About Michael Edwards

Michael Edwards is a writer and activist based in upstate New York. He is the editor of the Transformation section of openDemocracy and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos in New York. Mike’s latest books include Civil Society, Small Change: Why Business Won’t Save the World, and the Oxford Handbook of Civil Society. His website is futurepositive.org.

Articles by Michael Edwards

This week's guest editors

It’s time to put money out of its misery

Money talks, but what language is it speaking? New ideas and experiments could reposition money as a source of social justice as well as personal fulfillment. This is the final article in our series on the role of money in the transformation of society.

Augustine Carter, 85, struggles to protect her voting rights in Virginia

“Anytime you take the right away from me to vote”, says 85-year old Augustine Carter in Richmond, Virginia, “that takes away my freedom. And if I don’t have no freedom, then that makes me a slave” (video, 6 minutes).

Money: in terms of social change, it’s both ‘beauty and the beast’

Is money a curse or a cure in relation to injustice and inequality? Welcome to a provocative new series on the role of money in the transformation of society. 

Who’s afraid of partisan politics?

Bi-partisan deal-making is often celebrated as progress, but is it any basis for transforming politics in America? This is the final article in our series on trans-partisan politics.

“Stay creative, stay vigilant, stay positive:” fighting for a living wage in California

WATCH: hotel maids are among the least protected workers in America, yet a coalition of groups in Los Angeles has organized successfully to raise their wages. Two community organizers reflect on the struggle and how it has transformed them (Video, 6 minutes).

12-year old Madison Kimrey rocks North Carolina politics

You’re never too young (or too old) to get involved in politics. Watch this video and get inspired.

“Love 2.0:” a conversation with Barbara Fredrickson

Is there any scientific basis for believing that love can be a force for change in politics and economics? An interview with one of the world’s leading authorities on positive psychology and the value of “micro-moments of connection.”

Loving kindness – it just takes practice.

Want to meditate but don’t know how? Try these step-by-step instructions on “loving kindness meditation” from author Barbara Fredrickson. 

Elemental Dr Watson?

Michael Edwards explores a new documentary about three people who are confronting environmental degradation in a spirit of transformational activism.

Has Tim Ryan lost his mind?

The movement for “mindfulness meditation” is growing, but can it break the modern political gridlock? An interview with Tim Ryan, the US Congressman who wants a “quiet revolution” in America.

Welcome to Transformation

Can fusing personal and social change radically transform our societies? We say yes. An introduction and six-month evaluation of openDemocracy’s new section: Transformation.

Michael Edwards

Looking back from 2050, it seems strange to think that personal change and politics were once seen as separate worlds. Who knows exactly when the tipping point occurred, but around 2025, and spurred on by spiraling inequalities, rising corporate influence, civil society action and the imperatives of climate change, large numbers of people began to place solidarity at the heart of their decision-making instead of competition, and to see democracy as a way to use and share power in liberating ways. One hundred years after the birth of the Civil Rights movement in the USA, Martin Luther King’s “beloved community” finally started to shape itself in deep democracy’s embrace.

What can the ‘Big Society’ learn from history?

Governments can do little to build civil society directly but much more to strengthen the conditions in which civil society can build itself.

Don’t sell out British aid to business

This week, the government will unveil its review of Britain’s international development budget. The Coalition’s vision for the future of British aid lies in partnerships with business. But to privatize the fulfillment of our international responsibilities would be dangerous, misguided and a waste of public money.

'Know-How', 'Know-What' and the politics of knowledge for social change

In an age when wealth and power present a more diffuse and benign face to the world, the soft authority of knowledge is ever more important as a force for social change. The politics of knowledge – how ideas are created, used and disseminated – represents a key issue for the social change community

Could more women transform politics?

It's radical equality that matters to the transformation of politics, not diversity as such - we continue our debate between men about achieving gender parity.

Will the poor always be with us?

Well, that’s it for the Manchester conference and this is the last blog I’m going to write. The last soggy vegetables have been cleared away from the tables, and I’m not referring to the academics who took part. British institutional food is a wonder to behold and a nightmare to digest, as a leading Indian poverty researcher complained to me over lunch earlier today: “rice - this is rice?” Or it could have been the carrot cake, or even mashed potato... Read on

Reducing Global Poverty - Back to the Future?

When I was a PhD student in the late 1970s I was taught that there was no one route to poverty-reduction, but that since some countries had already reduced poverty pretty well we should learn from their experience. Not exactly rocket science is it? Read on...

Policies or politics for the poorest?

It’s day two of the Manchester conference, and yes, it is still gray and rainy, the natural camouflage of this city that it wears to disguise its charms. The focus has turned to how poverty can be reduced, especially what the academics call “chronic” poverty which affects at least half-a-billion of the world’s poorest people on an “enduring and persistent basis.” Read on...

Is world poverty declining and if so why?

Is world poverty declining and if so why? It’s a deceptively simple question with no straightforward answers, as keynote presenters Joe Stiglitz and David Hulme confirmed at this morning’s opening session (well, it is an academic conference so what did you expect?) Read on...

Ten Years of War Against Poverty: What Have We Learned?

Michael Edwards says welcome to Manchester

Ten years of war against poverty - what have we learned? That’s the question that brings 500-or-so scholars and activists to Manchester this week to debate the causes of, and remedies for, global poverty, and I’ll be blogging from the conference on openDemocracy for the next three days. Coming just a fortnight before the UN General Assembly meets for its own review of the Millennium Development Goals, the Manchester conference provides a less official, and hopefully more self-critical, opportunity to discuss what has gone well and not-so-well in the first decade of concerted efforts to eradicate extreme poverty worldwide.

Read on
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