This Reading list is crowdsourced by the members of the e-Campaigning Forum. I added to it from the research I have been doing into UK community activism and organising.  The Forum is run by Fairsay and is a lively exchange between campaigning professionals about all aspects  of their online experience and you can join up at

The list therefore focuses on UK domestic citizen-focused activism and
less on for example lobbying, international development or gender equality.
Please feel free to get in touch if you think I have missed something critical.


  • Campaigning and Advocacy
  • Web Resources
  • Handbooks and Guides
  • Values and Frames
  • Emotion
  • Communication
  • Online Activism
  • Community Organising
  • Education
  • Networks
  • Inspirational Histories
  • Social Movements
  • Power
  • Impact Assessment

Campaigning and Advocacy

Gene Sharp (2010) From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework
for Liberation
(4th Edition) The Albert Einstein Institute
Available at

Gene Sharp (1973) 198 Methods of Non-Violent Action Available at

Gene Sharp has been the inspiration of much radical but non-violent action
across the world. These two works provide a valuable insight into his thinking
and the practical options available to any non-violent activist.

Anne C. Kubisch, Patrick Auspos, Prudence Brown and Tom Dewar (2010)
Voices from the Field III: Lessons and Challenges from Two Decades of
Community Change Efforts
Aspen Institute Available from

This pdf book explores twenty year’s lessons from Aspen Roundtable on
Community Change members and uncovers some key elements of successful community
change strategies.

Anderson, Andrea A. The Community Builder’s Approach to Theory of Change:
A Practical Guide to Theory Development
Aspen Institute Roundtable on
Community Change Available at

All campaigns need to understand how their desired change will be
accomplished. This guide offers to activists a method to develop such a ‘theory
of change’ with several useful model exercises.

Iñigo Retolaza Eguren (2011) Theory of Change Available at;ss=;t=;f_id=1811
Hivos, Democratic Dialogue Network and UNDP

Rich theoretical and practical guide to developing a Theory of Change collaboratively. Highly recommended.

Web Resources

Citizens’ Handbook: Practical Assistance for those who want to make a difference

Together we are Louder: helping you change the world The new online home for campaigners – currently in beta

Campaign Central A website designed to link, inform and support campaigners for social justice run by the Sheila McKechnie Foundation (SMK).

People and Participation Participation specialists Involve examine the way we agencies can better engage participants in UK society as volunteers, citizens or activists – a practical toolkit

The Change Agency An
independent social movement education initiative offers the world a wonderful
resource bank from Australia – loads here worth digging for.

Seeds for Change Seeds
for Change is a non-profit co-op providing training and resources from their
bases in Lancaster and Oxford to grassroots campaigners and to NGOs, Co-ops and
other organisations in the social sector. A hugely informative website, with
resourceful campaigning guides and interesting links.

Friends of the Earth – Campaigning Resources Available at A collection of brief but well-structured resources to help make all campaigning more effective.

Handbooks and Guides

Jim Coe and Tess Kingham (2005) NCVO Good Campaigns Guide: Campaigning for Impact

Other resources at such

Jim Coe and Tess Kingham (2010) Tips on Good Practice in CampaigningNCVO (Accessed 9 August 2011)

Brian Lamb (2011) Good Guide to Campaigning and Influencing NCVO

Mark Lattimer (2000) The Campaigning Handbook(2nd Edition) Directory of Social Change

Randy Shaw (2001) The Activist’s Handbook(2nd Edition) University of California

Trapese Collective (eds) (2007) Do It Yourself: A handbook for changing the world Pluto Press

Bibi van Derzee (2010) The Protestor’s HandbookGuardian Books

Jane Anne Morris (1994) Not in My Back Yard: The Handbook Silvercat

Des Wilson and Leighton Andrews (1994) Campaigning: The A to Z of Public Advocacy Thorogood

Lisa VeneKlasen with Valerie Miller (2006) A New Weave of Power, People & Politics: The Action Guide for Advocacy and Citizen Participation

Jennifer Chapman and Thomas Fisher (1999) The Thoughtful Activist: a
Toolkit for Enhancing NGO Campaigning and Advocacy
from new economics
foundation Available from

Battlefront Campaigner’s Handbook From
Channel4’s online and TV project encouraging more campaigning amongst young
people. The handbook is imaginatively designed as a campaign trail offering
seven distinct but linked stages with advice and links in each.

Rob Hopkins (2009) The Transition Handbook: From oil dependency to local resilience Green Books

Frances Westley (2007) Getting to Maybe – How the World is Changed Vintage

Barefoot Collective (2009) The Barefoot Guide to working with organisations and social change

Barefoot Collective (2011) The Barefoot Guide to learning practices in organisations and social change Centre for Development Practice Available

Tim Gee (2011) Counterpower: Making Change Happen New Internationalist

Values and Frames

Andrew Darnton (2010) Finding Frames: New ways to engage the UK public in global poverty BOND Available from

Tom Crompton and the Common Cause Working Group (2010) Common Cause: The Case for Working with our Cultural Values

The Common Cause Handbook (2011) Puts the case for working with values and frames across different campaigns Both available from

Chris Rose (2011) What Makes People Tick – the Three Hidden worlds of Settlers, Prospectors and Pioneers Matador – an introduction to three value modes in the population


Drew Westen (2008) The Political Brain – The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation PublicAffairs

Seminal book on the relationship between neurology and political decision
making (not as dry as it sounds). Offers a blueprint for the US Democratic Party
to sort out its messaging. Fascinating (his next book was due out a few months
ago but has apparently been delayed).

Frank I. Luntz (2008) Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear Hyperion

Right-wing US political strategist’s engaging story of how he helped craft
the Republican Party’s messages to appeal to people’s emotions (probably
prompting Westen’s efforts to do the same for the Democrats)


Chris Rose’s web writings at

Chris Rose (2009) VBCOP – A Unifying Campaign Strategy Model Available from 9 August 2011)

Chris Rose (2010) How to Win Campaigns: Communications for Change (2ndEdition) Earthscan One of the best and practical introductions to improving your campaign communications

Emma Taggart (2009) Inspiring Supporter Action BOND / NCVO Available
from tp:// A
short and direct pamphlet outlining the key steps to ensure that your campaign
supporters take the action you need them to

Dan Heath and Chip Heath (2008) Made to Stick – Why some ideas take hold and others come unstuck Arrow – great read about how to make your communications more effective

Malcolm Gladwell (2001) The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference Abacus This is an oldie but an absolute classic. It is the pinnacle of Gladwell’s writing and explores how information travels and ideas take root.

Clay Shirky (2009) Here Comes Everybody: How Change Happens when People Come Together This gives a fascinating insight into the impact of new technology (particularly the web) on innovation, collaboration and organisations.

George Monbiot An Activists’ Guide to exploiting the Media Available at This
is a detailed guide to ensuring that the campaigner exploits the media and not visa versa.

Maria Elena Figueroa, D. Lawrence Kincaid, Manju Rani and Gary Lewis (2002)
Communication for Social Change: An Integrated Model for Measuring the
Process and its Outcomes
The Communication for Social Change Working Paper
Series: No.1 New York: Rockefeller Foundation Available at It is critical to explore early in any communications strategy how you will measure your success. This paper considers how to go about such an evaluation exercise and is based on broad research.

Charles T. Salmon, L. A. Post and Robin E. Christensen (2003) Mobilizing
Public Will for Social Change
Communication Consortium Media Center
Available at

Kristen Wolf (2001) Now Hear This: The 9 Laws of Successful Advocacy
Fenton Communications Available from

Online Activism

DigiActivism – a World of Digital Activists You can find
guides to using Twitter and Facebook for activism here and some useful links to
activist blogs. In redesign since 2010, so now quickly dating.

Tactical Technology Collective
This is a range of toolkits and guides for rights advocates on topics such as
mobile advocacy, digital security and privacy, mapping, information design
for campaigning. Includes Message in-a-Box and Quick and Easy microsites.

Beth Kanter and Allison Fine (2010) The
Networked Nonprofit: Connecting with Social Media to Drive
Josseybass This is a marvellous introduction for non-profits to
working in a completely fresh way, using networks to drive change. Whilst online
networks and social media are central, much of the thinking is relevant to
face-to-face networks too.

Sam Gregory (ed) (2005) Video for Change: A Guide for Advocacy and Activism Pluto Also available for download at

Sam Aday et al. (2010) Blogs and Bullets – New Media in Contentious
United States Institute of Peace Available at

Brian Solis (2011) Engage! The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate and Measure Success in the New Web Wiley

Mary Joyce (ed.) (2010) Digital Activism Decoded: The New Mechanics of
International Debate Education Association Available at

Smith, Aaron et al. (2009) The Internet and Civic Engagement Washington: Pew Internet and American Life Project Online at

Community Organising

Saul Alinsky (1989) Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals Vintage Books: Random House These reflections on community organising are offered in Alinsky’s characteristic style toward the end of his career. The rules remain a vital
source of inspiration and debate amongst activists today.

Ed Chambers (2004) Roots for Radicals: Organizing for Power, Action and
Continuum Alinsky’s successor as leader of the Industrial Areas
Foundation, Ed Chambers offers an updated and much transformed account of
organising with many of the elements of IAF organising developed after Alinsky’s
time. This is a more sympathetic and modern understanding of collective power,
relationships and the role of institutions

Michael Gecan (2004) Going Public: An Organizer’s Guide to Citizen Action Anchor Books This is a small and well formed introduction to modern community organising in
the IAF tradition.

Kim Bobo, Jackie Kendall and Steve Max (2001) Organizing for Social Change: Midwest Academy Manual for Activists (3rd Edition) – has gone through three editions as the standard organising text on activism

Joan Minieri and Paul GetsosTools for Radical Democracy: How to Organize for Power in your Community (2007) is a practical guide to organising built on the
author’s experience in New York

Lee Staples Roots to Power: A Manual for Grassroots Organizing (2004) – explores the
ACORN tradition of organising in some depth but also practically orientated

Meredith Minkler (ed) (2009) Community Organizing and Community Building for Health (2ndEdition) Rutgers University Press This text book offers a diverse range of papers covering many aspects of community building. Whilst aimed at health
professionals, there is a huge amount in this book for any citizen-facing
activist to adapt to their context.

Jim Diers (2004) Neighbor Power: Building Community the Seattle WayUniversity of
Washington Press Seattle has managed to sustain a civic culture that combines
respect and engagement with campaigners and strong neighbourhood action from the
state. Jim Diers here links community organizing with ABCD insights and offers
many stories of community struggle and success.

John Kretzmann and John McKnight (1993) Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community’s AssetsAsset-Based Community Development (ABCD) Institute Distributed by ACTA Publications ABCD starts from the assumption that low-income communities are rich in resources and expertise that need to be disclosed and made available for everyone’s benefit. This is a practical volume with lots of simple exercises to help start to map the assets of a community in all their
rich diversity.


Paulo Friere (1993) Pedagogy of the Oppressed Revised edition Penguin This foundational document inspired many to engage in raising the consciousness of oppressed people around the world through working as teacher-learners. Highly recommended.

Myles Horton and Paulo Friere (1990) We Make the Road by Walking: Conversations on Education and Social Change Temple A conversation between two great educationalists for social change toward the end of their careers makes this book easy reading and a
great introduction to both strands of thinking

Raff Carman and Miguel Sobrado (eds) (2000) A Future for the Excluded: Job Creation and Income Generation by the Poor – Clodomir Santos de Morais and the Organisation Workshop Zed Books This book offers a global perspective on the approach to
collective economic development – Organisation Workshop – inspired by Paulo
Friere’s collaborator Clodomir Santos de Morais.


Alison Gilchrist (2009) The Well-connected Community: A Networking Approach to Community Development(2nd edition) This is a superb introduction to
networking and community development with an extensive bibliography and widely
updated from the first edition.

Peter Plastrik and Madeleine Taylor (2006) Net Gains – A handbook for
network builders seeking social change
Available from This
marvellous guide takes social network theory and makes it both accessible and
directly useful for the advocate for social change

Valdis Krebs and June Holley (2006) Building Smart Communities through
Network Weaving
Available from In
this seminal work, Krebs and Holley explore what makes networks effective and
how network weaving can enhance their functioning. Much else on the orgnet site
is also worth exploring.

Gideon Rosenblatt (2004) Movement as Network: Connecting People and
Organizations in the Environmental Movement
Available from This
early paper considers how the environmental movement can be conceived as a
network and what that could mean for the way in which action re-envisaged.

Inspirational Histories

Weyler, Rex (2004) Greenpeace: The Inside Story: How a Group of Ecologists,
Journalists and Visionaries Changed the World
Rodale International Ltd

Power, Jonathan (2001) Like Water on Stone: The Story of Amnesty International
London: Allen Lane

Social Movements

Bill Moyer (2001) Doing Democracy: A MAP Model for Organizing Social Movements New Society Publishers Bill Moyers offers a detailed theory of social movements and
their stages of development. He suggests four main forms of activism and
outlines how they are played out – well or badly – in eight phases of

Charles Tilly and Sydney Tarrow (2006) Contentious politics Paradigm This textbook provides a detailed and extensive coverage of how people have engaged in protest and revolution over time and space with special emphasis on recent social movements

Mario Diani and Doug McAdam (eds) (2003) Social Movements and Networks: relational approaches to collective action Oxford University Press This forms an excellent collection of academic papers on the differing roles of networks in activism and collective action.

Vincenzo Ruggiero and Nicola Montagna (eds) (2008) Social movements: A reader Routledge This reader offers a fine anthology of the theory surrounding conflict, social change and collective action from classical sociology to contemporary social movement theory


The Power Cube the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex. This website brings together thinking and research into power over three decades at IDS into a simple but powerful summary. The resources to make use of the concepts and approach in participative ways are diverse, rich and practical.

Ruth Mayne and Jim Coe (2010) Power and Social Change NCVO Available at
This pdf book is an excellent report exploring power in different aspects
of the work of the non-profit sector.

Peter R. Mitchell and John Schoeffel (2003) Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky Vintage A useful introduction to the thinking of Noam Chomsky, one of the most influential activists of our day.

Jennifer Chapman and Antonella Mancini (2005) Critical Webs of Power and Change: Resource Pack for Planning, Reflection and Learning in People-Centred Advocacy ActionAid This spiral bound volume comes with a CD resource pack considering how to develop an approach to collective action that is both people-centred and that takes power seriously. It is packed with great reflections on experience and practical ideas.

Rick Muir (2008) Power Moves: Exploring Power and Influence in the UK Carnegie UK Trust Available at–Exploring-Power-and-Influence-in-the-.aspx
This volume provides reflective case studies of the way four diverse UK
campaigns developed their approach to change. It focuses on how power was
exercised and the primary influences on the outcome.

Power Tools: for Policy Influence in natural resource management at from the International Institute for Environment and Development A seminal collection of resources examines how power is at work in policy development. Whilst located in natural resource management, this collection is of much wider application.

Valerie Miller, Lisa Veneklasen, Molly Reilly and Cindy Clark (2006)
Making Change Happen: Power – Concepts for Re-visioning Power for Justice,
Equality and Peace
Available at
Deeply thought out, this is a superb reflection from a feminist perspective on
the nature and exercise of power.

Henry Tam Against Power Inequalities: reflections on the struggle for
inclusive communities
Available from
This pdf book is a tour de force of academic study made really readable and
relevant to activists. Henry Tam places our struggles with power in a global
historical context and makes a strong case for a different way of handling power

John Braithwaite (2004) ‘Methods of Power for Development: Weapons of the
Weak, Weapons of the Strong‘ in Michigan Journal of International Law
Vol 26 pp 297-330 Available from

Impact Assessment

Claire McGuigan (2002) Closing the Circle: from measuring policy change
to assessing policies in practice – an overview of advocacy impact
Available from
Every campaigner wants to know what difference their work has made. This study
looks at how such impact assessment might be best achieved.

8 Responses to Reading

  1. I’d add Getting to Maybe: How the World is Changed, by Frances Westley, Brenda Zimmerman and Michael Quinn Paton. Vintage Canada, 2006.
    ‘Social change happens when enough people stop saying ‘it could never happen’ and start saying ‘maybe it could happen’. How do we reach that tipping point? What are the implications of a complexity-grounded understanding of social change, for NGOs, funders and individuals?’
    Most important thing I’ve read in many years.
    Thanks for putting the list together Mark!

  2. rhizome says:

    Another addition is Resource Manual for a Living Revolution by Coover, Deakin, Esser and Moore, New Society Publishers. Load of useful stuff about groups, group building, training and education, organising for change and so on.

    It was originally published in 1977 and is probably a forerunner of a lot of more recent books of its kind. You’ll have to find a second-hand copy.

    The Resource Manual connects in with the work of the Movement for a New Society and I found this article on their work and organising a useful one. Lots of lessons to be learnt.

    Starhawk also has a new book out. The Empowerment Manual. Based on past form, I suspect it’s going to be worth reading

    • Mark Parker says:

      Thanks Rhizome – I agree that Resource Manual for a Living Revolution should be added; I will do so asap. It’s now more than £20 for a copy so far as I can find but seveal people have mentioned it so it will go n. I’ll take a look at The Empowerment Manual and look for others to recommend it too!

  3. Thanks for finally talking about >Reading | Southwark Organising <Liked it!

  4. Susan says:

    I’m confused as to who provided the content for this blog in 2011. Some fascinating reflections. Thankyou.

  5. Anita Tang says:

    Love this list – thanks so much for compiling. I’d add Strategy And Soul by Daniel Hunter – a first person narrative of a campaign, full of community organising insights

    • Mark Parker says:

      Thanks for your appreciation Anita. I will certainly add Daniel Hunter’s splendid book (and the study guide recently published) to the list. Strategy and Soul is a fine example of reflective but captivating writing about the reality of campaigning. I learnt a lot from reading it!

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