To Support a Stronger Climate Movement, Focus Research on Building Collective Power

Hahrie Han, University of California, Santa Barbara and Carina Barnett-Loro, Climate Advocacy Lab. Frontiers.
12/19/18

Despite growing activism, the climate movement still needs to do more to translate public action into the power needed to effect meaningful change. Drawing insights from a conference that brought social scientists together with climate advocates in the U.S., the co-authors argue that researchers can make an invaluable contribution toward addressing the climate crisis by helping to identify choice points that make it more likely movement leaders will build sufficient, lasting political power. This means research should move beyond traditional public opinion, communications, messaging, and activism studies toward a greater focus on the strategic leadership and collective contexts that translate opinion and action into political power.  In particular, new research focused on leadership capacities and organizational conditions could offer movement leaders guidance on how to move beyond motivating individual actions toward building collective constituencies that have the flexibility and commitment needed to act on the interests of public officials over time. And increased research into strategy (versus trends and tactics) would support movement leaders’ decision making.

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