Understanding Activism

Activists are struggling for open, democratic societies across the globe with access to few resources and little support. The concentration of existing support often comes from external actors—foreign governments, foundations, nongovernmental organizations, and private individuals—yet there has been insufficient research on how activists experience this support, until now. Understanding Activism breaks new ground by combining first-person accounts from activists with quantitative data across closed, semi-closed, and closing societies in order to understand the current support available to activists in contrast with what activists actually want.

Understanding Activism provides critical insights into practices that can be adopted across civil society to ensure more effective support to nonviolent movements at the forefront of securing inclusive, participatory democracies.

The research centered on three key questions:

  1. What type of support do activists receive?
  2. Which types of support are helpful or harmful?
  3. What types of support do activists really want?