A Citizens’ Assembly should never been advertised as an end in itself: rather it should be a start of a journey. A journey of Activism; a journey of Advocacy; – and a journey of further Learning. All three should be discussed in the final 20 minutes of the Assembly – and the points emerging should be summarised in a follow-up email / letter to every jury and audience member.
It is important to distinguish between Advocacy and Activism: they are similar – but different.
Advocacy is often seen as working “within the system” whereas activism is seen as working “outside the system” to generate change. Advocacy is often thought of as “an act of publicly representing an individual, organisation, or idea” and used as an umbrella term for active lobbying methods such as: letter writing, meeting politicians, running public forums, questions in parliament, participating in various consultative processes. An MCA is NOT Advocacy – as it is designed to explore all sides of an issue – and come to an informed decision that can then be advocated for.
Activism can be viewed as a form of advocacy as it often takes the form of taking direct action to achieve a political or social goal. Activists use tactics that can alienate government and the wider community; but they can also gain support in the community as well. The term implies a direct action or intervention such as a protest in favour of change. ‘Activists’ are often portrayed in the media in a negative way – where advocacy and lobbying are seen as part of natural political behaviour. Activists are usually people who have given up on the normal channels of advocacy as they have been seen not to work. Extinction Rebellion, Black Lives Matter and Schools Strike 4 Climate are some of the best examples of Activism we have seen in recent years. Peace Child Intl. stresses the imperative of NON-VIOLENCE in all Action.
- The act of arguing in favour of a cause, idea, or policy – generally communicating directly with decision makers
- Advocacy has three key components: relationships, sound policy, and respect
- Advocacy could be described as pre-emptive influence – It can be either pro-active or re-active –
- Effective advocacy generally has a non adversarial or soft touch approach arguing for changes in budget allocations, taxation, laws preventing types of behaviour, new policy development etc.
- The policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about policy, political or social change
- Often the result of a lack of relationships, or, unsuccessful advocacy – general based around a single issue
- Sometimes uses questionable tactics – or even illegal (civil disobedience, non violent direct action) activities can be deliberate strategies
- Tends to be reactive to an issue
- Lacks direct communication and relationships with key decision makers, hence relies heavily on media
- Goal is to raise public awareness of problem to exert political pressure
Further Learning: Further learning could introduce a variety of things:
- An Evening Course at a local college
- An External Degree course at a local University
- A background study to support your programme of Advocacy and Activism
- An Agreed Reading / Viewing List (See HERE for examples – Section to be completed))
- Another MCA