This blog was originally posted at Identity Campaigning.

Over the last few months, I’ve been working through various proposals for a pilot identity campaign: A campaign that can (1) demonstrate the principles of identity campaigning, (2) serve as a laboratory for developing some of the approaches (for example, the particular challenges of public communication around an identity campaign), and (3) that offers the prospect of effecting an important change in policy that has an impact on identity.

Whatever this campaign might be, it will need to be underpinned by a robust research base that makes the links between (A) a piece of policy change, (B) an attendant effect on identity, and (C) an impact on an issue of environmental concern. So, for example:

Example of campaign rationale (focus on materialism)
(C) People who express a more materialistic set of values are more antagonistic towards environmental concerns, and more resistant to engaging in pro-environmental behaviour > (B) People who are exposed to more commercial marketing tend to express a more materialistic set of values > (A) Policies could be enacted to restrict commercial marketing (for example, there are tight restrictions on marketing to children in Sweden and Norway).

If such a campaign was to be run, the research would need to provide a basis for building a powerful argument about the causal connections represented by the arrows above.

Better still would be to make the link between an aspect of identity and a range of social or environmental concerns:

Example of campaign rationale (focus on materialism)
(C) People who express a more materialistic set of values are more resistant to engaging in pro-environmental behaviour, show greater indifference to humanitarian concerns, greater prejudice towards disabled people, and greater indifference about animal welfare abuses > (B) People who are exposed to more commercial marketing tend to express a more materialistic set of values > (A) Policies could be enacted to restrict commercial marketing.

Making these wider links would allow for the involvement of not just environmental organisations, but a range of other groups (development, disability, animal welfare). That would make for a broader and more powerful campaign.

But what about those arrows – is the evidence base strong enough? I’ve spent time over the last few weeks speaking to academics who have been working on those causal connections. Right now I’m working on set of recommendations about these, on which I’ll post in the next week or so.