Practice tips

Practice tips

Sometimes, people might hesitate to join a social movement. But people will be more likely to join a social movement if they perceive that:

  • The need to take action is urgent.
  • The social movement is likely to succeed.
  • The first steps to take action are clear.
  • Friendships and social ties may develop. (People often join a social movement to be part of a group, to have a sense of belonging and to feel a part of a larger community.)

To promote engagement in social movements, it's important to present the movement as an opportunity or challenge, which will foster positive emotions. If people perceive that joining a social movement might provoke negative emotions or cause them some type of harm, they will be less likely to engage.

Uncertainty about how the social movement will unfold may also cause some pushback. Indeed, the early stages of a social movement may appear disorganized without clear direction or goals. However, this level of uncertainty is normal and reflects the non-traditional approach to change; it should be presented as tolerable and manageable. 

Overall, change is possible but it may take time and patience. Creating a shared purpose usually occurs over time with discussions among a variety of people. Expect disagreements - this is normal.

SOURCES: Bate et al., 2004a; Burbidge, 2017; Serna Restrepo et al., 2018; Sustainable Improvement Team & Horizons Team, 2018.

The importance of relationship-building: "Movements are built by the formation of new relationships among people. People move people, and people are moved by examples of people moving people. The ‘skilled, intentional, purposeful forming of relationships’ on which social networks can be built is essential to the success of social movements—especially insurgent ones.” (Ganz, 2014, p.11)