Activism, Policy and Transformation

The driving question is not whether social movements matter in or for social policy, but under which circumstances and due to what factors movements’ ideas and actions influence and inform social policy and broader socio-political processes.

Dr Armine Ishkanian



Project in the Movements, Policy and the Politics of Inequality theme within the Politics of Inequality research programme 

The project on social movements, activism, and social policy, which launched in April 2022, examines: a) the relationship between social movements and policy processes and b) the agency and transformative capacity of movements and their ability to affect policy and social change. Adopting a broad understanding of ‘impact’ to not only include the direct impacts on policy or legislation, we also consider what the transformations movements engender in culture, consciousness, and practices in everyday life, because such changes in norms, attitudes, and beliefs can lay the foundations for future policy transformations.

The overarching research question that this project seeks to answer is:

Under which circumstances and due to what factors do movements’ ideas and actions influence and inform social policy and wider socio-political transformations?

The project’s starting point is to look beyond the Global North, as  studies of movements in North America and Europe have dominated the field of both social movement studies and  Social Policy. Our epistemological and ontological approach is based on an international, collaborative and comparative research methodology that foregrounds and brings into dialogue the research and perspectives of scholars and practitioners based in Africa, post-socialist Eurasia, the Middle East and North Africa, and South America. By adopting a critical, decolonial lens, and through a commitment to epistemic justice  this research will seek to:  1) develop our empirical understandings of the movements’ agency and relationship to policy processes and 2) to consider the extent to which social movement theories “travel” beyond the Global North and to push the theoretical and analytical boundaries in the study of movements by drawing on knowledges and practices from the Global South and the borderlands of the North. 


Lead investigator and co-ordinator at LSE:

Dr Armine Ishkanian
Executive Director of the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity (AFSEE) programme and Associate Professor in Social Policy 

Researchers working on this project:

Arpy Manusyan
Researcher and President, Socioscope NGO

Nvard Margaryan
Researcher & Program Director, Socioscope NGO

Mariam Khalatyan
Researcher & Project Assistant, Socioscope NGO

Mohammed El Agati
Director, Arab Forum for Alternative Studies, Lebanon

Shimaa Elsharkawy
Researcher and Project Manager, Arab Forum for Alternative Studies, Lebanon

Dr Shauna Mottiar
Director, Centre for Civil Society, University of KwaZuluNatal, South Africa

Dr Sofía Donoso
Assistant Professor, University of Chile

Ewan Forrest
Research Assistant, LSE


Ishkanian, Armine (2022) Social Movements and Social Policy: New Research Horizons. Journal of Social Policy.

Ishkanian, Armine and Shutes, Isabel (2021) Who needs the experts? The politics and practices of alternative humanitarianism in Greece and its relationship to NGOs. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations.

Shutes, Isabel and Ishkanian, Armine (2021) Transnational welfare within and beyond the nation-state:  civil society responses to the migration crisis in Greece.  Journal of Ethnic and Migration.