Social activism seeks to identify causes and sources of social inequality – hunger, homelessness, poverty, under-employment and poor education. Working in conjunction with social workers to provide essential services to under-served populations, social activists lobby to change policies that limit social and economic opportunity.
As important as helping marginalized people get the social services they need is, working to eliminate policy gaps – social activism – is key to preventing such marginalization in the first place. Some social activists protest tuition hikes, while others investigate labor patterns to find out why some areas don’t have enough jobs. Some may study public transportation patterns to learn how to improve an area’s access to goods and services. The more widely social issues are studied and supported, the faster social activists can convince government that not only do such problems exist, but that the government working with the people can solve or at least lessen the impact of some of these problems. To this end, many social activist groups such as The Free Child Project work to educate citizens about how they can put social activism to work in their own areas.
American journalist and political commentator Bill Moyers suggests four roles for social activists: citizens,who are ordinary people who support social change; rebels, or citizens who work for change through highly visible, non-violent protest; reformers are citizen watchdogs who bring issues before government; and change agents are citizens, usually politicians, who work to lead social change.