FORUM2015: How to Use Storytelling To Change Culture
April 21, 2015 | 3208 views
With so much going on at the 2015 Skoll World Forum, it's impossible to participate in everything. Our bloggers are sitting in on many of the exciting sessions at this year's event. Read their concise notes and observations to catch up on important discussions you may have missed.
USING CULTURE TO CHANGE CULTURE
WED, APRIL 15, 2015; 11:45 – 13:00
At this session, more than 40 advocates, filmmakers, philanthropists, technologists, and others from around the world gathered to explore how to more effectively create culture change through storytelling, media, arts, technology, and other tools.
The vibrant discussion led to some key insights along with some critical questions about how we can more powerfully promote the values of dignity, equality and justice. I have captured these below along with some links to additional resources.
The power of storytelling
Several participants highlighted the power of storytelling to drive culture change. Storytelling enables people negatively affected by an issue to process their experiences and heal their way into becoming leaders for change. This in turn can engage multiple constituencies in the journey of transformation and build movements that can shift us beyond advocacy to real culture change.
Storytelling allows the storyteller to be seen and for her voice to matter. It enables the person who is being affected negatively by a social norm to become the driver of change. It’s important to ask who is telling whose story as a critical component of culture change.
In the creation of stories, it’s important to stop “othering” and move beyond binaries in a way that allows everyone to go through a process of transformation. In this context, the role of empathy and compassion are critical because they allows us to step into one another’s shoes and experiences.
There are many powerful ways to tell stories – performing arts, documentary, film, radio, the written word, video games – and we should be open to exploring all of them as pathways to culture change.
Transforming belief systems requires us to move beyond the traditional storytelling triangle of victim, perpetrator, and rescuer because that locks us into disempowering strategies for culture change.
The influence of digital media
The role and influence of digital media in driving culture change was an animated part of the discussion especially because people from Facebook and Participant Media were present.
The digital world allows for atomized storytelling that connects to people’s shorter attention spans. Social media has blurred virtual and physical spaces; our focus should increasingly be on how we connect the two even where Internet access may be limited.
The digital space has begun to transform the nature of identity because it allows us to call people into community with us in momentary and in long-term ways. Access to scale through digital tools also allows us to build communities and constituencies across boundaries that may be transitory but facilitate different avenues for reach and engagement.
Social media allows us to tap into the fundamental human need to help other people and amplifies the ability of people to come together and build peer networks for support.
It’s important to remember that social media can often make complex situations too simplistic and drive unrealistic solutions.
Participants offered some critical insights and questions in order to advance culture change. It’s important to identify and engage underlying cultural and spiritual beliefs and engage with them at the community level to shift and create new norms.
Change that is led from within the community is more effective than that which is parachuted in from the outside. It is critical to recognize the role of peer influence in driving change.
Campaigns by themselves can drive limited systematic change and must be connected to other strategies for long-term sustainable change.
Some additional links that might be helpful to this discussion: