Social Movement learning from academic research (or “looting the ivory tower”)

Barriers
There’s the translation problem. Namely, academics write like, well, academics. There are a finite number of activists who are both willing and able to loot the Ivory Tower and then translate information into digestible bits for other activists. And those finite activists have very finite time, energy, attention, morale and bandwidth.
This, of course, has relevance and implementability of “advocacy coalitions.”

There are risks to translator too
Reputational “ooh look Mr Theory has swallowed another book, thinks he’s so smart, thinks he’s better than us…” Nobody likes (to be thought of as) a smart-arse.
Opportunity cost too – what else might you have been doing with the time and energy you’ve spent wading through wordtreacle for nuggets that are obvious without being banal.

Me, I oscillate between fed-up-ness with academics and activists. Am occasionally fed-up with both at the same time, which is bad for morale. Probably at my most productive in the rare moments when I am not fed up with both.

Person spec

  • Higher education
  • A Thesaurus
  • A high boredom threshold
  • High bullshit threshold (tolerance for. Probably built through hormesis [constant small-and-rising-dose exposure, leading to resistance])
  • Persistence (it takes time to skill up)
  • Access through the pay-walls
  • Translation ability (making it simple without simplifying)
  • Persistence
  • Writing with humour
  • Making videos
  • Willingness to do it for intrinsic rather than extrinsic rewards

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