Activism As a Means of Empowerment and Change. Experiences of the Changing Nature of Civic Organising.

Monday, 11 July 2016: 15:00
Location: Hörsaal 48 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Michael HAMMER, ROCsalt, United Kingdom
Over the past twenty years forms of civic organising have grown in diversity and changed the relationships and ways of mutual engagement between people of all walks of life beyond recognition. The power of organising has become a power we all hold, as opposed to relying on the big machineries of campaigning organisations, unions, faith groups, political parties. More people than ever are activists for a better future. Technology, education, and awareness of rights has fuelled this trend to a point where many of the well-established civil society organisations are struggling to redefine their role, demonstrate legitimacy and adapt to a new age in which they are driven, again, by people’s more independent articulation of needs and imaginations of a better future rather than being the professional instigators of such mobilisation which can and want to define and shape messages for political consumption. INTRAC’s long standing work with civil society organisations suggests that the potentials for creativity, innovation and impact of new forms of civic organising are huge, yet they are also often still undervalued and not always welcome. Experiences also show that crossing certain thresholds of organisational capacity can be essential to transform civic activism, mobilisation and imagination of other futures into lasting drive for change. The paper will draw on our practical experience of civil society strengthening work from a range of regional settings and interpret it through the lens of concepts of social transformation based on the role of event and mobilisation. It will also reflect on the differences and similarities of potentials of new forms of civic organising for change in settings where access to technology is available and where it is not.