For the better part of 2016, I have been diving deep into research on new breakthrough social and environmental advocacy campaigns in order to find the common patterns that explain their success. Having taken a hard look at 47 campaigns with my colleague Jason Mogus, I can safely say that networks and networked approaches are where the power is at these past few years.
Network society, outlined decades ago by thinkers such as Manuel Castells, has come of age across the world and is now shaping flows of power. This is especially relevant to activists and advocates who need to channel power to achieve their policy-change or culture-change objectives.
While we have all witnessed “flash in the pan” instances of networked power – see Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring uprisings – a more durable hybrid approach is emerging, one that harnesses grassroots power while maintaining central control over framing, resource management and shared milestones.
This approach, which we call “directed-network campaigning,” is exemplified by the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, 350.org and the Fight for $15, all of which have punched above their weight to move the needle on progressive policy, climate justice and economic inequality.
Interested in learning more?
- A quick summary of our research has been published by the Stanford Social Innovation Review
- My most recent article with Mobilisation Lab at Greenpeace takes a closer look at how directed-network campaigning is brought to life in the Fight for 15$ campaign
- Our full report is available as a free download on the NetChange Consulting site