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Title: Activism  
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Subject: Street art, Graffiti, Maya Keyes, Wavy Gravy, Pete Gray (activist)
Collection: Activism, Community Organizing, Counterculture of the 1960S
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Barricade at the Paris Commune, 1871
A Women's Liberation march in Washington, D.C., 1970

Activism consists of efforts to promote, impede, or direct social, political, economic, or environmental change, or stasis. Various forms of activism range from writing letters to newspapers or politicians, political campaigning, economic activism such as boycotts or preferentially patronizing businesses, rallies, street marches, strikes, sit-ins, and hunger strikes. Research is beginning to explore how activist groups in the United States[1] and Canada are using social media to facilitate civic engagement and collective action.[2]


  • Types 1
  • The Internet 2
  • Activism industry 3
  • Methods 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7


Activists can function in roles as public officials, as in judicial activism. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., introduced the term "judicial activism" in a January 1947 Fortune magazine article titled "The Supreme Court: 1947".[3] Activists are also public watchdogs and whistle blowers, attempting to understand all the actions of every form of government that acts in the name of the people: all government must be accountable to oversight and transparency. Activism is an engaged citizenry.

Some activists try to persuade people to change their behavior directly, rather than to persuade governments to change or not to change laws. Other activists try to persuade people to remain the same, in an effort to counter change. The cooperative movement seeks to build new institutions which conform to cooperative principles, and generally does not lobby or protest politically.

In his 2008 book, Liberating Voices: A Pattern Language for Communication Revolution,[4] Douglas Schuler suggests something he calls an activist road trip, whereby activism and road trips are merged into an activity that can be pursued on geographical levels that range from neighborhood to international.[5]

As with those who engage in other activities such as singing or running, the term may apply broadly to anyone who engages in it even briefly, or be more narrowly limited to those for whom it is a vocation, habit, or characteristic practice. In the narrower sense, environmental activists that align themselves with Earth First or Road Protestors would commonly be labeled activists, whilst a local community fighting to stop their park or green being sold off or built on would fit the broader application, due to their using similar means to similarly conservative ends. In short, activism is not always an action by Activists.[6]

The Internet

For more than fourteen years, groups involved in various forms of activism have been using the Internet to advance organizational goals. It has been argued that the Internet helps to increase the speed, reach and effectiveness of activist-related communication as well as mobilization efforts, and as a result has had a positive impact on activism in general.[2][7][8][9]

Activism industry

The activism industry consists of organizations and individuals engaged in activism. Activism is often done full-time, as part of an organization's non-governmental organizations. Most activist organizations do not manufacture goods.

The term activism industry has often been used to refer to outsourced

  • Paul Rogat Loeb, Soul of a Citizen: Living With Conviction in a Cynical Time (St Martin's Press, 2010). ISBN 978-0-312-59537-1.
  • Brian Martin. The Controversy Manual (Sparsnäs, Sweden: Irene Publishing, 2014).
  • Brian Martin. Doing Good Things Better (Sparsnäs, Sweden: Irene Publishing, 2013)
  • Brian Martin. Justice Ignited: The Dynamics of Backfire, (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007).
  • Brian Martin with Wendy Varney. Nonviolence Speaks: Communicating against Repression, (Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 2003).
  • Brian Martin. Nonviolence versus capitalism (London: War Resisters' International, 2001).
  • Brian Martin. Technology for Nonviolent Struggle, (London: War Resisters' International, 2001).
  • Brian Martin with Lyn Carson. Random Selection in Politics, (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1999).
  • Brian Martin. The Whistleblower's Handbook: How to Be an Effective Resister, (Charlbury, UK: Jon Carpenter; Sydney: Envirobook, 1999). Updated and republished 2013 as Whistleblowing: a practical guide, Sparsnäs, Sweden: Irene Publishing.
  • Randy Shaw, The Activist's Handbook: A Primer for the 1990s and Beyond (University of California Press, 1996). ISBN 0-520-20317-8.
  • David Walls, The Activist's Almanac: The Concerned Citizen's Guide to the Leading Advocacy Organizations in America (Simon & Schuster/Fireside, 1993). ISBN 0-671-74634-0.
  • Victor Gold, Liberwocky (Thomas Nelson, 2004). ISBN 978-0-7852-6057-8.

Further reading

  1. ^
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ Keenan Kmiec in a 2004 California Law Review article
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Dana R. Fisher, "The Activism Industry: The Problem with the Left's Model of Outsourced Grassroots Canvassing", The American Prospect, 14 September 2006
  11. ^ New Federal Lobbying Law Reporting Periods Begin


See also

The longest running peace vigil in U.S. history, started by activist Thomas in 1981.


Many government systems encourage public support of non-profit organizations by granting various forms of charitable organizations. Governments may attempt to deny these benefits to activists by restricting the political activity of tax-exempt organizations.

[11], or the influencing of decisions made by government, is another activist tactic. Many groups, including law firms, have designated staff assigned specifically for lobbying purposes. In the United States, lobbying is regulated by the federal government.Lobbying [10]

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