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Using social movement research to tackle the world's most pressing problems

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Research methods

Public Opinion Polling

Commissioning respected pollsters, such as YouGov, to measure public opinion on key issues before and after large scale protest campaigns. You can see here an example of our polling work for Just Stop Oil, examining the radical flank effect.

About Social Change Lab

Social Change Lab conducts and disseminates social movement research to help solve the world’s most pressing problems. 

 

We seek to inform advocates, decision-makers and philanthropists on the best ways to accelerate positive social change.

Image by Norbu GYACHUNG
Image by Mika Baumeister

Our research

Our report on protest outcomes summarises 6 months of our research into the outcomes of protest movements. We covered topics such as the impact of protest movements on policy, public opinion, voter behaviour, and public discourse. We find that protest movements have had significant positive impacts, and think it's very plausible that they will do so in the future.

Our preliminary cost-effectiveness analysis of nonviolent climate protest in the UK also showed that it might have been one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce carbon emissions, at least in the first year of activities.

You can see more of our work on our Research page.

Our research has been featured in:

The Guardian logo
Vox logo
Deutsche Welle logo
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France 24 logo
New Statesman magazine logo
The New York Times logo

Social movements can lead to transformative change.

From Civil Rights, to Women's Right to Vote, to LGBTQ+ rights, grassroots activism has played a key role in accelerating moral progress, and moving towards a more just society. 

 

Despite this, very little research and funding goes into understanding how grassroots social movements can shape policy, public opinion, discourse and more. Even less effort goes into understanding how we can make social movement campaigns more effective.

We seek to address this gap. We think understanding and supporting social movement organisations is a necessary theory of change to bring about much needed change on some of the world's most pressing problems, whether it's the suffering of animals, climate change, or existential risks.

Pie chart demonstrating the different components that make up a social movement and their theories of change (referred to as 'movement ecology'). This includes three main ways that different parts of the movement try to make change happen: personal transformation, building alternatives and changing dominant institutions (the last of which is split into mass moblisation, structure organising and inside game.

Research methods

Literature reviews

Interviewing experts

Conducting literature reviews of existing political science and sociology research into protest and social movements.

Interviewing policymakers, academics and other experts to determine to what degree successful social change can be attributed to protest movements.

Theory of change analysis

Public Opinion Polling

Commissioning respected pollsters, such as YouGov, to measure public opinion on key issues before and after large scale protest campaigns. You can see here an example of our polling work for Just Stop Oil, examining the radical flank effect.

Understanding the causal pathways and mechanisms for which protest movements achieve social change, and examining the robustness of these pathways.

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