Citizen action and opposing agendas



When opposing political interests are using the same terms and tactics in diametrically opposed agendas, Lisa Veneklasen asks how we can transform the power of citizen action into sustained change for justice and equality

What with claims of “Facebook revolutions” in the Arab Spring and “leaderless movements” in Occupy-Wall-Street protests across the world, the media is abuzz with commentary on the changing nature of citizen action. But – aside from new gadgets and unexpected locations – are people really organizing against injustice in ways that differ fundamentally from those of recent decades? Or, when you look closely and compare today’s uprisings and mobilizations for equality and freedom to their predecessors, do you find more continuity than difference? And then, setting aside old vs. new, can we say that present-day strategies are in fact advancing the cause of justice?


Lisa VeneKlasen is the co-founder and executive director of JASS (Just Associates), an international feminist organization driven by regional networks in Mesoamerica, Southern Africa and Southeast Asia focused on equipping organizers and retooling women’s movements for justice and equality. A long-time activist, strategist and popular educator working with economic and social justice movements and NGOs around the world, she wrote A New Weave of Power, People and Politics: The Action Guide for Citizen Participation and Advocacy 2002/2006.  JASS's forthcoming  publication is Making Change Happen: Power in Action.