top of page


1. INTRODUCTIONS: People, Purpose, and Perspectives
        The overview:  what the book is about. Who it is for.  Why you will find it useful and interesting whether you are an organizer or supporter of social change. What it doesn’t cover.  Why I say “advocacy” before “organizing” or “movement building.”

2. UNITING LOCAL AND NATIONAL:   Leveraging Reality In Today’s World
          Change, large and small, does happen; democratic social change is built on real relationships.  Context shapes opportunity for advocacy and organizing; we need to think and act both locally and globally. 

3. “MAKE GOOD TROUBLE”: Action, Organization, Power
           The basic beginnings: the core ingredients of creating change are simple and, like all true things, enormously complicated. An overview of the advocacy world.

4. EFFECTIVE ADVOCACY: Be Prepared, Be Positive, Keep Going
        Making your work create a desired result, moving from idea to outcome, requires preparation that can be more frustrating and slow-going than the actual campaign. But if you don’t lay a good foundation the building will inevitably topple.

5. ADVOCACY AND MOVEMENTS:    Creative Anarchy and Effective Organization
        Advocates frequently wish for a mass movement that will be the rising tide on which their efforts float upwards. But advocacy and movements are very different phenomena and the relationship between advocacy and movements, while symbiotic, is complex.

6.     CREATING MEMBERS, CHANGING BEHAVIORS: Creating Sticky Organizations And Pattern-Changing Policies
        There are things you can do on your own, and a lot more things you can do with others. What brings new members and expands your circles of supporters? What makes membership “sticky?” And how does recruiting others tie into your own ability to keep going?

7. GAINING INFLUENCE: The Three Phases of Advocacy – Protest, Pushing, Partnership
         Progressive advocacy tends to be an outsider effort, seeking influence by, or on behalf of, those who lack it.  The purpose of organizing campaigns is to find ways to push in – to not merely stop what you don’t like but to implement what you do.  This requires the flexibility of cycling around the three strategic phases, working for leverage from the outside on what happens inside programs and institutions.

8. INSTITUTIONAL CHANGE: The Systemic Functions of Advocacy – Mobilizing Political Will, Ensuring Agency Capacity, Securing Permanence
          To achieve significant and lasting change, advocates’ increased influence needs to push society’s institutions and systems through a specific set of policy and operational transformations.
9. THEORIES OF CHANGE: Why Things Happen
          History doesn’t just happen; change has a variety of causes. But this confusing cacophony of causality can be categorized and understood – increasing advocates’ ability to gain political momentum and leverage.

10. MAKING SENSE OF CONTEXT: Weaving Your Way Through Local Reality
          Knowing the trends and dynamics of the immediately surrounding political and economic realities helps identify potential allies, shape immediate demands in more winnable ways, and increases the chance of riding to victory on someone else’s tailwind.

11. CULTURE AND STABILITY: Majoritarian Inertia and Social Tectonics
          Default social “truths” – the generally accepted frame of understanding of what is the current state of affairs, what is possible, what is unacceptable – change over time. Progressives are always hoping – and pushing – for cultural change to make their ideas more acceptable, pragmatic, realistic, and mainstream. But the shifting of our culture’s crustal plates – widespread changes in consciousness and behavior – is as likely to release earthquakes as to raise up mountains.

12. FOUNDATIONAL VISIONS: Community, Equality, Freedom, Democracy
          Social change is more likely to occur if you can express your vision in terms of a society’s historic cultural values. But our society has a range of sometimes conflicting visions and values, some of which are part of the problem rather than the source of a solution. Framing a coherent starting point requires some thought.

13. WHY THE PUBLIC SECTOR CAN’T BE RUN LIKE A BUSINESS: Universal, Democratic, Open-Ended
           Business aims to be efficient, flexible, and innovative – at least in terms of pursuing profit. There is much that public (and non-profit) organizations can learn from business and much to be gained by incorporating business methods in certain situations. But government is not a business and, in fact, reduces its primary social value to the extent it narrows its operational self-evaluation to cost-effectiveness.

14. PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS: Creating Public Value through Privatizing, Contracting, and Collaboration
           For-profit organizations perform much of our nation’s production, distribution, and sales. Non-profits (“third sector”) groups do most social services and cultural activity. Governments, even in mixed, social democratic economies, massively work with or through those organizations. But wrapping it all up under a single Public-Private Partnership label misses the large social impact different forms of those relationships can take.

15. ADVOCACY AMIDST TURMOIL:  Fights On Two Fronts
          The post-Vietnam “New World Order” has collapsed. Around the globe, politicized religious fundamentalism and racist nationalism working in alliance with reactionary business leaders are opposed by progressive activists – with corporate (neo-)liberals and “back to normalcy” moderates trying to recreate a dissolving center. Even as the stakes escalate and struggles intensify, advocacy has a critical role to play in connecting people’s daily reality to larger visions.

Author Bio:  Steven E. Miller

bottom of page