Climate change is featuring in this UK election like it has never featured in any before. Barely mentioned in previous election cycles, this year we have seen it front and centre of manifesto pledges, and Channel 4 hosting a climate debate for the first time. Awareness and concern about climate change is at an all time high, and we are at a critical fork in the road: we vote for a government that will act on climate change, or we don’t and face the consequences.
For many campaigners, this is also a critical moment to make sure we are talking about climate change in the right way. Specifically, it’s about putting global justice into our frames, and not allowing the debate to focus so narrowly on emissions targets. It’s about framing climate change with reference to historical injustices, such as colonialism, acknowledging that those who are most affected around the world are the least responsible, and advocating solutions that redistribute power and centre the communities on the frontline.
But it’s not necessarily straightforward to talk about climate change in this way. Read more
President Nixon famously said, “I am not a crook”.
With those 5 words, he managed to reinforce the idea, in the minds of millions of Americans, that he was, in fact, a crook. What he should have said is “I am an honest man”. When he used the word ‘crook’, he was parroting the language of his opponents, and simply reinforcing that negative association in people’s minds.
This is the first communications trap, which I call the…Read more
Giving to charity is supposed to be a good thing. That is pretty uncontroversial, most people accept that. But what about the word itself? What associations does it bring to mind? And most importantly, are these associations actually helpful to your cause?
Guest post by Kat WallClass & NGOs37 practical ideas to shift power & centre social justice
NGOs—non-governmental organisations—are often used as shorthand for the institutions of the movement. These are the places where there is money, jobs, influence especially with policymakers, and people with paid time to campaign, organise and act for a better world.
Many of the people who work in—and lead—these organisations are middle class (and white, and able-bodied, and men). And overtime, this has created cultures that work for these people (and that don’t work for others).
I want to explore why this is problematic for social movements—and for the possibility of social change—and some practical things that might be done about it.Read more
Part 1 of the "Work In Progress" Series by Tanya HawkesSo, you’re about to recruit?Designing recruitment with equality, fairness and values in mind.
How your organisation employs people is at the heart of its commitment to equality. The advert, application form, interview, the practical test (if you have one) and how you manage probation periods is an opportunity to address internal inequality and help shift the values and culture of your organisation.
I’ve worked in charities, NGOs and cooperatives for over twenty years, in areas of mental health, learning disabilities, environment, human rights and housing. Over the years I’ve designed many recruitment processes, shortlisted hundreds of candidates and interviewed dozens of people for jobs, including volunteers, permanent and short term staff, maternity cover and consultants.
What follows are real life examples that you can use to shape recruitment in your organisation. The examples I’ve used are just that – examples. Once you’ve got the basic legal requirements and good practice in place, you can tailor your recruitment process so it best reflects your organisation’s needs and values.
This is an important exercise. It’s so much more than just a series of processes. Read more
Catastrophic heatwaves, devastating droughts, deadly wildfires and extreme storms. In 2018, the world saw glimpses of what the future could be without urgent action to solve the climate crisis.
But everywhere, people are coming together to organise for real climate solutions. More than ever, we need to be fighting to win, to shift the narrative, and to build a massive movement for climate justice.
The Framing Climate Justice Project aims to strengthen the movement for climate justice in the UK. We want to use the project to build a more aligned community of activists and campaigners, and to improve how we are communicating about climate change and its causes and impacts. Read more
The world outside Wakada—our world—is rife with poverty, violence, oppression, fear, corporate power. Wakanda cannot remain immune to this forever.
The beliefs that maintain oppression and violence are widespread and common. But there’s another set of widely-held core beliefs where we see the potential for change. These beliefs sit side by side: toxic and oppressive, liberatory and compassionate. We may all hold these contradictory beliefs to some degree.
The choice—for Wakanda, and for us—is which set of beliefs we should build on.
What follows are the key lessons we learn on this journey. Read more
Social movements across Europe face some common framing challenges. We asked over 200 campaigners—environmentalists, feminists, anti-racists, new economists, and many more—what we’re up against, analysed the trends and pulled together the key lessons.
If you’re part of a group organising for social change, we’re sure you’ll be familiar with times of fear, grief and despair in the face of the rhetoric from those in power in the UK, Europe, and across the Atlantic. But then we see bright flashes of hope in social movements changing the story: Black Lives Matter and #MeToo; activists refusing to lie down in the face of horrendous corporate and state failures, such as in the case of the Grenfell activists or the women’s strikes in Spain and Poland; and campaigners worldwide fighting tirelessly for the rights of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.
We at PIRC spent the past year talking with activists and advocates from across Europe about framing.* In workshops and interviews, we dug into the framing challenges and opportunities our movements are facing.
This week we launched the Framing Nature Toolkit. Packed with activities, tools and advice, the toolkit aims to make our words work for wildlife.
The goal of conservation is to help the natural world thrive.
To do this we need the support of decision-makers and the public. Research has shown that framing—the language and associations around any given topic—plays a key role in gaining and maintaining support.
So our language is integral to our goals.
It is time to subject the language we use to the same level of scrutiny as other traditional conservation activities, such as managing the water levels on our nature reserves or understanding the population trends of threatened species.
Today PIRC, the New Economics Foundation, NEON and the FrameWorks Institute are launching two story strategies that progressives can use to shift thinking on the economy. They’re built on values and metaphors that encourage the hope that change is possible and increase people’s support for progressive policies.
Dominant economic narratives have gripped the public imagination and paved the way for regressive economic, social and environmental policies. Without the framing resources and co-ordination to challenge these narratives, campaigners often score own-goals when they talk about the economy.
The austerity story, based on the belief that Labour’s overspending ‘maxed out’ the nation’s credit card and left Britain in a mess, has been used to justify a regime of cuts to public spending that persisted in spite of the horrific social consequences and sluggish economic performance. More recently, the Brexit story has harnessed an unholy alliance between anti-immigrant sentiment and an aspiration for national self-reliance in order to ‘take back control’ from distant Brussels elites.
In the face of these stories, campaigners have often been on the back foot, using language that they haven’t shaped (like ‘Labour’s mess’), relying on oppositional politics (e.g. anti-cuts) and experimenting with frames (e.g. the ‘game is rigged’) without knowing how to use them most strategically – rather than asserting their own vision of the economy. Read more
Shalom Schwartz is the psychologist behind the values model that inspires Common Cause, a values-led approach to social change. This summer, I met him at his home in New York.
We talked about the connection between values and behaviour, some of the strangest applications of his theory and, of course, the values that matter to him most: read the interview in The Psychologist.Read more
Interested in attending or hosting a workshop in the UK in the new year? Get in touch!
We’re in Poland in the unpredictable summer of 2013. Progressive movements are collectively rolling their eyes at an attack on gender equality from the fringes of the religious right. It looks ridiculous: an attempt to discredit what they call ‘gender ideology’. The gender equality ‘agenda’ is denounced as a threat to social order; sexuality education, they say, is a tool used by paedophiles. Members of the progressive movement—including feminist and LGBTI groups and academics—are writing sneering responses in the media: teaching gender equality in schools is about improving the prospects of young girls; and no, masturbation lessons are not on the agenda.Read more
Organisational RestructuringPIRC goes flat3Twelve steps to organisational structural change
“It has been a bit of rollercoaster, albeit it one with no height restrictions and an office-based theme. During the process I have fluctuated between hopeful, frustrated, excited, bored, interested, determined, happy, grumpy, thankful and something that could only really be captured in a facial expression.”—Ralph
Two years ago, PIRC transitioned from a slightly dysfunctional, hierarchical organisation with a lone director to something more systematised, functional, and non-hierarchical. It’s been a proper rollercoaster. And it’s an ongoing process of experimenting and iterating.
Let me outline our experience of the twelve steps (sorry) to organisational structural change: Read more