Research paper ideas

Activism encompasses a wide range of topics, and these are some ways I have thought of approaching the subject. First, an analysis of bicycle transportation movements across cities can shed light on how citizens mobilize groups, interact with local governments, and eventually spur movements throughout a nation. Understanding these type of grassroots green movements is especially relevant because the federal government’s inability to articulate a unified response to climate change leaves many decisions in the hands of state and local governments. Another concrete way to explore activism is through social media is, so it might be interesting to examine how the rise of social media has affected different generations. It also might be worthwhile to evaluate the effectiveness of different organization structures such as Black Lives Matter, which has an intentionally decentralized structure, and Planned Parenthood, which has a very centralized structure. While a specific case study highlights the process of activism, it might also be interesting to consider activism in more abstract manner because it allows for an exploration of activism’s values. For example, considering if the adoption of activists’ ideas into the mainstream results in the corruption of those ideals- I am specifically thinking about the increase of “natural” and “organic” food labels.

The way we shop for food has changed in the recent years. Walking through a grocery store one is bombarded with various labels claiming to be organic, all natural, gluten free, farm fresh, whole grain, or any other vaguely healthy sounding words. As Tim Jordan nicely pointed out, these changes did not appear out of nowhere, they came from a campaign advocating for a change in the ways consumers eat food. What started as people shunning multi-million dollar companies in favor of locally grown food has turned into a multi-million dollar industry profiting off people’s interest in healthy living. At this point, it is unclear if the products these companies are selling to consumers are truly different or just the result of very well planned marketing campaigns. This example poses interesting questions about the adoption of activism into the mainstream. Has the movement succeeded because the public has changed habits or have companies taken advantage of a consumer fad without any systematic changes? Are the ideals of this activist campaign corrupted or have they just been modified? What should be the steps going forward? These questions and more are important if one wants to think about the relationship between activism and the general public.


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