Individual and collective action

Individual and collective action


In any social movement, targeted actions are taken by individuals, groups, and/or organizations to achieve change that addresses a shared concern or desired change. In this section, you will learn about the components of individual and collective action and some strategies on how to get started. 

What is the key characteristic 'Individual and collective action'?

The intentional and purposeful steps taken by committed change agents, groups and other individuals to achieve shared goals (Bate et al., 2004a).

Individual and collective action occurs through mobilization – the process in which change agents, groups and others commit and act together in a coordinated manner in the pursuit of achieving change (Bate et al., 2004a; Carson-Stevens et al., 2013; Herechuk et al., 2010).

In the context of evidence uptake and sustainability, change agents, groups and others mobilize to implement best practices. Their actions taken are strategic to realize a vision or goal, such as to achieve excellence in health outcomes or patient safety.  

To take individual or collective action, change agents, groups and others must be committed to a shared concern or desired change and be ready to take action. This requires agency, or the ability to choose to take action. It is activated when an individual uses their power (the capacity to take action) combined with their courage (the presence of emotional resources to face the barriers or challenges that are a part of a change process) to achieve change (Hilton & Anderson, 2018). 

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Accelerate Your Success: The Knowledge-to-Action Framework’s Select, tailor, implement interventionsaction cycle phase includes strategies for how to choose implementation interventions to effect change. This includes factors such as the local context, the desired change outcome (e.g., a practice change), and the assessment of barriers and facilitators

Why is the key characteristic 'Individual and collective action' important?

As a result of individual and collective action, the shared concern or desired change is addressed (and ideally resolved) according to the goals of the movement (Klaus & Saunders, 2016; Tremblay et al., 2018).

Individual and collective action functions as a tie that bonds people. Their shared experiences build a feeling of commitment that helps to sustain their active engagement in the change (Embry & Grossman, 2006).    

Remember: The goal of any social movement is to mobilize individual and collective action. Without individual and/or collective action, there is no social movement. (Cases-Cortes et al., 2008)