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People Power Manual

Resource for activists
Last update: Feb 20, 2022

The People Power Manual book by James Whelan and Jason MacLeod (2016) is a guide to using people power to achieve social change. It covers topics such as organising, campaigning, and networking, as well as providing case studies of successful people-powered campaigns.

The Campaign Strategy Guide is the first instalment of the People Power Manual, a resource created for organisers, activist educators and facilitators. The Campaign Strategy Guide is available for purchase, in hard copy or download, from the Change Agency.

Campaign strategy needn’t be mystifying, lonely or stressful. Social movements become more powerful as more people are equipped to analyse their political context, consider paths to change and mindfully plan tactics. This Campaign Strategy Guide equips activist educators to facilitate a range of participatory exercises with activists, organisers and citizens. It can also be used as a do-it-yourself guide for campaigners. The guide incorporates 16 handouts, several workshop schedules and process guides for 24 strategising processes that have been tried and tested by thousands of campaigners.

About this book

The People Power Manual is a resource for activist educators. It is a collection of participatory and experiential processes and handouts organised around six themes:

  1. Campaign Strategy (released late 2015, 3rd edition 2020)
  2. Community Organising (October 2016)
  3. Civil Resistance
  4. Working with Groups
  5. Returning to Strength: Movement Resilience in the Face of Repression
  6. Educating the Activist Educator (Ed²)

The People Power Manual has been created to support facilitators and educators working to help local action groups and social movements win environmental and social justice goals. The manual is published electronically as a series of guides. Hard copies of each guide are also available. All funds generated by the sale of the manual go back into supporting grassroots social movement education projects.The manual has been written primarily for educators, trainers and facilitators who are looking for processes to use in their activist education work. We don’t expect people will read the guides cover to cover like a book. Instead, we imagine most people will dip in and out of these pages. We’ve written the guides for readers who already understand the concepts and theory that the processes and handouts are based on. For those interested in further reading, each guide recommends our favourite books, manuals and online resources.The People Power Manual is not a cookbook; it is a menu of options. Even so, the processes and handouts contained the Manual’s six guides are no substitute for experience and the skill of listening, creating a sense of safety and trust in a group, and creatively responding to the needs of participants by adapting and designing new processes in situ. Having said all that, we hope the People Power Manual will enable transformative education and dialogue. Purchase sections of the People Power Manual as a download or in hard copy here.

Outline of the Campaign Strategy Guide

We start with an introduction to our thinking about strategy and its importance in social change work. Before this you’ll find a glossary of expressions that are used throughout the guide. This is not gospel, and words will always be used differently in different contexts. But we feel it’s important to say what we mean and the manual uses some concepts and language in quite specific ways. This glossary could be a useful workshop resource too.

The manual follows a sequence that reflects how we think about (and teach) strategy. Often, we’ll describe this logic using the metaphor of a funnel. We encourage campaigners to begin their strategizing processes by thinking as broadly as possible about their visions, their social and political context, and about power. Step by step, we move through ‘cutting’ problems to issues, considering the steps involved in resolving the problem you’re focused on, who you might work with and how you expect to influence power-holders. After progressing through these analytical processes, we then shift our focus to the narrow end of the funnel; what tactics will you use

At each step along the way, we provide some of our favourite process guides and resources. There’s an extensive and searchable collection of resources on The Change Agency website.

The manual ends with a list of useful online resources, books and sample workshop schedules.

  • The Spirit of 1848: Popular Uprisings in Europe by Jeremy D. Popkin (2007)
  • The Third Revolution: Popular Movements in the Middle East and North Africa by Gene Sharp (2012)
  • From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation by Gene Sharp (1993)
  • The Politics of Nonviolent Action: Part One: Power and Struggle by Gene Sharp (1973)
  • The Politics of Nonviolent Action: Part Two: The Dynamics of Nonviolent Action by Gene Sharp (1973)

External resources


This page is an adaptation of the article The People Power Manual: Campaign Strategy Guide by By James Whelan, Jason MacLeod, published under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike CC BY-NC-SA Licence.

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