A New Weave of Power, People and Politics

The Action Guide for Advocacy and Citizen Participation
ISBN 978-185339-644-1


Lisa Veneklasen & Valerie Miller



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The guide gives “a new weave” to a number of important issues, and in so doing makes a significant contribution to the growing international literature on citizen participation and advocacy. First, while it offers concrete strategies and tools for citizen participation and advocacy, it locates them in the broader debates on the meanings of citizenship and democracy. At a time when many political institutions around the world are facing a crisis of legitimacy, as models of democracy and representation are re-examined, this approach challenges us to continue to construct new forms of citizenship, based on popular knowledge and respect for differences, in diverse contexts. Second, at a time when there is increased talk of concepts such as a “rights-based approach” to development, “participation” and “good governance,” this manual illustrates how better to understand what these concepts might mean in practice, based on peoples’ own knowledge and experiences, as well as by showing how in real life they must be integrated with one another. Third, the guide grows specifically out of the authors’ particular concerns and experiences in the areas of gender and women’s political participation. On the basis of this work, it speaks strongly to concerns for issues of inclusion, respect for differences and identities, and the need to address underlying attitudes and values – concerns which often get shortshrift
in the focus on organizing campaigns, winning issues and changing policies. A New Weave has been needed for a long time.


“Excellent material for activists everywhere. The Guide combines very practical tools with conceptual discussions that encourage people to contextualize and reflect critically on their own experience. Its advocacy approach is integrated – not merely a technical exercise of lobbying but a broader process that includes and draws on lessons of social and political struggle.”
PATRICIA ARDON, Regional Representative for Central America, CEDPA

“A very comprehensive guide book for activists. It helps people who work at different levels understand advocacy in a broader context – dealing with different kinds of power – rather than only policy advocacy. A solid blend of theory, frameworks and field experiences make for easy adaptation to the local context of users.”
NANI ZULMINARNI, Asia South Pacific Bureau of Adult Education (ASPBAE) and PPSW, Indonesia

‘…at once analytically sophisticated but eminently practical…the strong emphasis on gender perspectives is an additional major plus.’
Thomas Carothers, Vice President for Studies, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

 ‘a significant contribution to the growing international literature on citizen participation and advocacy…A New Weave has been needed for a long time.’
John Gaventa, Institute of Development Studies.
 ‘A terrific accomplishment…emphasis is rightly placed on social transformation, power, and analysis.’
David Cohen, Co-Director, Advocacy Institute; Co-Author, Advocacy for Social Justice.


About the editors

Lisa VeneKlasen is Executive Director & Co-Founder of Just Associates, an international advocacy and learning organization. She has worked closely with dozens of NGOs, social movements and grassroots groups on people-centered advocacy and advocacy training. She has a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Dr Valerie Miller is Senior Advisor & Co-Founder of Just Associates. She was formlery Policy Advocacy Director at Oxfam America and Director of Policy and Exchange Programs at the Institute for Development Research. She has a doctorate in adult education.

Table of contents

Who is the Action Guide for? 
What Is the Guide’s Approach to Advocacy? 
Conceptual and Experiential Sources for the Action Guide
Navigating the Action Guide 
Navigating the Action Guide: Tips for Users

Chapter 1: Politics and Advocacy 
Some Reflections on Politics 
Exercise: What Is Politics? 
What Is Advocacy? 
Exercise: Different Views of Advocacy 
Exercise: Defining Advocacy 
More Advocacy Definitions 
The Action Guide’s Working Definition of Advocacy 
What Do We Mean by Rights-Based Advocacy? 
Chapter 2: Democracy and Citizenship 
The Meaning of Democracy in a Changing World 
Discussing Democracy 
Exercise: What is Democracy? 
Citizens as “Makers and Shapers” 
Exercise: What is a “Good” Citizen? 
Citizen Rights and Responsibilities 
Exercise: Citizens’ Rights and Responsibilities 
Citizenship and Rights: Some Tensions 
Perceptions of Power and Political Change Strategies 
Transforming Strategies 
Chapter 3: Power and Empowerment 
Looking at Power 
Exercise: Identifying the Sources and Uses of Power 
Exercise: Feeling Power and Powerlessness 
Expressions of Power 
Power, Advocacy, and Conflict 
Many Levels of Political Power 
More Thoughts on the Public and Private Angles of Political Power 
Analyzing and Navigating the Many Levels of Power 
What Is Empowerment? 
The Conflicts and Risks of Empowerment 
Empowerment Frameworks 
The Chaz! (Aha!) Framework 
Measuring Empowerment
Chapter 4: Constructing Empowering Strategies 
Why Is Constituency-Building Critical for Advocacy? 
What Do We Mean by “Constituent”? 
How Constituency-Building Changes Strategies 
What Is Political Consciousness? 
Building Political Consciousness: Drawing on the Theory and Practice of Popular Education 
Four Stages of Awareness 
Features of Participatory Learning 
The Dialogue Process 
Codes: Opening Discussion on Difficult Problems 
Facilitator’s Note: Steps in the Dialogue Process 
Other Participatory Learning Methods 
Empowerment and Difference: Thinking about Gender 
Framework for the Action Guide 
Chapter 5: The Basics of Planning for Citizen-Centered Advocacy
What Is Advocacy Planning? 
How Advocacy Planning Differs from Other Types of Planning 
Key Steps or “Moments” of Advocacy Planning 
The Importance of Participation in Advocacy Planning 
Making Participation Work 
Levels of Advocacy Planning: Local to Global 
Chapter 6: Planning Moment #1 - Looking Inward 
Four Steps to Looking Inward 
Step One: Who Am I? Identifying Ourselves and Our Interests 
Exercise: Lifeboats 
Exercise: The Power Flower 
Exercise: Naming Political Assumptions 
Step Two: Who Are We as an Organization? 
Exercise: What Is Your Political Vision? 
Step Three: Where Are We Going? 
Step Four: How Do We Look To Others? Gauging Visibility and Credibility 
Official Political Credibility Checklist 
Constituent Credibility Checklist 
Chapter 7: Planning Moment #2 - Understanding the Big Picture 
Mapping the Political Landscape 
Exercise: Structural Analysis 
Exercise: Naming the Powerful 
The State, the Market, Civil Society, and the Family 
Exercise: Historical Analysis of the Political Landscape 
Ways to Understand Transitions in the Political Landscape 
Looking for Advocacy Opportunities at Different Transition Moments 
In-depth Mapping of Civil Society 
Chapter 8: Planning Moment #3 - Identifying and Defining Problems 
Understanding Problems for Advocacy Planning 
Problem Statements: Getting Specific 
Exercise: Anatomy of a Problem 
Some Guiding Questions to Get Specific About Problems and Constituencies 
Constituency-Building Approaches for Defining Problems 
Exercise: Raising Questions and Talking about Problems
Specific Participatory Approaches 
Access and Control Profile 
Problem Identification Tools 
More on Participatory Assessments 
More on Focus Groups 
Using Focus Groups to Practice Citizenship 
Chapter 9: Planning Moment #4 - Analyzing Problems & Selecting Priority Issues 
Exercise: Priority Group Analysis 
Exercise: Problem Identification and Prioritization 
Exercise: Causes, Consequences, and Solutions 
Exercise: Problem Tree Analysis 
Exercise: Problem-Focused Structural Analysis 
From Problems to Issues 
Exercise: Checklist for Choosing an Issue 
Chapter 10: Planning Moment #5 - Mapping Advocacy Strategies 
Choosing the Right Strategy 
Different Advocacy Strategies for Different Moments 
Timing: Matching the Strategy to the Moment 
Mapping Alternative Strategies 
Exercise: Tracing the History of an Issue 
Triangle Analysis: Mapping Legal-Political Solutions 
Exercise: Triangle Analysis and Mapping Strategies 
Comparing and Selecting Strategies 
Drafting A First Set of Advocacy Goals and Objectives 
Dimensions of a Citizen-Centered Advocacy Strategy 
Strategic Emphasis 
Exercise: Focusing Advocacy Resources 
Chapter 11: Finding Policy Hooks and Political Angles 
Different Political Systems and Entry Points 
Levels of Policymaking Arenas and Processes 
Phases of Policymaking 
Exercise: Mapping the Policy System 
Budget Analysis and Advocacy 
International Policymaking and Advocacy Opportunities 
Women’s Human Rights Advocacy Frameworks 
Advocacy on Corporate Policy and Practice 
A Note on Formulating Policy Alternatives 
Chapter 12: Forces, Friends, and Foes 
Identifying the Forces 
The SWOT Analysis: Internal and External Forces 
Exercise: The SWOT in Practice 
Exercise: Forcefield Analysis 
The Power Map: Identifying Players and Positions 
Exercise: Mapping Power 
Classifying Friends and Foes: Targets, Allies, Opponents 
Analysis of Advocacy Target 
Chapter 13: Messages and Media - Educating and Persuading
Why Media Advocacy? 
Message Development
Exercise: Message Development - Slogans 
Mass Media Advocacy 
Checklist for an Effective News Conference 
Exercise: Media Strategies 
Alternative Media for Citizen Outreach and Education 
Chapter 14: Outreach and Mobilization 
Different Ways To Do Outreach and Mobilization? 
Designing Outreach and Mobilization Strategies 
Mobilizing Moments 
Local Government Information Brochure 
Checklist for Holding an Accountability Session 
Activism In the Economic Sphere 
Exercise: Checklist for Planning Citizen Mobilization 
Case Study: Constituency-building and Electoral Advocacy 
Chapter 15: Maneuvering on the Inside: Lobbying and Negotiating 
Heading to the Corridors of Power 
Lobbying: Getting to the Table 
Exercise: Formal and Informal Lobbying 
Exercise: Presenting Your Case to Decisionmakers 
Negotiation: Advancing Your Issue 
Exercise: Negotiation Simulation 
Dirty Tricks and Calculated Moves 
Chapter 16: Advocacy Leadership 
Leadership Roles: Formal and Informal 
Leadership and Shared Responsibility: “Affidamento” and Pacts 
Transformative Leadership 
Advocacy Leadership: Combining Styles and Approaches 
Exercise: Role Play on Leadership Styles 
Exercise: Leadership Qualities and Skills 
Leadership and Teamwork 
Chapter 17: Alliances and Coalitions 
The Difficulties of Coalitions and Alliances 
Considerations for Building Advocacy Coalitions and Alliances 
Coalition Decisionmaking Structures 
Exercise: Decisionmaking in Coalitions and Alliances 
When Coalitions Break Up 
Exercise: Conflict Resolution Role Play 



The guide is a necessary addition to any reading list for staff working on advocacy in field offices, policy departments, and with partner organisations...New Weave is one of the best available guides providing an overview of the advocacy process as well as concrete recommendations for implementation.

Monday Developments 2007

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