Getting people to come to your next meeting/rally/march or sign your petition or whatever zombie repertoire you’re peddling.  But does it lead to people having more skills and knowledge? Does it lead to them having more connections? Does it add to your groups operational capabilities? To its dynamic capabilities?

Probably not.

And you’re probably doing mobilisation instead of movement-building…


Mobilisation “versus” Movement Building

Apologies if I am repeating myself. I have had a quick look on the site, and can’t see where I have ever posted these burblings before.  Though they do link to “protest versus demonstration“…

We talk about Movement-Building all the time but do it hardly ever. Instead, we do what is “easier” and more visible, namely mobilising. We think they are the same thing, or that enough mobilising will build a movement. I want to suggest the relationship between the two is far more complicated. And sometimes they can be, if not enemies, then exist in real (and unacknowledged) tension.

One allows for

  • a sense of momentum and camaraderie
  • photos to slap on website and in annual report
  • It’s easy to measure success and to boast of it and to use it for more of the same.
  • It’s “finite” (i.e. not an open-ended commitment).

The other is slower, harder, invisible like the bulk of an iceberg. Guess which one gets done.

Mobilisation often involves simplification and pacification.

The repetition by those with the pre-knowledge (banner making, placards, booking coaches, selling tickets etc), that allows them to gain kudos while never stepping outside their comfort zone.

Movement building relies on finding out exactly what people want, what they can offer, what the movement needs. It doesn’t always work, it’s time-consuming and frustrating…

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