WHEN DEVELOPING AND CARRYING OUT A CAMPAIGN FPR SOCIAL CHANGE, WE NEED TO GO BEYOND PUBLICISING AND PROTESTING SOCIAL INJUSTICES, REFUSING TO CO-OPERATE WITH OPPRESSORS, AND INTERVENING. WE NEED TO IMPLEMENT CONTRUCTIVE PROGRAMS IN WHICH WE ACTUALLY LIVE THE CHANGE THAT IS OUR GOAL.
The early stages of a campaign emphasise bringing an issue to the public eye. A well organised campaign will use the public domain in numerous productive ways to raise the publics concern and interest in the cause and encourage change.
If this does not acheive desired results, the campaign may move to ‘stage two’. In stage two the campaign moves to increase public pressure by staging legal forms of non-cooperation, boycotting services, organisations and individuals who are in support of the issues that your campaign is seeking to change. The goal at this stage is to raise the the stakes and minimise the rewards for those committing or benefiting from the injustices. At the same time the campaign will most likely still continue oit’s actions from stage one.
This might be sufficient to reach the desired results. But if not, participants may look at other non conflicting action to move onto the next level. This may be risky for some activists, and must be carefully planned prior to making any solid committment to the campaign. This stage will present a much more powerful and poignant message or statement ot the public. The third stage of escalation is civil disobedience, both as a protest but also as civil usurption, carrying out actions that excercise authority or implement a structure without a legal right to do so. Examples of this can be seen all over the world in the occupy movement, where self contained camps are set up to provide sanctuary for those who are actively advocating for change on a global level.
As campaigns develop, their strategies will escalate from one stage to the next but they will continue to use actions from the previous stages. It is useful to look at the interactions between each stage and realise the full implications of each stage prior to making the next step on your campaign and the kind of actions that go with each stage of escalation. A campaign may consciously decide to move from one stage to another, up or down, as it chooses the most effective plan of action for each situation. Throughout the campaign it is important to maintain an ongoing dialogue with your opponents, trying ot find solutions that include all parties. At certain times, for example, the dialogue may start more easily if the campaign temporarily reduces it’s public pressure. A campaign may also decide that it is more effective to increase it’s work on constructive action and to hold back on confrontational actions, or vice versa.
Carrying out a successful campaignn requires an ongoing evaluation of the campaigns activities and their effectiveness. You group can use the following framework to track a campaigns implementation of constructive as well as confrontational actions over time to evaluate how they work together to achieve your goals.
STAGE OF ESCALATION.
1. BRING THE ISSUE TO THE PUBLIC ARENA: Confrontational action would involve protest, demonstration, petition, vigil. Constructive action would involve Presenting alternatives, teaching lectures, seminars, conferences. This works by publicising and convincing.
2. LEGAL ACTIONS THAT DEAL WITH THE ISSUE: Confrontation action would include legal non-cooperation, boycotting, go-slows. Constructive action would consist of legal innovative activities, such as non-violent interactions, ethiczl investments, alternative solutions. This would work by raising the stakes and minimising therewards for those committed or committing the injustice.
3. ILLEGAL ACTIONS THAT DEAL WITH THE ISSUE: Confrontational action would be civil disobedience, sit-ins, resistance to the opposition. Constructive action may include pirate radio stations, sanctuary movement, taking over derelict or empty buildings with a view to proving that your ideas for change are possible.
Confrontational action must always be directed against injustice within your community and society in general. Constructive actions are those that help to construct an alternative and just order within your community or society.
(Next blog will look at the role of social media in your campaign)