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The 8 Stages Of Successful Social-Political Movements

Bill Moyer portrait

The Movement Action Plan by Bill Moyer

Long-time political activist and social change agent Bill Moyer, who developed the Movement Action Plan Model of how successful progressive movements evolve makes his last public presentation in this video six weeks before he died at the age of 69.

Moyer worked with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference on poverty campaigns, and also worked to stop the Vietnam War and nuclear energy, worked with the American Indian Movement, as well as on housing and disarmament, among other causes over his 40 year career in social movements.


Doing DemocracyBill Moyer described the natural arc of development of people-powered movements in The Movement Action Plan: A Strategic Framework Describing The Eight Stages of Successful Social Movements.  This article is essential reading for activists and therefore we include a link on the strategy page’s tools for Popular Resistance.   Moyer expanded this 1987 article into, Doing Democracy, a book published in 2001, a year before he died. Moyer was the principal author along with JoAnn McAllister, Mary Lou Finley and Steven Soifer.

The video below is his last public presentation, in it he summarized the insights of a lifetime of experience about how social movements grow and succeed, as well as his vision of a new culture emerging through the cracks of a declining empire.

Moyer’s work is heartening for social justice activists because it shows how movements grow, recede and change their functions at different stages and that this is a natural process.  By knowing the stage of development we can better define the work that is needed to achieve success; and predict how the power structure and public will react to our actions.

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