This blog was originally posted at Identity Campaigning.
Thought worth bringing this into the Identity Campaigning space – interesting discussion on how this work relates to the role of art, sparked by William Shaw, and titled ‘How we failed to change minds’:
“We know how serious things are. So why doesn’t everyone agree with us? Despite Tim Smit’s “scream from the future”, attitude change is agonisingly slow.
It’s tough to admit that activists have clearly alienated a lot of the middle ground – the middle ground that needs to change behaviour the most. The us-and-them hostility reinforces bad behaviour. This is pointed up in a new WWF report Meeting Environmental Challenges: The role of human identity which applies identity theory to cultural in-groups and assesses the different groups’ responses to the environmental agenda. It suggests we need a new approach.
Until an understanding of the person is integrated with current environmental strategies, and until the environmental movement begins to tackle these aspects of identity and the social norms and structures that enable them, we fear that responses to the environmental crisis will remain inadequate.
Though it’s light on recommendations, one is clearly that we need to find new levers to change attitudes. Though Madeleine Bunting’s article in today’s Guardian suggests that culture and the arts have the potential to be that lever, aren’t the arts sometimes the arts are just as guilty of creating in-groups and out-groups as environmental activists? How much art about the environment is much better talking to people who agree with the artist than who disagree?”