Latest Posts

Guest

Guest post by Kat Wall Class & NGOs 3 7 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

Guest

Part 1 of the "Work In Progress" Series by Tanya Hawkes So, 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

Richard Hawkins

New Project Framing Climate Justice Applications Open!

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

Elena Blackmore,Bec Sanderson & Dora Meade

Movement Narrative Review The Narratives We Need 1 Strengthening the stories that unite us

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.

Read more

Bec Sanderson

New Publication A new guide to testing your communications

When you communicate you usually have a good idea of what you want to say and the change you want to make. But when it comes to crafting a message, how do you know whether it will work?

Testing helps you find out whether your choice of framing (the emphasis you put on particular concepts) is likely to lead to the outcomes you are aiming for.

We believe that every campaigner can improve their communications with testing, and we insist that it’s possible to do this even on a low budget!

Read more. 

Bec Sanderson

New Publication Framing the Economy report How to win the case for a better system...

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. Read more

Bec Sanderson

Interview Meeting Shalom Schwartz

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

Elena Blackmore

New Publication A new framing toolkit for equality activists across Europe

LGBTI Flag and Symbol

Download our new toolkit for Framing Equality here! 

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

Elena Blackmore

Organisational Restructuring PIRC goes flat 3 Twelve 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

Elena Blackmore

Pride & Prejudice Six framing lessons from London Pride

This month, people marched across London in the culmination of Pride. But in the lead up to the festivities, the organisers faced some pretty fierce criticism for this year’s Love Happens Here campaign. The PR company behind the campaign apologised after receiving complaints about the centring of straight people’s voices, the use of homophobic slurs and stereotypes, and the exclusion of trans* stories.

Sounds kind of like the opposite of Pride, right?

There are some juicy lessons in this experience for a framing geek like me. And they chime pretty well with a lot of the lessons we’ve learnt over the past couple of years in our Framing Equality project (read more here). Read more

Elena Blackmore,Dora Meade,Bec Sanderson & Richard Hawkins

New Publication General Election Framing Guide 3

For anyone working towards a more equitable, democratic and sustainable societyOccupy Protester Shouting

It’s just seven days until the polling stations close.

Depending on your constitution (and/or the most recent poll you have seen), you might feel we are living in exciting (or terrifying) political times, or you might agree with Brenda in Bristol that there is just too much politics these days. Either way, it’s important not to lose sight of the long-term changes we are working towards. Knowing how to communicate effectively is a key part of creating this change.

At PIRC, we work with others to explore how to best frame the issues we care about (creating a nicer, more equal, happier, greener world). From the varied groups and issues we’ve worked on (including our current work on Framing the Economy), we’ve summarised five things anyone working for a more equitable, democratic and sustainable society should keep in mind when communicating with people in this week before the election (whether you’re out door-knocking, sending your final email campaigns or writing blogs). Read more

Bec Sanderson

Beyond “The Game is Rigged” 1 Finding a New Economic Story

“If you think about it, the economy is rigged. The banking system is rigged. There’s a lot of things that are rigged in this world of ours… and we’re going to change it. You know, the system, folks, is rigged. It’s a rigged system.”

If we take the word ‘folks’ out, this quote from Donald Trump could just have plausibly been from the British Prime Minister Theresa May or leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn. In her speech to the Lord Mayor’s Banquet in November 2016, May said that “a minority of businesses and business figures appear to game the system and work to a different set of rules”, and in his address to the Fabian Society this January, Corbyn used the word rigged in relation to the economy or the system no less than ten times, concluding that he stood “for a complete break with this rigged system”.

‘The system is rigged’ is a frame that implies a minority of elite humans who have intervened to twist the economy to their own advantage, and it brings to mind the corruption of supposedly faraway governments, and the imagery of seedy casino interiors where money sloshes around and the house always wins.

This a) captures something true about our present economy and b) connects with public opinion in the UK and US.  That means it’s effective, right?  Not necessarily.

It’s a frame that resonates, but at the same time can stir anger and reinforce fatalism.  Anger can impair thinking and narrow our ability to evaluate solutions, and, as communications expert Anat Shenker-Osorio puts it: “anger dismantles; it doesn’t create”.   Fatalism is demotivating, and in this context reinforces the belief that it’s ‘just human nature’ for people with wealth and power to try and stay at the top; that there is nothing ordinary people can do to change things.  

‘The system is rigged’ needs situating in a strong story of how the economy can be transformed for the better–a story that is very different for Trump, May and Corbyn.   When Corbyn, like Trump, says ‘the system is broken, but if I’m in power I can fix it’, he might instead offer a more creative and hopeful solution that gives people efficacy (appealing to active citizenship, direct democracy and collective action).  He might aim to clearly differentiate his explanation of how a system supposedly so rotten and entrenched can change so fast.  

The job of ‘framing the economy’ is not about landing on one message that resonates and hammering that home. It’s about telling a compelling and coherent  story about what the economy is, how it works and what needs to be done. This story needs to provide meaning for messages like ‘the system is rigged’ and be repeatedly told by people who, for whatever reason, bring credibility and charisma into the telling.

The problem is that progressive spokespeople are too often failing to build a coherent story of the economy into their communications.  How can we change this?  

The first thing to do is to step back and ask what is ‘progressive’ supposed to mean? This is a good question.  Actually, it’s the starting point for the project I’m about to outline. Let me explain.

Read more

Bec Sanderson

New Project Can you help reframe the economy? Request for research

Blog pic

Call out for literature!

PIRC, New Economics Foundation, NEON and the Frameworks Institute are starting an 18 month project on Framing the Economy, helping social movements tell a better, more compelling story about what our economy is for, how it’s broken, and how we can fix it. It’s an ambitious project and we want to kick off with a review of what research is out there already so that we don’t reinvent the wheel.

Can you help?

The big question we’re asking is: How does the British public think about the economy? And, to break that down ever so slightly: what do people think, and why?  We’re trying to understand how people interpret new information on the economy, through the filter of existing knowledge, beliefs, values and emotions.

If you have access to any reports or research findings on this (rather broad) topic, we’re casting the net wide, so please help us by filling out this quick and easy form!

These are some of the specific areas we’re interested in:

    • Beliefs – what beliefs do people use to interpret information on the economy? i.e. beliefs relating to society, human nature, ethics, wealth, power etc.
    • Trust – who is trusted to talk about the economy and where do people typically get information and news about it?
    • Moveability – when do opinions about the economy shift, and why?
    • Audience – how does thinking about the economy change, based on people’s demographic or economic background?
    • Framing – what research has already been done to understand the stories that are told (or stories that could be told) about the economy?

Please send us what you can. We’re focusing on the British public in particular, but do send us sources from other cultures if you know of something excellent that we should be aware of.

The form, again: https://publicinterest.org.uk/framing-economy-literature/

And if you want to chat about this project,