Developing activists: different models

US academic Hahrie Han was over in the UK last week and whilst she was here she presented a lecture, hosted by Westminster University. The lecture drew on her book ‘How Organizations Develop Activists’ in which she draws a distinction between mobilising and organising strategies. I would definitely recommend reading the book. (There are also summaries of, and reflections on, the book here and here, and my summary is here.) In the highly distilled version, Hahrie Han’s research explores different ways that organisations conceptualise the role of, and seek to develop, activist...

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Natural causes

There are mixed views about the Today Programme in my house. As a result, whilst I generally try to avoid it, I sometimes end up hearing parts of it. And this accounts for the misfortune that befell me last week: I got to hear John Humphrys conducting an interview about the junior doctors’ strike. The line he pursued was, basically, what if someone dies as a result of lack of cover during the strike? I expect there are journalistic merits to this line of questioning but I found it irksome. It seemed to be more about springing a trap than delving into the issues. And the deceptive simplicity...

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It’s The Sun wot has lost it

The thing that strikes me most about the whole Page 3 thing last week is how ineptly The Sun has handled it. The ‘Check ‘Em Tuesday’ debacle was an earlier sign of wrong-footedness. And now this (archetypally-unThatcherite) U-turn. Ditching Page 3 and then bringing it back is surely not about The Sun’s “sense of mischief”. It looks much more like The Sun being backed into a corner and not knowing what to do about it. All the reasons why The Sun would want to get away from Page 3 in the first place are still in play. And the pressures will only grow. The problem The Sun has is...

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Mobilising vs organising

In this post I’ve had a go at summarising some key points and drawing some conclusions and implications from Hahrie Han’s ‘How Organizations Develop Activists’. The book is based on case studies of two US organisations’ engagement with, and support to, local activists. There’s a lot more in the book, but hopefully there are some helpful pointers here for campaigners who haven’t read it.   In ‘How Organizations Develop Activists’, Hahrie Han identifies, and expands on, a fundamental difference between mobilising and organising strategies. This can be summarised along the...

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Succeeding by failing

I was at an NPC-hosted debate about campaigning this week where somebody cited No More Page 3 as an example of a successful combined online-and-offline campaign. In response, another panel member pointed out that Page 3 is still there, and so logically the campaign should not be claimed as a success. How long Page 3 will still be there is a moot question. It seems a fair bet that its days are numbered. But for the purposes of this post, I’m more interested in how we think about what constitutes success. Especially in the light of the recent critique by NPC, that charities are defending...

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Happy Hat Land vs the Elephant & Castle roundabout

When my daughter was little, she was in a play called ‘Happy Hat Land’. Its moral was that ‘sharing can be fun’. Unfortunately, the lesson she took from it at the time was more along the lines that sharing is a bit rubbish. (The reasons for this are a bit complicated but revolve around the dissonance between the play being about sharing and the lack of sharing actually happening in it.*) That sharing isn’t always fun is also one conclusion from a recent Twitter spat about cyclists and cars sharing London roadspace. With increases in the number of cyclists in recent years it’s not...

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