The pandemic has changed the world, and many have attempted to change it in turn. Activism – from direct action to NGO campaigns, from the fringe to the mainstream – has exploded in response to new ruptures to peoples lives, and to long-standing but now magnified issues.
History tells us that such a bubbling up of people power can reverberate through the years to come and given just how much the pandemic has reached into our lives, this seems all the more likely. The response matters here too. From politicians’ gestures to backlash campaigns and legislative developments, this period has centred debates about what is considered (legitimate) activism and who is considered an activist, that will no doubt continue.
To understand our political future, it is imperative to understand this part of our recent political past and our still turbulent present. Demos has long sought to understand the changing nature of activism, and so we are embarking on an exploratory piece of work to understand post-pandemic people power.
To kick things off, we are speaking to activists themselves, to understand whether and how this period has altered who’s participating in campaigns, what people are mobilising around, and how they are doing it. We also want to understand how activists view the future of their work; how it may flourish or be challenged. We will speak to those addressing issues that are of concern across the political spectrum, but in line with Demos’ democratic values we will not speak to, and so give a platform to, those promoting violence, misinformation or hatred.
For further information about this project, please contact Ciaran Cummins at [email protected].