I have a certain discomfort with social change initiatives that split the world into neat pieces and then go about fixing their piece.
To the material-scientific worldview, this makes perfect sense. Zoom into a ‘problem’ and then ‘solve’ it. Then replicate the solution on scale and yay! you’ve made a difference in the world.
At the same time though, it ignores the intricately interconnected nature of life and reality. It manages to exclude hidden costs of these interventions. It hides the politics of social change where a small privileged group decides what should be ‘change’ for someone else. It doesn’t highlight the dumping of a certain set of values from outside into a local culture.
However, it works well for donors and NGOwallas. By making things measurable, it allows money to move, accountability to be measured and essentially recreates the corporate model (which is meant to maximize profits) into a social context (where you’re responding to a more complex multi-variable scenario)
For any young person, it makes total sense to buy into this split-the-world sectoral model. It lets you specialise, become known and raise funds, allowing us to live a materially joyful life.
Dividing the world into parts won’t solve our most fundamental and systemic issues. And it isn’t the onus of the specialist social worker either.
By their very nature, specialists tend to divide the world and understand their part. They have a place in responding to local issues.
The crisis we are facing is systemic and multi-sectoral, multi-faceted. It is going to need us all. Till we don’t shift this, all ‘change initiatives’ will still mostly be located in the old story.
They will continue to be a part of the “problem” rather than the “solution”.