Early Stage #WorkingOutLoud on Social Movements and Change

I feel like i am chasing around an idea at the moment, and the work i am sharing today is not an end point, but perhaps an iteration: it is a chance for me to revise some language and explore the connection between ideas.

In this rather busy illustration i am imposing a three layer structure: ‘Pre-Cursor Webs’, ‘Social Movements’, and ‘Cultural Narratives’, and exploring the definitions and links between them.

The notion of pre-cursor networks is to explore how legacy social structures, and dormant or failed social movements, may still nonetheless persist in certain connections. So whilst they did not achieve their primary goals, the lines are still visible on the ground, or in the connections.

Essentially some of the social capital is carried forward: bonds of trust, belief, validity, and so on.

Some bright points may remain active – and crucially these may cross social boundaries – potentially hence more interconnected by default.

The other two layers i am playing with: i use the term ‘Social Movement’ to describe emergent, socially generated and moderated narratives of change. The term ‘cultural narrative’ describes established and dominant existing conditions. The two come into contact with each other in various ways: cultural narratives may kill social movements, or ride the wave into a new dominant and evolved narrative.

This illustration is probably not ordered correctly, but the intent is to indicate that precursor networks may have an impact upon that dynamic: they may impact how cultural narratives interact with social movements because they carry legacy connections between communities – they allow cross pollination or cultural transmission.

In some ways this view presents change as a more fluid and connected event: not discrete social movements that succeed or fail, and not simply dominant cultural perspectives that persist or fracture, but rather a whole series of active and dormant social groupings that generate persistent meta-networks of trust and collaboration, through which ideas may proliferate or aggregate.

This may impact our perspective on change: to give greater focus to legacy structures – to consider interconnection – to view the start and end point of cultural interventions in a more permeable way.

Or it may all be wrong: as i say, i am evolving my language and thinking in this space.

I do know that i find the broader work on tipping points useful, insightful, but possibly one dimensional. Understanding change as a social movement indicates that it takes place in multiple layers, and to understand these mechanisms is the challenge.

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
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