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Copyright © 2014 by The University of Kansas Social Action
Copyright © 2014 by The University of Kansas What is social action? Social action is the practice of taking action – usually as part of an organized group or community – to create positive change, generally in the direction of greater equity and economic and social justice. The Iron Rule of community organizing is never to do for people what they can do for themselves.
Copyright © 2014 by The University of Kansas Examples of social action include: Organized communication (letters, phone calls, ) with policy makers and others in authority. Encouraging media stories and reporting. Putting together or backing a slate of candidates for public office. Attending, as a group, a public meeting at which an issue of interest to your community is being discussed.
Copyright © 2014 by The University of Kansas More examples of social action include: Picketing or organizing a strike. A boycott. A sit-in. Street theater. Demonstrations, rallies and marches.
Copyright © 2014 by The University of Kansas Why engage in social action? It empowers and energizes populations that have traditionally been powerless, or haven’t understood their potential for exercising power. It unifies communities. It demonstrates to the world that the community is a force to be reckoned with. It may be the only thing that will move a stubborn opponent. It motivates people to take other kinds of positive action. It can be the beginning of a process that ends in a more unified larger community. It can lead to long-term positive social change.
Copyright © 2014 by The University of Kansas When should you engage in social action? When negotiation and reason will get you nowhere. When time is short. When you want to make a dramatic statement that will focus public attention. When you want to energize and empower the community, and develop community leadership. When you want to catch the attention of the public – and the media – and galvanize public opinion in your favor about an issue or about your organization or community.
Copyright © 2014 by The University of Kansas Who should be involved in social action? Planning and implementing a social action strategy should be inclusive and participatory. Involve previously existing community groups. Involve individuals affected by the issue(s) at hand.
Copyright © 2014 by The University of Kansas How do you engage in social action? Get to know the community. Identify the issues that are likely to lead the community to social action. Identify and contact key individuals and community groups. Recruit community members to the effort. Build a communication system. Encourage leadership from the community from the beginning. Create a structure to help the community accomplish its goals. Develop a strategic plan for social action. Decide what kinds of actions will work best in your community, and what kinds of actions the community is and is not willing to take part in. Develop contingency plans based on the level to which you’re willing to escalate. Choose the time, place, target(s), and nature of your action based on its purpose, and on how it fits into your overall strategy.
Copyright © 2014 by The University of Kansas How do you engage in social action? (cont.) Provide training and other support necessary to carry out a successful action before you engage in it. Plan the action in detail, then follow your plan. Organize for action. Carry out the action. Follow up and evaluate. Finally, plan your next move based on how what you just did fits into your overall strategy.
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