We are already involved in working with a number of campaigns around London. Much of this is integrated with Roger’s PhD research on the design of radical political collective action. Here is a summary and a taste of what we are doing:
Reclaim Brixton – done a workshop on effective political action and looking to facilitating the process of designing direct actions.
Occupy LSE – done a questionnaire after their first open meeting to assess the response to an open participatory design of the meeting. Working on designing direct actions.
University College London Cut the rent Campaign. Helped design the campaign and done trainings on facilitation and canvassing. Shown that if a canvassor is trained they can double the number of positive responses to the question of the willingness to go on rent strike. Got concrete data to show that people more willing to strike if they are presented with a conditional commitment structure (ie only not pay if a minimum of others do the same).
Kings Graduate Teaching Assistant Campaign – tested the effectiveness of giving a conditional commitment on the willingness of 500 students to email the Kings authorities to pay GTA in a fair way. The use of conditional commitment increased commitment from 47% to 82%.
London Radical Assembly – Helping to create documentation to facilitate a participatory structure for a London wide network.
These then provide some examples of how RTT research can and should be embedded in ongoing campaigns and groups working for radical social change.
Designing mechanisms to enhance the effectiveness of radical campaign groups.
This is the subject of Roger’s PhD research which is now integrated into RRT. He in the process of recruiting students and activists to help collect data for this project. Specifically this means being involved in campaigns to see how they work and design how they can work better. The research is presently based around three mechanisms which are being tested for effectiveness:
Open space meetings: where people come together to discuss a political situation and split into small groups so as to increase participation.
Conditional commitment: where people agree to act collectively with others on the condition that they also commit to act. (Roger and Guin)
Dilemma actions: direct action which aims to be the authorities into a lose lose dilemma – to repress the action and risk creating further mobilisation or do nothing and concede political ground. (Roger and David)
There are of course other variables, mechanisms, and tactics which RTT could research but these three act as an entry point into the field and through this research we may come across others which are equally or more important. The aim then is to accumulate concrete data on how campaign effectiveness can be improved.
Other projects being presently discussed are as follows:
- A reading group on radical effectiveness. (Dan Melissa Roger)
- Learning from Spain: to research the organisation of radical grassroots networks since 2012. How are they organised and how successful are they? (Roger and Dan)
- Information and communication technology and radical democracy: to research how ICTs can be used to enhance genuine participatory and direct democracy (Matt, David, Roger)
- Creating participatory political culture: Given the increasing general alienation from established political structures and conventions what are the changes needed to create a new vibrant participatory political culture (Melissa).
This is just a start and, as mentioned, new members are encouraged to suggest new projects and/or variations on the above themes. Where ever possible RTT would aim to work with other networks and organisations and at least initially benefit from piggybacking on their credibility. This would also help with fundraising. The longer term vision/aim is to help create a network of radical media and campaigning organisations to create a larger scale “complex” for the radical Left. By bring together media, research/training, and political action major synergies would occur. Again this is an exciting vision which needs planning for the RTT and related networks.