Organizing for Social Change

I found this week’s readings to be very insightful and systematic is breaking down all the components of social change. For me, when I conceptualized the idea of social change, I always framed it as gathering to fight against an oppressive force or entity in a very one-sided, defensive fashion. However, as the readings highlighted, there is also a key element of balance within a fight where you have to work with the tensions of oppression and fragmentation to realize your ultimate goal.

This really came out in the control vs. emancipation tension that the readings discussed. One point that the authors made was that when trying to bring about change, the actions of the oppressed must be embedded within the system of control . Meaning that in order to fight against or change the system, you must not only acknowledge, or be aware of, it but also learn how to work with it to bring about change from the inside out. I thought this was an interesting point because it speaks to the power of society or policy levels actions to incite change. Taking a health perspective, in many of my classes, we discuss health as being a combination of personal behaviors as well as social and economic environmental factors that shape the resources and opportunities people have in their life. And because health is more than behaviors, sometimes the best way to fight back is by working to alter the circumstances in which people live. And often times this is achieved by working through or with the people with the control. For example, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had profound health impacts for the African American population because it changed the circumstances in which they received health care through the desegregation of hospitals. However, this was only achieved by working with the people in power to bring about change at the federal level. Similarly, this also works on a society level through using the system to change social norms and stigma. Like the readings mention with the entertainment-education programs in India, working through systems like the media or performance can be effective in altering society’s control on the individual. An example of this at work is the Anti-stigma project seen here.

Also, I thought the tension between dissemination and dialogue was also very interesting and relevant. Relating it to our recent performances and questions of who has access to what histories and information, I though it brought up great points about the tensions that can exist between those affected and people who come in to help them.


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