The word activist means "a person who campaigns to bring about political or social change.".

I'm looking for a similar word but one that is less intense. By that mean, a word that refers to someone that is not really an activist, as the word commonly refers to, but nevertheless consistently exhibits political expressions that indicates their subtle desire (if not active acts of activism) to effect social change.

This could be a person on Twitter tweeting about whatever ideology without (necessarily) being directly involved in any organization acts.

There is "SJW" (social justice warrior), but the word I'm looking for is not tied to any particular ideology. It could refer anyone from a keyboard warrior SJW to an anti-feminist person; anyone invested in some sort of 'social change' at all, not matter how 'right' and 'sensible' they are.

Example sentence:

  • Unlike you, John does not pay lip service to the social protocols. He is a ____, who must constantly express his opinions over how society ought to be. You are a realist, and go along with social protocols; he on the other hand has taken a stance and desires a need to change those protocols.
  • What's your feeling on connotation? For instance, my understanding is that slacktivist often involves activism primarily through the internet, but it has a negative connotation as someone who doesn't act on what they express. Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 19:15
  • 1
    The person I'm describing may or may not act. The main criteria is that their stance is more subtle; and doesn't have to be as intense as the real social activists (those going to Africa, etc.). I think a potential candidate would be 'partisan'. The word has to be neutral. Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 19:17
  • John could be called outspoken, an iconoclast, a blabbermouth, or an armchair progressive. Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 19:30
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    politically active/politically engaged/politically involved
    – samgak
    Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 19:39
  • @YosefBaskin Or simply that he has "political/progressive views". I would actually reword the sentence to read "He holds political views that he feels the need to express, concerning how society ought to be"
    – WS2
    Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 19:41

4 Answers 4


Devotee, disciple, adherent, follower and practitioner come to mind as I look into words like partisan. These seem to largely espouse the belief without necessarily evangelizing it to some degree.

In the event it helps you with ideas, I'll add that sympathizer was an earlier word I considered. It, too, tended to be more active in its connotations.


If you are not an all-out activist, you might be a simple advocate:

2 : one who defends or maintains a cause or proposal
// an advocate of liberal arts education
3 : one who supports or promotes the interests of a cause or group
// a consumer advocate
// an advocate for women's health

An advocate can be someone who simply expresses a positive opinion about something, not necessarily someone who rallies for it.


Supporter would be the best word for what you are looking for. While an activist directly seeks change, a supporter simply desires at and may make some action towards it but not as much as an activist.

"A person who approves of and encourages someone or something (typically a public figure, a movement or party, or a policy)." https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/supporter


The word activist. was not always as loaded with overtones of potential extremism as it has been becoming of late.

Cambridge English gives the following definition:-

a person who believes strongly in political or social change and takes part in activities such as public protests to try and make such things happen.

I have read the word in recent news columns also used of people who belong to political parties and engage in less confrontational activities, such as leafleting, electoral canvassing, and so forth.

But there is not doubt that the word has acquired the overtones you suggest over the years. In Britain we have seen theoretically radical but peaceful groups like ‘animal rights’ taken over by extremist ‘activists’ and twice now the Labour party has come under the influence first of ‘Militant’ then, recently, ‘Momentum’. So these ‘activists’ (and even the endings -ist and -ism) gave the word its more aggressive aura.

I do not think the word you are looking for exists. A phrase might work.

politically (or socially) active politically (or socially) engaged

Phrases like this might do.

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