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Advocate v. Activist... What's the Difference?

If you're passionate about social justice issues and want to create change, you might be wondering whether you're more of an advocate or an activist. While these two terms are often used interchangeably, they actually represent distinct approaches to creating change. In this blog post, we'll explore some key factors that can help you determine whether you're more of an advocate or an activist.

  1. Your approach to change

One of the key differences between advocates and activists is their approach to creating change. Advocates tend to work within existing systems and structures to effect change, often through collaboration with government, non-governmental organizations, or other stakeholders. They focus on raising awareness, providing education, and lobbying decision-makers to take action on a particular issue. Activists, on the other hand, are more likely to challenge established power structures and may engage in civil disobedience or other forms of protest to draw attention to a particular issue. They may also work within existing systems, but they are more likely to be critical of those systems and to push for fundamental changes to how power is distributed and exercised.

  • Your level of personal commitment

Another key factor that can help you determine whether you're more of an advocate or an activist is your level of personal commitment. Advocates may work on a particular issue as part of their job or as volunteers, but they are less likely to put their personal safety or freedom on the line. Activists, on the other hand, may face arrest, violence, or other forms of retaliation for their actions. If you're willing to take personal risks to create change, you may be more of an activist.

  • Your relationship to established power structures

Advocates and activists also differ in their relationship to established power structures. Advocates may work within those structures to effect change, while activists are more likely to challenge them. If you're more comfortable working within existing power structures and using established channels to effect change, you may be more of an advocate. If, on the other hand, you're more inclined to challenge those structures and push for fundamental changes to the way power is distributed and exercised, you may be more of an activist.

  • Your view of the role of social movements

Finally, your view of the role of social movements can also help you determine whether you're more of an advocate or an activist. Advocates may see social movements as a means to an end, a way to create pressure on decision-makers to take action on a particular issue. Activists, on the other hand, may see social movements as a fundamental part of the struggle for social justice, a way to build power and challenge established power structures. If you view social movements as a crucial part of creating change, you may be more of an activist.


In conclusion, determining whether you're more of an advocate or an activist depends on a number of factors, including your approach to change, your level of personal commitment, your relationship to established power structures, and your view of the role of social movements. While there are differences between these two approaches, both advocates and activists play important roles in creating social change.


Ultimately, the most important thing is to find the approach that feels most authentic and effective for you.


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