What are transformative storytelling methods for social change?

These methods are participatory and visual and they include different creative forms of communication and expression. Whatever form is used, first and foremost, they encourage the telling of powerful stories.

Stories are produced through collaborative processes where participants and facilitators work together. Some stories are personal and others are collective.

The processes involved in creative storytelling are as important, if not more important, than the final products. There is a range of possible methods, and they are constantly evolving. These include: theatre for development or forum theatre, participatory radio, place-based storytelling, photovoice, digital storytelling, and participatory video. Methodological conversations between these approaches allow innovation that support different kinds of expression according to the context, issue and people involved.

Key consideration: Different creative modes and forms of technology are more comfortable and appropriate in particular contexts.

Creative storytelling methods for social change are:

  • multi-layered;

They incorporate different creative forms of communication and expression, including drama, photography, film, drawing, design, creative writing, and music.

  • narrative-led and story-based;

The production is driven by the articulation of a powerful story (as opposed to just the production of beautiful or compelling images).

  • co-created and collaborative;

The entire process is collaborative, in that participants and facilitators are involved in co-creating content and form, the shape of the product itself is a result of the iteration between different perspectives. The articulation of a powerful story is related to the production processes.

  • motivated by action-research and a transformational agenda grounded in critical social learning;

They emerge from a tradition of action-research that links ‘critical social learning’ to a transformational agenda in terms of social justice. Processes are driven by a desire to see social change or transformation, therefore are not solely about reflecting an aesthetic sensibility, but also about the embodied articulation of how changes can happen.

  • can form the basis for citizen action and advocacy.

These methods are about reflecting different social realities and projecting them into spaces where they are not often acknowledge or heard, and about creating opportunities within this process itself for dialogue.