Organising Protest:

Where is our Systems Psychodynamic thinking on



Paper (parallel)


Friday 9 Sep 2022


9.00 - 11.00 am


time start

Ms Harley McDonald-Eckersall

Ms Harley McDonald-Eckersall

Messaging and Strategy Consultant, Animal Rebellion, Australia

Harley is a social change organiser, specialising in areas of strategic communications and movement strategy. In 2016 at age 19, Harley became involved with the Animal justice movement, co-founding the organisation Young Voices for Animals with the mission to educate and inspire the next generation of animal liberation activists. In January 2020, Harley moved to the UK from Australia to work on narrative and strategy at the social movement organisation Animal Rebellion where she has focused on using social movement and narrative theory to bring the impacts of animal farming and fishing into the broader conversation around climate action. Harley has recently returned home to Australia to continue her work as a communicator, facilitator and presenter who is passionate about sharing the power of nonviolent action in creating social change.


120 minutes

Redefining Uncertainty – what the cultural and creative movements can teach us about social movement organising

In understanding social movements we often look to the past, developing blueprints and rules which attempt to explain why some social movements succeed in their aims and others fall flat. However, what these analyses often fail to take into account is the profound uncertainty of organising for social change and the reality that past success is a poor indicator of future resonance. In order to understand social movements we should be learning from systems like them, ones which are defined by unpredictability of outcome, uncertainty of input as well as the potential for radical, transformational cultural resonance.

The cultural and creative industries have long been studied as a countercultural industry that challenges traditional notions of how to plan strategy. In 2000, Richard E. Caves outlined the principles of what had come to be known as the cultural and creative industries. Key among them was the principle of demand uncertainty. Even with all information on past success available to us, nobody knows what will be a hit until it is. This principle defines an industry where a small number of hits are the product of an enormous number of unsuccessful attempts and, among other features, seeks to explain an industry which thrives on constant innovation, diverse skills and iterative testing and development.

This paper will apply the lens of cultural and creative industries to social movements arguing that they are in fact the same kind of system, governed by similar forces and requiring a similar approach to achieve desired outcomes. Drawing from both social movement theory, cultural economics, cultural theory and writings on narrative and social change, this paper will provide a new way of viewing social movement organising which puts creative thinking, dynamic organising and innovation at the centre and which forefronts the leadership and thinking of artists and creative workers.

Grounded by the author’s experience as a social movement organiser for animal and climate justice in Australia and the UK, this paper will bring together two disciplines to draw new insights for social change organisers, grassroots activists, academics and those interested in how we can catalyse and support social change.

This paper will draw on the following sources:
Bate P, Robert G, Bevan H, (2004), Towards a million change agents: a review of the social movements literature: implications for large scale change in the NHS, NHS Modernisation Agency, Caves, R. (2000) Creative Industries: Contracts between Art and Commerce. Harvard University Press, Cambridge (Mass)
Engler, P & Engler, M (2016). This is an uprising : how nonviolent revolt is shaping the twenty-first century. New York : Nation Books
Horkheimer, M., & Adorno, T. W. (1982). Dialectic of enlightenment. New York: Continuum.
Popovic, S., & Miller, M. I. (2015). Blueprint for revolution: How to use rice pudding, Lego men, and other nonviolent techniques to galvanize communities, overthrow dictators, or simply change the world. Spigel & Grau Trade
Shephard, B (2011). Play, creativity, and social movements : if I can’t dance, it’s not my revolution. New York. Routledge








Session schedule




Paper presentation


Small group discussion; impressions of the paper and developing questions for the presenter


Discussion forum with the presenter; moderated for the speaker to elaborate their ideas


Discussion forum with the presenter; themes from the discussions




Whole symposium open reflection discussion

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Parallel Paper Presentations

The following are presenting at this time

Karen Loon


Anxious Nation – How historical anxieties shape Asian-Australians today

Harley McDonald-Eckersall


Redefining Uncertainty - what the cultural and creative movements can teach us about social movement organising

Anna Turley & Barbara Williams


Building Social Justice Movements: What’s organizational role got to do with it?

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