The Democracy Owner’s Manual – A Practical Guide to Changing the World

by Jim Shultz

The Democracy Owners’ Manual is a unique, hands-on guide for people who want to change public policy at the local, state, national or international level. Based on more than a decade of teaching advocacy to social justice advocates all over the world, the book is a combination of policy and advocacy basics, illustrated with dozens of real-life examples of advocacy in action.

256 pages, 21 b&w illustrations.




“Jim Shultz’s manual shows how you can practice democracy and participate in power while enjoying the experiences with your fellow activists.”  – Ralph Nader

“Jim Shultz’s book is a wonderful first step for anyone who wants to be effective at protecting the environment, or fighting for economic and social justice.” – Carl Pope, Executive Director, Sierra Club

“For parents and others who want to make a difference . . . The Democracy Owner’s Manual lights the way.” – Carol Ruley, former vice president, National PTA.

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  • Part One: Five Key Debates That Democracies Decide
    1. What Is Government’s Job?
    2. The Rules of Politics
    3. Taxes and Budgets: Following the Money
    4. Making Public Rules for Business and the Marketplace
    5. Civil Rights and Criminal Wrongs: Society’s Rules for Individuals
  • Part Two: Tools For Democracy’s Activists
    • Developing a Strategy: Advocacy’s Roadmap
    • Research and Analysis: Advocacy by Fact, not Fiction
    • Organizing: Bringing People Together to Make Social Change
    • Building and Maintaining Advocacy Coalitions
    • Messages and Media: Democracy’s Megaphones
    • Lobbying: The Art of Influencing Public Officials
    • Initiatives: The Power of the Ballot


Training Handouts and Newsletter Inserts for Advocacy Groups

To help groups with their advocacy work, The Democracy Center has prepared a set of free handout materials, based on The Democracy Owners’ Manual, ideal for use with training workshops or as newsletter inserts. Click to view and copy those of interest. Our only request is that groups using this material should credit the Democracy Center and provide a link or reference to our website at

University Teaching Modules Using The Democracy Owners Manual

The Democracy Owners’ Manual was written with students in mind. The author, Jim Shultz, has taught political science, policy analysis, and public administration to both undergraduates and graduate students at San Francisco State University and the book draws from the curricula used in those courses. To aid university instructors in teaching policy and advocacy The Democracy Center has created a set of teaching modules using The Democracy Owners’ Manual – from the basic to the more advanced – which can be incorporated into university courses dealing with political science, public health, social work, environmental studies, urban studies and many other areas. View the modules.

About the Author

Jim Shultz  is the founder and Executive Director of the Democracy Center. A graduate of UC Berkeley and Harvard University, Jim has trained and counseled thousands of citizen activists across five continents and has led a series of winning citizen action campaigns in the U.S. and globally. Jim is the author and editor of three major books, including most recently Dignity and Defiance, Stories from Bolivia’s Challenge to Globalization (UC Press, 2009).  His writings on democracy and social justice issues have been published in books, magazines and newspapers across the US, Canada and the UK.


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