An e-campaigning reading list
eCampaigning/activism - a reading list by Mark Parker.
This is a list of those books and authors recommended on the e-campaigning forum email list, with additions from a wide reading around activism as part of a course on UK community organising. It therefore focuses on UK domestic citizen-focused activism and less on for example lobbying, international development or gender equality.
I have included several online resources that may move or go dead at any time but are currently valuable resources in their own right. The same, of course, is so of the websites here.
Citizens’ Handbook: Practical Assistance for those who want to make a difference
Campaigning tools and resources.
Campaign Central A website designed to link, inform and support campaigners for social justice run by the Sheila McKechnie Foundation (SMK).
People and Participation A collaboration between NCVO, Involve and [another] looking to examine the way we participate in UK society as volunteers, citizens or activists over the (completed) three year project
The Change Agency An independent social movement education initiative offers the world a wonderful resource bank from Australia – loads here worth digging for.
Seeds for Change Seeds for Change is a non-profit co-op providing training and resources from their bases in Lancaster and Oxford to grassroots campaigners and to NGOs, Co-ops and other organisations in the social sector. A hugely informative website, with resourceful campaigning guides and interesting links.
Friends of the Earth – Campaigning Resources (Accessed 9 August 2011)
A collection of brief but well-structured resources to help make all campaigning more effective.
Battlefront Campaigner’s Handbook
From Channel4’s online and TV project encouraging more campaigning amongst young people. The handbook is imaginatively designed as a campaign trail offering seven distinct but linked stages with advice and links in each.
Books and theory
Gene Sharp (2010) From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation (4th Edition) The Albert Einstein Institute (Accessed 9 Aug 2011)
Gene Sharp (1973) 198 Methods of Non-Violent Action (Accessed 9 Aug 2011)
Gene Sharp has been the inspiration of much radical but non-violent action across the world. These two works provide a valuable insight into his thinking and the practical options available to any non-violent activist.
Anne C. Kubisch, Patrick Auspos, Prudence Brown and Tom Dewar (2010) Voices from the Field III: Lessons and Challenges from Two Decades of Community Change Efforts Aspen Institute (Accessed 9 August 2011) This pdf book explores twenty years' lessons from Aspen Roundtable on Community Change members and uncovers some key elements of successful community change strategies.
Anderson, Andrea A. The Community Builder’s Approach to Theory of Change: A Practical Guide to Theory Development Aspen Institute Roundtable on Community Change Available at (Accessed 9 Aug 2011)
All campaigns need to understand how their desired change will be accomplished. This guide offers to activists a method to develop such a ‘theory of change’ with several useful model exercises.
Handbooks and Guides
NCVO Good Guide to campaigning and influencing, Brian Lamb, 2011
Other resources at http://www.ncvo-vol.org.uk/campaigning-resources
Mark Lattimer (2000) The Campaigning Handbook (2nd Edition) Directory of Social Change
Randy Shaw (2001) The Activist’s Handbook (2nd Edition) University of California Press
Trapese Collective (eds) (2007) Do It Yourself: A handbook for changing the world Pluto Press
Bibi van Der Zee (2010) The Protestor’s Handbook, Guardian Books
Des Wilson and Leighton Andrews (1994) Campaigning: The A to Z of Public Advocacy Thorogood
Lisa VeneKlasen with Valerie Miller (2006) A New Weave of Power, People & Politics: The Action Guide for Advocacy and Citizen Participation http://www.justassociates.org/ActionGuide.htm
Jennifer Chapman and Thomas Fisher (1999) The Thoughtful Activist: a Toolkit for Enhancing NGO Campaigning and Advocacy from new economics foundation Available from (Accessed 9 Aug 2011)
Rob Hopkins (2009) The Transition Handbook: From oil dependency to local resilience Green Books
Barefoot Collective (2009) The Barefoot Guide to working with organisations and social change
Barefoot Collective (2011) The Barefoot Guide to learning practices in organisations and social change, Centre for Development Practice
Available from http://www.barefootguide.org/ (Accessed 9 August 2011)
Tim Gee Counterpower: Making Change Happen New Internationalist (Published Oct 2011)
Values and Frames
Andrew Darnton Finding Frames: New ways to engage the UK public in global poverty BOND (Accessed 9 August 2011)
Tom Crompton and the Common Cause Working Group (2010) Common Cause: The Case for Working with our Cultural Values
The Common Cause Handbook (2011)
Puts the case for working with values and frames across different campaigns
Both available from http://valuesandframes.org/downloads/ (Accessed 9 August 2011)
Drew Westen (2008) The Political Brain - The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation
Seminal book on the relationship between neurology and political decision making (not as dry as it sounds). Offers a blueprint for the US Democratic Party to sort out its messaging. Fascinating (his next book was due out a few months ago but has apparently been delayed).
Frank I. Luntz (2008) Words That Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear Hyperion
Right-wing US political strategist’s engaging story of how he helped craft the Republican Party’s messages to appeal to people’s emotions (probably prompting Westen’s efforts to do the same for the Democrats)
Chip and Dan Heath, Made to stick (2007) Easy-read insightful book about how to convey ideas in a way your audience will remember and act upon.
Chris Rose, What Makes People Tick – the Three Hidden worlds of Settlers, Prospectors and Pioneers http://www.campaignstrategy.org/threeworlds/ - in production
Chris Rose How to Win Campaigns: Communications for Change (2nd Edition) Earthscan
One of the best and practical introductions to improving your campaign communications
Emma Taggart (2009) Inspiring Supporter Action BOND / NCVO Available from http://www.bond.org.uk/data/files/emma_taggart_inspiring_supporter_action.pdf (Accessed 9 August 2011) A short and direct pamphlet outlining the key steps to ensure that your campaign supporters take the action you need them to
Malcolm Gladwell (2001) The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference Abacus
This is an oldie but an absolute classic. It is the pinnacle of Gladwell’s writing and explores how information travels and ideas take root.
George Monbiot An Activists’ Guide to exploiting the Media (Accessed 9 August 2011)
This is a detailed guide to ensuring that the campaigner exploits the media and not visa versa.
Maria Elena Figueroa, D. Lawrence Kincaid, Manju Rani and Gary Lewis (2002) Communication for Social Change: An Integrated Model for Measuring the Process and its Outcomes The Communication for Social Change Working Paper Series: No.1 New York: Rockefeller Foundation (Accessed 9 August 2011)
It is critical to explore early in any communications strategy how you will measure your success. This paper considers how to go about such an evaluation exercise and is based on broad research.
Charles T. Salmon, L. A. Post and Robin E. Christensen (2003) Mobilizing Public Will for Social Change Communication Consortium Media Center (Accessed 9 August 2011)
Kristen Wolf (2001) Now Hear This: The 9 Laws of Successful Advocacy Communication Fenton Communications (Accessed 9 August 2011)
DigiActivism – a World of Digital Activists
You can find guides to using Twitter and Facebook for activism here and some useful links to activist blogs. In redesign since 2010, so now quickly dating.
Clay Shirky (2009) Here Comes Everybody: How Change Happens when People Come Together
This gives a fascinating insight into the impact of new technology (particularly the web) on innovation, collaboration and organisations.
Beth Kanter and Allison Fine (2010) The Networked Nonprofit: Connecting with Social Media to Drive Change Josseybass
This is a marvellous introduction for non-profits to working in a completely fresh way, using networks to drive change. Whilst online networks and social media are central, much of the thinking is relevant to face-to-face networks too.
Sam Aday et al. (2010) Blogs and Bullets – New Media in Contentious Politics United States Institute of Peace (Accessed 9 August 2011)
Mary Joyce (ed.) (2010) Digital Activism Decoded: The New Mechanics of Change International Debate Education Association
Smith, Aaron et al. (2009) The Internet and Civic Engagement Washington: Pew Internet and American Life Project Online at (Accessed 9 August 2011)
Saul Alinsky (1989) Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals Vintage Books: Random House
These reflections on community organising are offered in Alinsky’s characteristic style toward the end of his career. The rules remain a vital source of inspiration and debate amongst activists today.
Ed Chambers (2004) Roots for Radicals: Organizing for Power, Action and Justice Continuum
Alinsky’s successor as leader of the Industrial Areas Foundation, Ed Chambers offers an updated and much transformed account of organising with many of the elements of IAF organising developed after Alinsky’s time. This is a more sympathetic and modern understanding of collective power, relationships and the role of institutions
Michael Gecan (2004) Going Public: An Organizer’s Guide to Citizen Action Anchor Books
This is a small and well formed introduction to modern community organising in the IAF tradition.
Kim Bobo, Jackie Kendall and Steve Max Organizing for Social Change: Midwest Academy Manual for Activists (3rd Edition) - has gone through three editions as the standard organising text on activism.
Joan Minieri and Paul Getsos Tools for Radical Democracy: How to Organize for Power in your Community is a practical guide to organising built on the author's experience in New York
Lee Staples Roots to Power: A Manual for Grassroots Organizing - explores the ACORN tradition of organising in some depth but also practically orientated
Meredith Minkler (ed) (2009) Community Organizing and Community Building for Health (2nd Edition) Rutgers University Press
This text book offers a diverse range of papers covering many aspects of community building. Whilst aimed at health professionals, there is a huge amount in this book for any citizen-facing activist to adapt to their context.
Jim Diers (2004) Neighbor Power: Building Community the Seattle Way University of Washington Press
Seattle has managed to sustain a civic culture that combines respect and engagement with campaigners and strong neighbourhood action from the state. Jim Diers here links community organizing with ABCD insights and offers many stories of community struggle and success.
John Kretzmann and John McKnight (1993) Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community’s Assets Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) Institute Distributed by ACTA Publications
ABCD starts from the assumption that low-income communities are rich in resources and expertise that need to be disclosed and made available for everyone’s benefit. This is a practical volume with lots of simple exercises to help start to map the assets of a community in all their rich diversity.
Paulo Friere (1993) Pedagogy of the Oppressed Revised edition Penguin
This foundational document inspired many to engage in raising the consciousness of oppressed people around the world through working as teacher-learners. Highly recommended.
Myles Horton and Paulo Friere (1990) We Make the Road by Walking: Conversations on Education and Social Change Temple
A conversation between two great educationalists for social change toward the end of their careers makes this book easy reading and a great introduction to both strands of thinking.
Raff Carman and Miguel Sobrado (eds) (2000) A Future for the Excluded: Job Creation and Income Generation by the Poor - Clodomir Santos de Morais and the Organisation Workshop Zed Books
This book offers a global perspective on the approach to collective economic development – Organisation Workshop - inspired by Paulo Friere’s collaborator Clodomir Santos de Morais.
Alison Gilchrist (2009) The Well-connected Community: A Networking Approach to Community Development (2nd edition) This is a superb introduction to networking and community development with an extensive bibliography and widely updated from the first edition.
Peter Plastrik and Madeleine Taylor (2006) Net Gains - A handbook for network builders seeking social change Available from www.racialequitytools.org/resourcefiles/plastrick.pdf (Accessed 9 August 2011)
This marvellous guide takes social network theory and makes it both accessible and directly useful for the advocate for social change
Valdis Krebs and June Holley (2006) Building Smart Communities through Network Weaving (Accessed 9 August 2011)
In this seminal work, Krebs and Holley explore what makes networks effective and how network weaving can enhance their functioning. Much else on the orgnet site is also worth exploring.
Gideon Rosenblatt (2004) Movement as Network: Connecting People and Organizations in the Environmental Movement (Accessed 9 August 2011)
This early paper considers how the environmental movement can be conceived as a network and what that could mean for the way in which action re-envisaged.
Bill Moyer (2001) Doing Democracy: A MAP Model for Organizing Social Movements New Society Publishers
Bill Moyers offers a detailed theory of social movements and their stages of development. He suggests four main forms of activism and outlines how they are played out – well or badly – in eight phases of campaigning.
Tilly, Charles and Tarrow, Sydney (2006) Contentious politics Paradigm
This textbook provides a detailed and extensive coverage of how people have engaged in protest and revolution over time and space with special emphasis on recent social movements
Mario Diani and Doug McAdam (eds) (2003) Social Movements and Networks: relational approaches to collective action Oxford University Press
This forms an excellent collection of academic papers on the differing roles of networks in activism and collective action.
Vincenzo Ruggiero and Nicola Montagna (eds) (2008) Social movements: A reader Routledge
This reader offers a fine anthology of the theory surrounding conflict, social change and collective action from classical sociology to contemporary social movement theory
The Power Cube from the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex.
This website brings together thinking and research into power over three decades at IDS into a simple but powerful summary. The resources to make use of the concepts and approach in participative ways are diverse, rich and practical.
Ruth Mayne and Jim Coe (2010) Power and Social Change NCVO (Accessed 9 August 2011)
This pdf book is an excellent report exploring power in different aspects of the work of the non-profit sector.
Peter R. Mitchell and John Schoeffel (2003) Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky Vintage A useful introduction to the thinking of Noam Chomsky, one of the most influential activists of our day.
Jennifer Chapman and Antonella Mancini (2005) Critical Webs of Power and Change: Resource Pack for Planning, Reflection and Learning in People-Centred Advocacy ActionAid
This spiral bound volume comes with a CD resource pack considering how to develop an approach to collective action that is both people-centred and that takes power seriously. It is packed with great reflections on experience and practical ideas.
Rick Muir (2008) Power Moves: Exploring Power and Influence in the UK Carnegie UK Trust (Accessed 9 August 2011) This volume provides reflective case studies of the way four diverse UK campaigns developed their approach to change. It focuses on how power was exercised and the primary influences on the outcome.
Power Tools: for Policy Influence in natural resource management from the International Institute for Environment and Development (Accessed 9 August 2011)
A seminal collection of resources examines how power is at work in policy development. Whilst located in natural resource management, this collection is of much wider application.
Valerie Miller, Lisa Veneklasen, Molly Reilly and Cindy Clark (2006) Making Change Happen: Power – Concepts for Re-visioning Power for Justice, Equality and Peace (Accessed 9 August 2011) Deeply thought out, this is a superb reflection from a feminist perspective on the nature and exercise of power.
Henry Tam Against Power Inequalities: reflections on the struggle for inclusive communities (Accessed 9 August 2011)
This pdf book is a tour de force of academic study made really readable and relevant to activists. Henry Tam places our struggles with power in a global historical context and makes a strong case for a different way of handling power today.
John Braithwaite (2004) ‘Methods of Power for Development: Weapons of the Weak, Weapons of the Strong‘ in Michigan Journal of International Law Vol 26 pp 297-330 Available from (Accessed 9 August 2011)
Claire McGuigan (2002) Closing the Circle: from measuring policy change to assessing policies in practice – an overview of advocacy impact assessment (Accessed 9 August 2011)
Every campaigner wants to know what difference their work has made. This study looks at how such impact assessment might be best achieved.
About Mark Parker: "I have been working for a national community sector network for the last decade and more. Last year, I took an opportunity to join the first ever MA in Community Organising at Queen Mary University of London at Mile End. This involved four taught courses, a placement with London Citizens and a dissertation on community activism. I am now working as a trainee community organiser in LB Southwark, working alongside the community to enable us to better listen to each other, get more organised, gain some collective power and begin to be proud about ourselves and our future."