A different kind of activism

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Corpus Corpus 1 A different kind of activism

Séries technologiques • LV1


Formes de pouvoir


France métropolitaine • Septembre 2014

Séries technologiques • LV1

  Text 1  Avaaz, online mobilisation
Ricken Patel: the global leader of online protest

Last week, a 36-year-old man named Ricken Patel gave the Commonwealth Lecture1 at the Guildhall in London. It was entitled The opportunity of our time and promised a “new politics, a new activism, a new democracy”.

He is not a politician, however, or some multimillionaire megalomaniac, but the founder and president of Avaaz, an online activist group that aims to “close the gap between the world we have and the world most people everywhere want”.

If that mission statement sounds a little fluffy and problem­atically vague, it’s proved remarkably successful around the world. There are now 20 million members of Avaaz, which means “voice” in several languages, making it the world’s largest activist network.

Since its creation in 2007, Avaaz has been involved in a series of campaigns as diverse as climate change, the Syrian uprising and challenging Rupert Murdoch2. The organisation specialises in sending out email petitions to its members as a means of galvanising public opinion.

Avaaz’s model is online mobilisation, which has been dismissed in some quarters as “clicktivism”, whereby hundreds of thousands or even millions of people need do no more than tap a mouse to ­register their protest. The suggestion is that the technological ease creates a remote, disengaged form of activism in which consequences and outcomes appear less real.

Patel has a stock response to this criticism. “To reduce our actions down to clicking is silly”, he has said. “It’s what happens after the clicks − how we use that support − that’s what brings about incredible change.”

Now the organisation works in 15 languages, has its headquarters in Manhattan, is most popular in Brazil, France, Germany and India, and is entirely financed through its members. Corporations are not allowed to contribute and no individual can donate more than €5,000. “I think we have the highest integrity funding in the world”, says Patel.

Adapted from www.theguardian.com/profile/andrewanthony, Sunday 17 March 2013.

1. A lecture: a speech.

2. Rupert Murdoch: powerful media owner.

  Text 2  The Greenpeace protesters
Shake your booty in Big Ben’s shadow − teenagers dance to save the planet

Politicians could learn a lot from the UK Youth Climate Coalition.

The opening piano chords of I Believe suddenly blare out in Parliament Square. A young girl steps forward on the green and stretches gracefully to the sky before being joined in her dance by another and then another, until 150 dancers are enthusiastically shaking their booty in the shadow of Big Ben.

The Greenpeace protesters, still up on the roof of the houses of Parliament, are nudging each other and pointing, with the same baffled-but-intrigued expression as everyone else. Tourists, police officers, bus drivers are all craning their necks and the phone cameras are up in the air everywhere you look. This dance-off was the finale of the UK Youth Climate Coalition’s Powershift weekend.

Four hundred members of the UKYCC (an umbrella organisation for youth climate groups) had spent the last two days bonding and learning how to deliver their message from Marshall Ganz, the man who shaped Barack Obama’s successful campaign for US president. They had planned small demonstrations and actions all around the country and sent messages to the other branches of the YCC around the world in Australia, Thailand, Cambodia. And now they were ready to unleash themselves on the rest of us. And, happily, that’s just how it worked out. Their original, planned, performance underneath the London Eye went perfectly. After that nothing seemed more natural than hopping across the Thames to show the Greenpeace protesters a bit of solidarity. A bit of rearrangement and off they go for a spontaneous reprise, to be received with cheers and waves from the guys up on the roof, and everyone else around. Even the doughtiest environmental campaigners, used to D-locks1 rather than breakdancing, admitted that it is all very cheering.

The lovely thing about teenagers and 20-years-olds is that they don’t really see why it can’t just all be sorted out. All the grey areas, the targets, the special interests, the political concerns and long-termism in which politicians get so mired, are irrelevant to them.

And for a lovely, sunny moment in Parliament Square, with several hundred young people smiling and dancing and cheering, and a yellow banner fluttering from the roof of Parliament, it seems entirely possible that it might really be that simple.

Adapted from www.theguardian.com/environment, 12 October 2009.

1. D-locks: motorcycles locks used by protesters to chain themselves to gates or others (see picture).


ph © Getty Images/Dorling Kindersley


Text 1

1 Choose the appropriate answer.

Avaaz is:

1. a virtual community which defends ideas.

2. a political party which launches campaigns.

3. a group of scientists who study climate change.

4. an online travel agency.

2 True or false Justify by quoting the text.

1. Ricken Patel is the leader of a political party.

2. Avaaz exists in only one country.

3. Avaaz has many followers.

4. “Clicktivism” means signing protest letters online.

5. The world “clikctivism” has a negative connotation.

6. Avaaz is financially independent.

Text 2

3 Choose the appropriate answer. Justify by quoting the text.

1. UKYCC wants to:

a) protect the environment.

b) organise violent actions.

c) support Obama’s campaign.

2. UKYCC :

a) opposes Greenpeace.

b) supports Greenpeace.

c) ignores Greenpeace.

4 Fill in the gaps with the following words. Use each word only once.

joined / danced / stood / learnt / surprised

1. UKYCC protesters …………………… at the London Eye.

2. Greenpeace activists …………………… on the roof of the Houses of Parliament.

3. UKYCC protesters …………………… Greenpeace activists in Parliament Square.

4. The young protesters …………………… everybody by the originality of their action.

5. UKYCC members …………………… their methods from Marshall Ganz.

Both texts

5 Both texts show that technology plays a role in the way people protest. Justify with one quote for each document.

6 Choose the right words from the following list to fill in the gaps. Some words will not be used.

joyful / virtual / collective / individual / cruel / depressing

In text 1, Avaaz’s first action is …………………… and …………………… whereas in text 2 UKYCC’s method are …………………… and …………………… .

7 Write down the title that corresponds to both texts 1 and 2.

1. Splitting people apart

2. Raising funds for the planet

3. Defending a cause

4. Demonstrating in the street


> Choose one of the following subjects (150 words minimum).

1 You are an activist for one of the following causes:

  • End Poverty
  • Women’s Rights
  • Save the Children

For the homepage of the website of your association, describe your goals and actions and present the next event you plan to organise. You want to convince the readers to join the association.

2 You are R. Smith a student at Jefferson High school and your principal, Mr Miles, has decided to stop giving money to a club to which you belong. Write a letter to explain how useful your club is and persuade school officials to change their decision.

Les clés du sujet

Texte 1


Andrew Anthony écrit pour plusieurs hebdomadaires britanniques notamment The Observer et The Guardian. Les sujets de ses articles varient entre politique, culture, crime et sport. Il est également auteur de plusieurs romans.

Pour en savoir plus : andrewanthony.org/

Résumé du texte

Andrew Young nous invite à la rencontre de « Avaaz », le plus grand réseau de militants au monde. Ils sont spécialistes des pétitions en ligne. Il suffit de cliquer afin de participer aux diverses campagnes proposées par Avaaz. Cette démarche a suscité des critiques de la part de ceux qui rejettent cette forme désengagée d’activisme facile, voire irréfléchi, basé sur un simple clic. Mais le président d’Avaaz les contredit en affirmant : ce n’est pas le clic qui compte mais ce que cela déclenche.

Vocabulaire utile à la compréhension

Founder, l. 6 (fondateur)  activist, l. 6 (militant)  gap, l. 7 (fossé)  fluffy, l. 9 (ici, léger, idéaliste)  uprising, l. 14 (soulèvement)  to dismiss, l. 18 (­rejeter)  the outcomes, l. 23 (les résultats)  a stock response, l. 24 (une réponse toute faite).

Texte 2


Bibi van der Zee est journaliste et militante. Elle écrit pour l’hebdomadaire Britannique The Guardian sur l’environnement. Elle est également l’auteur de The Protestor’s Handbook, une analyse des différents moyens d’action pour changer le monde dans lequel on vit.

Pour en savoir plus : www.bibivanderzee.com

Résumé du texte

Dans cet article, la journaliste nous présente une méthode très douce de manifestation : la danse. Elle explique comment, en été 2009, un groupe de jeunes militants a dansé devant la grande roue de Londres, puis devant Big Ben afin de sensibiliser la population sur l’environnement.

Vocabulaire utile à la compréhension

Blare out, l. 1 (retentir à plein volume)  to shake one’s booty, l. 5 (se déhancher)  to nudge, l. 7 (donner un coup de coude)  baffled, l. 8 (perplexe)  to crane one’s neck, l. 9 (tendre le cou)  an umbrella organisation, l. 12-13 (un regroupement d’organismes)  to bond, l. 13 (former des liens de camaraderie)  to shape, l. 15 (former, influencer)  to unleash oneself, l. 19 (se déchaîner)  to hop across, l. 22 (traverser rapidement)  to cheer, l. 24 (acclamer)  doughty, l. 26 (vaillant)  to sort out, l. 29 (arranger)  to get mired, l. 31 (être empêtré).

Les points de convergence

Les deux textes illustrent différentes formes de manifestation. De nos jours, les militants ne se contentent pas de défiler dans la rue avec des banderoles pour défendre leurs droits, la technologie a également un rôle central dans leurs actions. En effet, on constate dans le premier texte que les militant(e)s attirent l’attention aujourd’hui par le biais d’actions inattendues ou par la danse, comme dans le deuxième.

Le sujet d’expression

Pistes de recherche

Vous prenez la parole en tant que militant : vous devez être convaincu(e) et convaincant(e). Ce document, destiné à la publication en ligne, doit être facile à comprendre et comporter toutes les informations demandées.

Vocabulaire utile

To make people aware (sensibiliser)  a goal (un but)  to volunteer one’s services (se porter volontaire)

Le sujet d’expression

Pistes de recherche

Pensez à la mise en page de votre lettre et au destinataire : le proviseur. Il faut le convaincre de ne pas supprimer cette aide tout en restant respectueux et poli. Choisissez un club qui apporte quelque chose à l’établissement et à son image, qui sert d’argument pour gonfler les effectifs et qui a un effet positif sur le bien-être des élèves.

Vocabulaire utile

To enroll (s’inscrire)  to support (soutenir)  food for thought (matière à réflexion).




Text 1

1 The answer is 1.. Avaaz is a virtual community which defends ideas.

2 1. : “He is not a politician ... but the founder and president of Avaaz” (l. 5-6).

2. : It “is most popular in Brazil, France, Germany and India” (l. 29-30).

3. : “There are now 20 million members” (l. 11).

4. : “people need do no more than tap a mouse to register their protest” (l. 20-21).

5. : “technological ease creates a remote, disengaged form of activism” (l. 21-22).

6. : “is entirely financed through its members” (l. 30).

Text 2

3 1. The answer is a) . UKYCC wants to : we can see this from the full name of the group (l. 11), “UK Youth Climate Coalition”.

2. The answer is b) . UKYCC : “to show the Greenpeace protesters a bit of solidarity” (l. 22-23).

4 1. UKYCC protesters at the London Eye.

2. Greenpeace activists on the roof of the Houses of Parliament.

3. UKYCC protesters Greenpeace activists in Parliament Square.

4. The young protesters everybody by the originality of their action.

5. UKYCC members their methods from Marshall Ganz.

Both texts

5 Text 1: “The organisation specialises in sending out email petitions” (l. 15-16) / “Avaaz’s model is online mobilisation” (l. 18) / “people need do no more than tap a mouse to register their protest” (l. 20-21).

Text 2: “sent messages to the other branches of the YCC around the world” (l. 17-18).

6 In document 1, Avaaz’s first action is and whereas in document 2 UKYCC’s methods are and .

7 The answer is c) . The title that corresponds to both documents is: .


1 Guidelines

Is it right that so many of us throw away uneaten food when others are starving

Is it right that some people have so many clothes that they can wear a new outfit everyday whereas others wear the same dirty, worn-out clothes day after day

Is it right that we throw away toys and electrical items when we get bored of them when others have no more than the clothes on their backs

Here at : bring essential items to those who need them and to make the average person aware than they can make a difference.

If you want to help, . All you have to do is bring any unwanted clothes, shoes or toys or new toiletries or food items to one of the collection points in a town near you. To find the list please click here.

To find out more about how to volunteer your services to redistribute the goods click here.