Tuesday, 7 July 2009

More Thought Leadership from Tom Crompton


Tom at WWF (many blog readers will have seen & hotly debated Weathercocks and Signposts) has a whole new thoughtpiece, direction, book and web forum all about the need to engage with identity campaigning. the blog features lots of my other favourite thinkers on transition culture including julespeck



Identitycampaigning.org aims to promote debate on whether it will be
possible to meet today’s global challenges without engaging the ways
in which human identity and social values are shaped. A large part of
the mainstream environment movement – and civil society more generally
– seems to have been persuaded that to engage aspects of identity or
social values is a futile effort, that these things are essentially
immutable, and that the best that can be hoped for is to achieve
incremental change by appealing to existing aspects of identity. This is
a self-reinforcing and defeatist perspective that should change. No
successful political programme would work under this self-imposed
constraint, and nor should civil society.

Identitycampaigning explores the ways in which identity and values can be engaged. These include:

(1) An understanding of the way in which people's EXPERIENCE of
government policy shapes values (afterall, Margaret Thatcher famously
said: "it isn’t that I set out on economic policies; it’s that I set
out really to change the approach, and changing the economics is the
means of changing that approach. If you change the approach you really
are after the heart and soul of the nation. Economics are the method;
the object is to change the heart and soul.").

(2) Closely related to this, the way in which certain policies have a
profound impact on our identities as a result of their 'material'
effects (for example, the way we decide, collectively, to regulate
commercial marketing (for example, Sweden has banned commercial
advertising to children under 12 and this may have an impact on the
prevalence of a set of materialistic values).

(3) Exploring routes to identity change amongst individuals (for
example, through the 'heart and soul' work that Transition does). This
doesn't represent a panacea (we need social and political structures
that legitimise and support changes in values at an individual level):
but it is important - perhaps necessary? - if we are to create space for
such contextual changes.

If these are issues that matter to you - either because you share the
frustration outlined above, or profoundly disagree, please visit
identitycampaigning.org and join the debate. Occasional visitors can
post their thoughts as comments - those who feel more committed to
engaging this debate might want to be listed as contributors (in which
case, please contact Tom Crompton, at tcrompton@wwf.org.uk).

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