change agents

a lot of this is from smartmeme‘s Re:imagining change, some of it verbatim, most of it notes.

‘the way things are’ – dominant culture narrative – they have power, we don’t, and there’s nothing we can do to change it.

the consent theory of power, when the governed withdraw their consent and the government falls from lack of support.

it all boils down to a struggle between collaborative and coercive power – power with versus power over.

hegemony – the values of the elite become ‘common sense’, limiting the terms of debate to make challenge impossible.

control mythologies shape political reality, normalize the status quo, and obscure options / visions.

power shapes the point of view of the story – winners write history.

underlying assumptions filter facts – confirmation bias.

potentially troubling information activates neuron network that produces stress, and the brain looks for ways to turn it off.  filters are rooted in dominant culture’s control myth.

ad revenue (designer stories) $500 bn in 2011.

mass psychology defines popular culture values:  individualism and consumerism.

branding burns in inseparable recognition.

control meme – a designer myth containing control myths, inserting power-holder perspective into cultural narratives.  spreads specific framing of an idea that reinforces status quo.

columbus discovered / invaded america.

control meme – narrative power that thwarts social change ideas, justifying oppression.

truth and power belong to those who tell the better story – stephen duncombe.

how does the framing of a story create conflict?

characters embody the message.  the dynamics of who gets to speak are keys to the battle of the story.

communicate by connecting to what people already know – values.  make them use own values to decide.

how does story suggest / promise a specific future?

assumptions – unstated parts you have to believe for the story to work; can be shared values, distorted info, control myths.

the story of the battle is about mobilization
the battle of the story is about persuasion.

mostly mobilizations is among people who already agree, so the story shares assumptions.  partisan.

since an audience’s existing stories filter new information, you need to give them a new story.  battle of story tells the why of the movement.

the frame defines a story by setting the terms for how to understand it.

who is impacted – victims, heroes, villains?

power-holders sometimes frame their story by casting the people hurt by their actions as the characters in the story.  the real people are sympathetic characters, and to protect them they propose whatever.  guarding against forest fires by clear cutting.

then the fight becomes whose ‘real person’ is real and whose is an actor dressed as a farmer.

foreshadowing a new future is essential for taking on a favorite control myth, like there is no alternative, the only realistic option is ours.

targeting a brand uses the corporations’ budgets against them – aikido – hijacking familiar imagery.

you need to deconstruct the current story using the battle of the story before constructing a new one.

center of meme campaign is narrative, and the contagious self-replicating meme capsules that spread the story.

at its core an effective meme campaign requires strong grass roots organizing, and a flexible network-based structure to flourish.

using street theater to illustrate exposing meme.

the battle of the story challenges assumptions and frames issues differently.

the story of the battle relies on empirical examples that get distorted and dismantled as exceptions rather than rules.

telling the story of the battle fails to frame issue to challenge the spectator role of the general public.  protesters vs police is seen as someone else’s fight.

[most people don’t really think of themselves as the 99%  or the 1%]

this part is from the documentary zeitgeist moving forward

in a decaying society, art, if it is truthful, must also reflect decay.  and unless it wants to break faith with its social function, art must show the world as changeable, and help to change it – ernst fischer.

man in middle – us (me) [observer].  in the middle of unthinking daily life.  when breakthru of truth (they live) shatters daily life for a moment, the man in the middle comes back in shock to pick up and go on, but it’s all surreal now.

continuing with re:imagining change.

intervention is the deliberate interference or interaction with a previously existing narrative, audience, social structure, system, venue or space.

points of intervention are specific places in a system where an action can effectively interrupt and influence the story of a system and build momentum for change.

points of intervention are traditionally physical points in the systems that shape our lives.  points of production, destruction, consumption, decision (power-holders HQ).

direct action is any action where people step out of their traditional scripted roles ad challenge the dominant expectation of obedience [artists].  when it is effective, direct action shifts power relationships in the moment it is happening and builds lasting movement by leaving an imprint of new possibilities in our imaginations.  creating fundamental change at the deepest levels of power relationships.

actions at a point of assumption in the narrative are like physical action at points of intervention.  in this case you’re challenging and shifting underlying assumptions.

point of decision actions reframe issues by unmasking hidden interests and challenge assumptions about who is to blame for a problem.

story-based strategy is an exploration of how social movements can operate in the realm of narrative to create a shared story for interpreting political issues that inform the understanding of a critical mass of society.

the idea is to identify and target underlying assumptions that sustain the status quo.  aiming to pass thru the filters of the audience and change their story.

assumptions are what you have to believe to buy the story.  when exposed and found to be contradictory to real life and the values of audience, they’re vulnerable.

one place to find points of assumption is at the place where endings become contestable, where effective action can forecast a different future.

intervention at the point of assumption can reclaim public space for the discussion of a problem untethered from the confines of the power-holder’s framing.

repurposing pop culture narratives.  popular culture can provide unique opportunities for social change messages to hitch a ride on specific memes, metaphors and cultural narratives. [star wars, lord of the rings]

[what movies, what superheroes will i use?]

action logic, where people can plainly see what’s going on without having to share values.

metaverbs, summarize action logic in one word, and are seen as the benchmark of an action’s success.  clear logic, anchored in broader narrative about intentions, demands, worldview.

pop culture offers detailed cultural codes that help popularize messages that would otherwise get filtered.  trouble is not everyone knows the code, and it changes quickly due to fashion.

the strategy should be not only to confront an empire, but to lay siege to it…with our art, our music, our literature…and our ability to tell our own stories.  stories that are different from the ones we’ve been brainwashed to believe – arundhati roy.

save the whales.  traditional image of heroic whalers and moby dick.  greenpeace showed activists as heros defending helpless whales from giant whaling factories.

[reversal.  saying the same thing about each other.  the one thing that links the right and the left right now is what they’re saying about each other.  each is trying desperately to save the country from the evil clutches of the other side, who are bent on destroying america.]

if you don’t want to be cast as victims of x, use a large powerful hero mascot to run the bad x guys off.

denial is the assumption that US can go green on its current path rather than fundamentally change our system to operate within ecological limits.

denial is one of the key psychological undercurrents in the dominant culture that is preventing widespread acknowledgement of the scope of the crisis.  this denial is also present on the other side – the attitude that if we just keep fighting we’ll eventually win.

seismic events trigger mass psychic breaks where the status quo stories don’t hold and new perspectives congeal – like after 9/11.  the narrative landscape shifts rapidly and unexpectedly as the terms of the debate are redefined.  these moments are often hijacked by power-holders who use fear to manipulate trauma and re-entrench old power dynamics.

this bit here from zeitgeist.

why should someone feel unhappy or engage in antisocial behavior when that person is living in the freest and most prosperous nation on earth?  it can’t be the system.

addiction – any behavior associated with craving, temporary relief, with long term negative consequences, along with impairment of control over it.  the greater the harm, the more respectable the addiction.

back to re:imagining change

as the control myths unravel, our movements can offer new narratives and foreshadow just futures, but we must be ready to wage the battle of the story in the midst of upheaval, fracture, and rapid change.

our movements need to nurture a culture of strategic innovation.

leaders are forging new alliances that build unity among different issues, constituencies and movements without creating structures that deny our differences or compromise our diversity.

the transformational stories of 21st century change will celebrate the heroes at the margins, inspire us to face the true scale of our problems, and herald visions of a world remade.  they will accommodate complexity, embrace diversity and foreshadow the challenges and triumphs we all will face.

[even when you expose them as psychopaths (bush and saud) their supporters ignore the facts and revere their heroes all the more.]

this is from matt bai’s 2005 nytimes article the framing wars.

in order to reach voters all the individual issues of political debate must tie into a larger frame that feels familiar to us.  voters respond to grand metaphors – (conservatives as strict fathers, liberals as indulgent moms).  republicans are skilled at using loaded language and constant repetition to play into the frame in our unconscious minds.  democrats are wrong to assume we are rational actors who act on facts.  cognitive science proves we are programmed to respond to deeply imbedded unconscious frames, and if facts don’t fit the frames, our minds reject them.

republicans stand for (8 words), lower taxes, less government, strong defense, family values.  democrats can’t sum it up that simply.


About jeanne

artist, grandma, alien

Posted on November 28, 2011, in occupy, research. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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