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Theory ๐Ÿ“–

How does change happen?
3 min read
Last update: Apr 27, 2024

This chapter is about the theory of activism. You probably won't find much practical advice here, but you will learn the basic terminology about activism and other related concepts.

Chapter quality: โญ๏ธ (1/5)

About this chapter

๐Ÿง  This is a background chapter: At Activist Handbook, we focus on writing a practical guide for activists. Sometimes, the theory is useful in explaining the emergence of the practices we write about in further chapters.

  • Want to take action now? Skip this chapter. We encourage you to explore our various other chapters, which can be found in the left sidebar.

  • Want to improve your understanding of activism? This is the right place to start.

What is a โ€˜theory of changeโ€™?

Theory of Change is a comprehensive description of how and why a desired change is expected to happen.

Theory of Change

The Activist Handbook theory

About activism

To understand better what we mean by activism and why we are interested in it, we recommend you read the following articles:

Fundaments of activism

About demonstrations

Theoretical concepts

As an activist, there are probably lots of things that you would like to change. These theoretical concepts will help you understand better how different phenomena are connected.

We discuss terms that are frequently used in the context of change-making and investigate their meaning:

Improve this page


When improving this page, focus on the following:

  • Find a way to structure this chapter

  • Discuss our perspective on the theory of change. We already have an article on the theory of change, which should be integrated with this chapter.

Questions activists may have

  • What is activism?

  • What do theoretical concepts such as participatory democracy, peer-to-peer education, etc mean?

  • How do activists understand justice and equality?

  • What are ethics?

  • What are diversity, equity, and inclusivity and how are these concepts relevant to activists?

A list of relevant topics to this chapter

  • Critical theory, critical race theory, queer theory,, critical pedagogy

  • Feminism, gender equality, postcolonial feminism, feminist posthumanism

  • Environmentalism, eco-feminism, ecology, climate justice, queer ecology.

  • social movement theory (revolutionary movements, reactionary movements, self-help movements, etc.)

  • anthropocentrism, non-human rights

  • bottom-up, top-down

  • Art and activism, artivism, cultural activism, aesthetic approaches and visual identity, socially engaged practices, the male gaze, and other gazes.

  • Alternative building, regenerative culture, mutual aid, precarity and accountability

  • ecopsychology, climate anxiety, ecological grieve and hope

  • civil disobedience, violence, nonviolence

Search keywords

People look up the following topics on Google:


Monthly global searches*


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Overton window



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successful activism examples



are protests effective in promoting social change



what motivates people to struggle for change



what does it take to be an activist



how to be an activist from home

what is a human rights activist

how to be a civil rights activist

how to be an activist on social media

*According to Semrush

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