapping teach us about our strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities and threats present? What role can organizational mapping — identifying influencers and understanding bureaucracies — play in this? How can we distinguish allies from opponents, and realistic solutions from false ones? What are the key steps in developing a social change campaign and what distinguishes disruptive, performative and symbolic action?

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