Activism is action on behalf of a cause, action that goes beyond what is conventional or routine and is relative to the actions by others.

Health activism is a growing area of interest for many who work to improve health at both national and international levels because it offers a more direct approach to achieve lasting social and political change. This book, for the first time, provides a clear foundation to the theory, evidence-base and strategies that can be harnessed to bring about change to improve the lives and health of others.

For anyone working to improve the health of groups and communities, this will be thought-provoking reading. It has particular relevance for postgraduate students and practitioners in public health and health promotion.

International Experiences of Activism

International experiences of activism

The Role of Social Movements

A social movement can be defined as a sustained and organised public effort targeting authorities that can use both conventional and unconventional strategies to achieve its goals (Tilly, 2004). Criteria to assess whether a social mobilisation meets the requirements to be called a ‘movement’ have been developed and include:

  • the presence of articulated grievances;
  • policy goals;
  • access to human and financial resources;
  • sustained activities to meet these goals;
  • leadership;
  • participants with a shared worldview and identity. (Freudenberg et al., 2011)

Some of these criteria can also be applied to pressure and advocacy groups. What makes a social movement different is its ability to go beyond the influence of its participant and resource base, to maintain an ideology irrespective of membership, function ...

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