A Hard Road to Learn: learning from failed social action
Non-government organisations (NGOs) oriented toward advocacy play an important role in contemporary politics. Despite activists' remarkable contributions to social and environmental health, there is minimal Australian research exploring how these individuals learn to effect change. Environmental literature tends to describe and decry contemporary environmental problems (see for instance Porritt, 1990, 1991; Brown, 1998) rather than offer a critical analysis of the role played by activists in achieving environmental objectives such as the declaration of national parks or increased funding for public transport. In fact, Foley (1999, p.134) laments there has been 'almost no extended analysis of social movements or examples of social action.' In particular, he observes the lack of analysis from participants' perspectives. Activists' disinclination to theorise on their strategies for change is attributed by Heaney (2000) to their preoccupation with organising and sense of alienation from the 'ivory tower' of academia. This case study is a response to these observations as it explores an innovative community campaign from the perspective of an activist-researcher to identify the means and ends of learning for advocacy.
Popular Education: Engaging the Academy: international perspectives