Improvisation takes a lot of planification: strategic communication and sociopolitical contemporary activism

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Activists are producers of strategic communication for social change and play a mediating role regarding (re)producing and challenging established cultural meanings. In a global context of high volatility, uncertainty, complexity,and ambiguity, contemporary activism needs to introduce significant innovations in current mass mobilizations. Otherwise, it falls into the risk of becoming irrelevant. Within this context, new forms of creative activism are arousing, which are linked to the contextual strategic approach to the repertoire of disruptive tactics and techniques. Strategic communication,or the intentional use of communication by organizations to promote their mission, is inevitably associated with the exercise of power in negotiations among different social actors. In this essay, we argue that the strategical communication approaches that have successfully established mass consumption as a way of life can be used to give public voice to sociopolitical contemporary activists and to increase shared global views for social change, such as the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development. We do it so through a literature review on this topic, followed by a description of practical examples. Strategic communication plays a crucial role when it comes to inducing social change. Its applicability in an organizational context is relevant for activist movements as it facilitates the organization of collective action, the call for civic participation and interaction with other social and political institutions. The use of strategic approaches to communication in an organizational context, such as the management of identity, image and reputation, and the approach to political power through citizen lobby, can be ways for contemporary activist groups to better mobilize, communicate with their supporters, and seek to influence political decisions. Reflecting and planning before acting or reacting can contribute to the achievement of a voice and legitimacy to operate in the public sphere.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStrategic Communication in Context
EditorsSara Balonas, Teresa Ruão, María-Victoria Carrillo
PublisherUniversidade do Minho
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9789898974426
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2021


  • Strategic communication
  • Activism
  • Mobilization
  • Social change


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