Social Barometer or Spectrum of Allies

Chile 5Spectrum of Allies or Social Barometer is an excellent tool to do situation analysis, planning, and evaluation.  The Social Barometer can be found in the book on community organizing, In the Tiger’s Mouth.  To download the facilitation instructions for Spectrum of Allies from Training for Change, click here.

The tool is a half circle fan with the following categories of people related to your particular issue or cause:  Leading Activists, Active Allies, Passive Allies, Neutrals, Passive Opponents, Active Opponents, and Leading Opponents.  The key to using the tool is to develop strategies to move people just one slot over on the spectrum.  You will never get everybody where you are on the issue, so don’t waste energy trying to do that.  Rather spend your thoughts, actions, and energy in trying to move people one slot closer to you.  Work to recruit some of the Active Allies to become leaders.  Work to mobilize some of the Passive Allies to become Active.  Convince some of the Neutrals about your issue, and even if they are Passive they have shifted their social pressure your direction.  If you can raise questions with the Passive Opponents so they become Neutral, that helps your cause.  If you can get Active Opponents to become Passive, that can be a key breakthrough.

Identify the issue to work on.  Then identify all the different individuals or groups that are connected with the issue in some way.  Then based on where those individuals or groups are on the spectrum begin to develop specifically-focused strategies to move them one slot closer.  Or if you are evaluating actions or proposed actions think about how people on various parts of the spectrum will respond to those actions.