Mobilising Civil Society: Can the Climate Movement Achieve Transformational Social Change

Neil Gunningham

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Recognising how close humankind is to precipitating dangerous climate change, activists are seeking strategies to achieve transformational social change. But are they there yet? This article asks: what are the most important steps that grassroots climate activist groups would need to take to achieve that goal? The article's initial focus is on the global fossil fuel divestment movement, a leader in contemporary grassroots activism. It argues that the movement will only realise its potential when it engages in broader networks and alliances, overcomes the psychological hard wiring that makes people resistant to climate change bad news, and engages in a big organising. However, the movements greatest contribution will be as part of broader webs of influence involving multiple actors and agendas and a diversity of strategies and mechanisms. It argues that these can play important roles in steering events on the global stage. It concludes that while states and international agreements will be crucial to achieving a low carbon future, bottom up approaches driven by advocacy organisations and their allies and wider networks and webs of influence are also important, not least in stimulating changes in beliefs and norms, and through this, in influencing behavioural change.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)149-169
    JournalInterface: A Journal for and about Social Movements
    Issue number1-Feb
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


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