Re:Imagining Change

1) How can you use stories/narratives?

Stories can be used as an emotional appeal, to understand an issue, or person to persuade to call to action, it informs and deceives, enlightens and entertains. Can be used in political and educational institutions, entertainment, media and more through videos, movies, and literature.

2) What is its power?

Stories created can give information and support powerful institutions with particular interests swaying the majority to deception, and it becomes a cultural norm. From this point the truth in stories aren’t the focus, but rather the meaning extracted granted it matches one’s values or beliefs in a particular environment. Power of stories can be the underpinning of the status quo by giving definition to people, places, situations that may carry another ‘truth’ or ‘the truth’. Gene Sharp gives a vivid picture with this Consent Theory of Power model that demonstrates power broken down into 3 aspects: Conventional, Consent, and People models. The Conventional (or elite) dictates what stories are ‘true’ becoming the cultural norm, the Consent involves institutions, and the People are the ones who challenge the status-quo.

3) Why aim at the meme as a model? How?

Memes are recognizable slogans or images that spread quickly and embody their creator’s opinions toward something. Memes can function as models by carrying connotations associated with a particular viewpoint, and can thus can carry a meaning far beyond that of the image or saying. Memes can take on new meaning as well; the more it grows, the more chance for alternate interpretations to change the meaning in some way.

4) How can you frame an issue and win against a competing story/narrative?

To frame an issue with a competing story/narrative, the conflict, characters, imagery, foreshadowing and assumptions must be identified to deconstruct the competing story. By understanding the composition, an author can find a way to construct a story to reveal the conflicting assumptions or inconsistencies of the opposing story.

5) How can you reframe an issue? How are characters, imagery, and language useful for that?

Reframing an issue can be done by understanding the power-holders of the issue and their stance, to construct an issue that appeals to as many people on the opposing side and neutral parties as possible. This can be done by abusing unspoken assumptions and using components of framing. Characters can be useful for reframing, by utilizing those affected negatively by an opposing stance, an author can reframe to show those who are directly affected and change the audience’s minds. Moving images can also be used to reframe an issue by physically showing people the dark side of some issue; or to show them the good side of theirs. Language can produce catchy slogans and illicit vivid description. It can be ambiguous, so an author can use the misinterpretation to their advantage in reframing an existing argument.

6) What are the relevant points of intervention, and how can you intervene in them?

The relevant points of intervention are the point of production, the point of destruction, the point of consumption, the point of decision, and the point of assumption. Intervening in the point of production can entail picketing, strikes, taking over a factory or collectively slowing down the production process. Intervening at the point of destruction largely entails making the public aware of some destructive activity or phenomenon. Intervening at the point of consumption could involve boycotting a store or a product for its destructive effects or tendencies, but it can also involve spreading awareness through memes or “brand busting.” Intervening at the point of decision can materialize through protesting the decisions or inaction of some corporate entity or even taking over a corporate entity by force. Finally, intervening at the point of assumption entails changing the narrative around which an issue is framed and dismantling previously held assumptions about an issue through exposing hypocrisy or giving audience to voices that have been silenced or underrepresented.

7) What can you offer and what can you actually achieve?

In terms of the issue we are tackling, the obstacles we face are finding ways to ensure that our police keep their own actions in check and be held properly accountable for abuses of their authority. Many such actions are already taking place, such as encouraging citizens to video record when they are pulled over for any reason, as well as encouraging would-be-passers-by to video record police/citizen interactions when they happen upon them. I think ways we can intervene would be to further spread awareness about what rights all citizens have during routine stops so that if an officer demands a citizen do something they are not legally obliged to do during a stop, they can know they have the right to accept or decline the officer’s demand. Another way to intervene would also be to protest any law that would restrict a citizen to video record an interaction with an officer. Also, if police are not being punished for violating a citizen’s rights in way that gives them less incentive to do so again, this would be an issue I feel we could raise awareness for and work towards changing. I feel we can at least achieve making more people aware of their rights during stops.

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