active citizenship

Where do South Africa’s activists go from here? A Cape Town conversation

Duncan Green - August 1, 2017

My last morning in Cape Town last week was spent deep in discussion with three fine organizations – two local, one global. The global one was the International Budget Partnership, who I’ve blogged about quite a lot recently. The local ones were very different and both brilliant: the Social Justice Coalition and the Development Action Group. SJC favours a largely outside track, famously organizing local …

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What can Activists do in a Political Downturn?

Duncan Green - June 15, 2017

The recent discussions with the International Budget Partnership also got me thinking about the options facing activists in political downturns. IBP sees these as potentially multiple: the crackdown on civil society in increasing numbers of countries is closing the space for budget activism, and there may also be a kind of ‘peak transparency’, where the issue passes the summit of the hype curve and descends …

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What is new/the same about the world’s new civic activist movements?

Duncan Green - May 10, 2017

Bumped into Tom Carothers in the DFID foyer the other day, and he handed me a copy of a fascinating new Carnegie Endowment Report, Global Civic Activism in Flux. Late last year, Carnegie set up a Civic Activism Network that brought together 8 national experts on new forms of citizen activism in Brazil, Egypt, India, Kenya, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, and Ukraine, who each contributed chapters. …

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Social Accountability from the Trenches: 6 Critical Reflections

Duncan Green - May 3, 2017

Guest post by Gopa Kumar Thampi of The Asia Foundation There is a clearly a surge in social accountability initiatives across the globe today. From informal expressions at the grassroots to entrenched voices in corridors of power, the social accountability multiverse has become stronger and diverse. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that we are indeed witnessing the rise of an ‘audit society’ that animates …

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Preaching to the Converted and the Path to Unlearning: this week’s random conversations

Duncan Green - January 13, 2017

Had some interesting if random discussions this week – I work from home a lot, and then get far too excited when I actually end up in a room with interesting people.  Two thoughts (among many) seem worth capturing: Preaching to the converted: This is something we’re not supposed to do – waste of time all agreeing with each other, right? We need to get …

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What role for local actors in system change? Fighting climate change in the UK

Duncan Green - November 29, 2016

Ruth Mayne, Oxfam’s senior researcher on the effectiveness of influencing, reflects on some personal influencing she was involved with before (re)joining Oxfam. In the development world we often emphasise the importance of strengthening community action but is it really possible for local, rather than national and international, actors to contribute to system change? And if so, why and how does this happen, and under what …

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Active citizens holding Britain’s politicians to account – why can’t the rest of the UK election campaign be more like this?

Duncan Green - May 6, 2015

The UK general election takes place tomorrow. I’ve spared you so far, but on Monday I went to what has to be the most enjoyable and substantive event of the election campaign – watching party leaders and ministers being grilled by an ‘accountability assembly’ of the community organisation Citizens UK in a packed Methodist Central Hall, within spitting distance of the Houses of Parliament. Citizens …

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8 myths about non-violent activism (from a movement that overthrew a dictator)

Duncan Green - February 25, 2015

I’m still catching up on the email backlog after returning from holiday, but while I’m doing so, here’s something I should probably do more of – a straight lift from a really interesting article. I recently signed up to the New York Times ‘Fixes’ column (‘solutions to social problems and why they work’). On a bad week, it can be a bit ‘Ted talks’ – …

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14 ways for aid agencies to better promote active citizenship

Duncan Green - January 21, 2015

As you may have noticed, I’ve been writing a series of 10 case studies of Oxfam’s work in promoting ‘active citizenship’, plus a synthesis paper. They cover everything from global campaigns to promoting women’s leadership to labour rights. They are now all finished and up on the website. Phew. Here’s the accompanying blog which summarizes the findings of the exercise (with links to all the …

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People Power: what do we know about empowered citizens and development?

Duncan Green - December 2, 2014

This is a short piece written for UNDP, which is organizing my Kapuscinski lecture in Malta on Wednesday (4pm GMT, webcast live) Power is intangible, but crucial; a subtle and pervasive force field connecting individuals, communities and nations in a constant process of negotiation, contestation and change. Development is, at its heart, about the redistribution and accumulation of power by citizens. Much of the standard …

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