Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


39th Annual Convention; Minneapolis, MN; 2013

Event Details

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Invited Tutorial #180
CE Offered: BACB
Behavioral Systems Science for Activism and Advocacy
Sunday, May 26, 2013
2:00 PM–2:50 PM
Auditorium Room 2 (Convention Center)
Area: CSE/OBM; Domain: Theory
BACB CE Offered. CE Instructor: Ramona Houmanfar, Ph.D.
Chair: Ramona Houmanfar (University of Nevada, Reno)
Presenting Authors: : MARK A. MATTAINI (Jane Addams College of Social Work-University of Illinois at Chicago)

Informed activism and advocacy supporting human rights, sustainability, and democracy is a crucial contemporary need with high visibility, whether in the Middle East, where the question of armed or nonviolent civil resistance is paramount; in phenomena like the Occupy movement challenging failed economic systems, where questions regarding "diversity of tactics" has been an obstacle to collective action; or in stalled efforts to achieve sustainable cultures. For example, last year at the ABAI convention, Erica Chenoweth reported on her research demonstrating that nonviolent civil resistance is twice as effective as armed alternatives for challenging dictatorship or repression, and in most cases produces much more promising long-term outcomes. Yet the armed option continues to be chosen, in part because the resources dedicated to the development and dissemination of rigorous science supporting nonviolent alternatives have been vanishingly small. Even less attention has been given to the strategic exercise of power addressing issues of sustainability or structural injustice. The moment now appears to be right, however, for behavioral systems science to contribute to the development of effective activism and science-based advocacy in all of these areas. This tutorial will briefly review the current state of knowledge regarding nonviolent activism, advocacy, and civil resistance, drawing on examples of more and less successful campaigns from every inhabited continent. Drawing particularly on current work in cultural analysis and organizational behavior management,the presenterwill then provide detailed explorations of behavioral systems science principles that have promise for supporting strategic civil resistance and leveraging "people power." The tutorial will offer practical analytic approaches for exploring behavioral systems dynamics that obstruct cultural change, and those that might support it. Examples for analysis will be drawn from current work being done by the presenter and others involved in activism and advocacy. Particular but not exclusive attention will be paid to "constructional" (Goldiamond's term) alternatives. While acknowledging the limits of current knowledge and the ethical challenges involved in working as a scientist-activist, the presentation will offer resources for immediate application, suggesting directions for the next generation of behavioral systems science advancing sustainability, human rights, and structural justice.

MARK A. MATTAINI (Jane Addams College of Social Work-University of Illinois at Chicago)
Mark Mattaini, DSW, is an associate professor in the Jane Addams College of Social Work, University of Illinois at Chicago, where he has led the development of the new Community Health and Urban Development concentration. Editor of the journal Behavior and Social Issues, Dr. Mattaini is also the author/editor of 10 books, including PEACE POWER for Adolescents: Strategies for a Culture of Nonviolence (NASW Press), and Finding Solutions to Social Problems: Behavioral Strategies for Change (American Psychological Association, with Bruce Thyer), and more than 90 other publications. Since the mid-90s, Dr. Mattaini has focused his research and practice on behavioral systems analysis for violence prevention with youth, constructing cultures of respect in organizations and communities, and effective nonviolent social action. He is the principal developer of the behavior analytic PEACE POWER strategy, which has been presented and implemented in at least 12 states, two Canadian provinces, and was recently introduced in a UNESCO-funded project in Brazil. He has provided consultation to the National Police and community organizations working to develop more effective ways to work with criminal youth gangs in Medellin, Colombia. This year, Dr. Mattaini completed a new book, Strategic Nonviolent Power: The Science of Satyagraha, published by Athabasca University Press and available in open access online, analyzing potential contributions of behavioral systems science to nonviolent social action and civil resistance supporting justice and human rights domestically and internationally. He is currently working with the American Friends Service Committee on related projects.



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