How to be an activist

Activism is everywhere. You’ve seen it on the news, on social media and probably in person in some form, too. Perhaps it’s made you want to get involved yourself, or maybe you’re curious about what activism actually is.

We’re going to explore what it means to be an activist and how you can get started.

What is activism?

An activist is someone who campaigns for change and highlights perceived injustices, advocating for usually political or social issues. Think Greta Thunberg advocating for the climate crisis, and Black Lives Matter.

Activism isn't confined to grand gestures or headline-grabbing protests. At its core, activism is about striving for change—be it within your community, society at large, or globally. It's about identifying issues that matter to you deeply and taking action to address them. Whether it's advocating for environmental sustainability, social justice, or human rights, activism comes in myriad forms, from grassroots movements to online campaigns.

What are you fighting for?

The first step in becoming an activist is discovering what drives you. What issues keep you up at night? Take the time to explore different causes, read, listen and engage with communities. One of the most important parts of activism is being educated on the subject you are campaigning for.

If you are reading this, there is probably already something that you are passionate about that you want to campaign for. Take this enthusiasm and channel it into your chosen form of activism. 


Effective activism often requires collaboration across diverse groups and communities. Learn to listen actively, empathise with others' experiences, and recognise your privilege. Building bridges, fostering dialogue, and finding common ground are essential skills in the activist's toolkit. 

Activism can be a challenging road. You'll encounter resistance, scepticism, and moments of doubt. But resilience is the cornerstone of effective activism. Surround yourself with a supportive community that share the same values and are fighting for the same causes as you.

Sociology and activism

Sociology offers a unique lens through which we view the world. It delves into the structures, systems and dynamics that shape society, unveiling patterns of inequality, power dynamics and social change. Studying sociology helps you gain invaluable insights into the root causes of social issues, equipping you with the knowledge to address them effectively. 

At BCU, we offer a BA (Hons) in Sociology that covers a broad array of issues related to historical and contemporary power relations. Politics, policy and activism are key strands of our degree programme, alongside other areas including cultural sociology, identity, gender and race.

We also have a range of societies within our Students’ Union that get involved in campaigns and activism, including the Sociology Society.

Sociology Courses

Find out more about our courses

How to get involved

Activism isn’t all about protests and rallies. If you want to start small and from the comfort of your own home, you can try online activism. Write a blog or take to social media to join in conversations around certain issues, or even start an online petition. You can also try writing a letter to your local MP if the issue is relevant. 

You can find out who your local MP is here, and there’s also further guidance on how to write to them.

Want to take it to the next step? Join a student-led organisation, volunteer with a local charity, or attend rallies and protests—whatever aligns with your cause. 

What should you do next?

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We offer an extensive selection of more than 100 courses, spanning a wide range of subjects for you to explore.

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