The case for hard: why social transformation demands lots of social friction

Amy Schiller
Hovering above the restrictions of place and culture, detached from democracy, and technocratic to its core, a new discourse favours a frictionless approach to solving social problems.

They burn clean and leave only ashes: transforming San Quentin

Janis Daddona

Irreverent DanceIn one of the world’s most infamous institutions, rage and pain are channeled into personal empowerment and the reform of the prison-industrial complex.

6 amazing photos that show Palestinian hopes for the end of occupation

Active Stills

Imagine waking up to see the bodies of your teenage children on your TV screen. Following the kidnapping and murders of three Israeli teenagers and the killing of more than six Palestinians, last night violent clashes took place across the West Bank and Gaza. Series: Palestine.

Israel's wall: 10 years justice denied

"Operation Protective Edge" is under way, with air strikes in Gaza, 22 Palestinians killed and rockets fired at Israel. 10 years ago the International Court of Justice declared the Israeli separation wall illegal under international law. Has anything changed?

What do you think of Transformation?

Transformation, openDemocracy’s newest section, turns one year old today. We want your help in evaluating our progress.

The case for hard: why social transformation demands lots of social friction

Hovering above the restrictions of place and culture, detached from democracy, and technocratic to its core, a new discourse favours a frictionless approach to solving social problems.

American politics: beyond angels and demons

In celebration of July 4, Independence Day in the United States, Transformation asks what lies in store for democracy in America? 

They burn clean and leave only ashes: transforming San Quentin

In one of the world’s most infamous institutions, rage and pain are channeled into personal empowerment and the reform of the prison-industrial complex. 

6 amazing photos that show Palestinian hopes for the end of occupation

Imagine waking up to see the bodies of your teenage children on your TV screen. Following the kidnapping and murders of three Israeli teenagers and the killing of more than six Palestinians, last night violent clashes took place across the West Bank and Gaza. Series: Palestine. 

If this is what it feels like to be a woman, what does it mean to be a man?

Sexual violence is closely linked to women’s status in society, but changing the definition of masculinity is just as important to long-term safety, security and equality.

This is what life is like for an asylum seeker

Survival on £35 a week, the everyday boredom of waiting for a trial, and how the system needs to be humanised: a UK asylum seeker speaks out.

Should we fight the system or be the change?

Short-term campaigns versus building the beloved community: what are the real costs and benefits of pre-figurative politics?

I am sorry for you, you mean well: trust and history in the making of a better world

Why do foreign aid and advice so often fail? A transformative social vision means nothing without humility.

It’s time to put the power of sharing back into the sharing economy

A vibrant debate is questioning the meaning of sharing in relation to the big questions of our time. 

Song under fire

From battle softened veterans to adrenaline junkies, a new song theatre production celebrates the work of war correspondents worldwide.

No surrender: responding to the new breed of climate change in-activists

Waiting for death in the planetary hospice is not a convincing response to climate change: a response to Carolyn Baker.

Welcome to the planetary hospice

Surrendering to the implications of climate change is an act of courage not cowardice. This is the first article in a new debate on Transformation. Shannon Biggs responds here.

Why is the New Economy movement so white?

In the wake of a major conference on the New Economy in the USA, questions are being raised about the membership and leadership of the movement it represents. For the New Economy movement to succeed, it must be led by those for whom the mainstream economy has never worked. 

Economic growth: getting beyond fairytale policy

Against the myth of trickle down economics.

Safe white hands: Hollywood's problem with minorities in film

White men make films about the emancipatory struggles of everybody else. The final article in Transformation's liberation series.

Job opportunity: paid intern, Transformation

Transformation seeks a social media intern. We will pay you, you won't have to make tea.

What's liberation got to do with it?

Veteran activist Urvashi Vaid on being a utopian in the 1970s, and how gay rights prevailed over liberation politics. Part of Transformation's liberation series.

I'm a woman, but I'm glad I used to be a man

I was the kind of trans* person who, upon coming out, sought to destroy all references to my male social and legal identity in the most ruthless manner. Part of Transformation's liberation series.

What if the LGBTQ movement fought for prison abolition instead of same sex marriage?

"There are lots of poor people who have been convinced that this is the way forward by a bunch of upper class gays that have rammed it down everybody’s throats." Part of Transformation's liberation series.

Graphic novel: The United States vs Pvt Chelsea Manning

Clark Stoeckley's graphic account from inside the Chelsea Manning trial is released today, marking its first anniversary. We exclusively excerpt Chelsea Manning's testimony on her treatment in prison. Content warning: state violence, discussion of suicide. 

Stephen Sutton and the politics of the deathbed smile

In the political economy of modern dying, Stephen's Sutton's death from cancer - wrapped up in cheery charity fundraising - made headlines, while the worst ever Turkish mining disaster went under the radar. Part of Transformation's liberation series.

When is civil society a force for social transformation?

There are more civil society organizations in the world today than at any other time in history, so why isn't their impact growing? 

The good thing about having a disability

Accepting I was disabled was the first step in becoming a force for change for others, as a feminist, trade unionist and equality campaigner. Part of Transformation's liberation series

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