Charley Tilley has studied social movements overall and activism specifically as a set of “contentious performances”, in which organizers choose from a “repertoire” on the basis of who they want to influence and what opportunities exist for doing so.
Repertoires which are familiar can easily become stale and ineffective, as Micah White discusses in the context of big marches, and as was also widely discussed in the context of various cities sharing strategies to effectively shut down Occupy encampments. The fairly clear failure of the huge People’s Climate March and Toronto’s March for Jobs, Justice, and the Climate makes it frustrating that a group of Toronto activist organizations are preparing another march on the same model (with the same name!). Given the urgency of climate change, we can’t dedicate our energy to repeating failed tactics.
If actions like marches have become routine, and lost their ability to produce broad media coverage or political action, we should expect climate change activists to begin engaging in more contentious forms of activism like barricades. One risk – of course – is that with a complacent population that broadly tolerates the status quo such actions will reinforce rather than undermine support for the existing political and economic order.