From the TUC

Organising, communicating & the internet

21 Aug 2013, By Guest

In the position I’m in here at the TUC, I’m often asked what I am reading, what I would recommend to others hoping to steer successful campaigns.

Over the last year, I have been increasingly drawn to the work of cognitive linguistics in the shape of George Lakoff (more on my take on communications can be found here) to consider how we talk about our campaigns.  As I say in the original post, for me, communications boils down to three aspects:

  1. Know what you want to achieve
  2. Be in control of the messages and frame
  3. Use Anger Hope Action in all messaging if you can.

Since posting, I took the time to read The Righteous mind by Jonathon Haidt.  Haidt expands on Lakoff by discussing six foundations that distinguish left and right ideological thinking and what this means in terms of politics.  But, to see both Haidt and Lakoff purely in the sense of getting the messaging right misses a wider learning point for activism.   The fundamental point which is explored in both works is that we need to understand where people are coming from, what their belief base is and consider how we translate and communicate our point of view to them.

Alongside this cognitive linguistic/moral pyschology avenue, I have been exploring the changing face and nature of collective action by reading Bruce Bimber’s Collective Action in Organizations Interaction and Engagement in an Era of Technological Change which is an update for me after reading Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations.  Bimber looks at how organisations evolve in changing ways of communication, views on action.

Combined, these two avenues give thought to how we continue to build the union movement here in the UK.  This isn’t a ‘what campaigners must do’ post, but I want us to start to ask these questions when we begin to put together a campaign or organising drive.

  1. What are you trying to solve, what do you want to change?
  2. What language and ideas do the people you want to reach out to use/have?
  3. Do they care about what you want to solve now? What is their motivation?
  4. What is the best way to collectivise those people?
  5. What is the best way to communicate to those people?
  6. Does your structure need to be sustainable?

If you have some spare time you might be interested in Jonathon Haidt’s TED talk and Bruce Bimber’s talk to the University of Catalonia