How do transformative storytelling approaches work towards social change?

Creative storytelling approaches work towards social change by engaging with different expressions of power: power within, power with, and power to. The relationship between these three forms of power speaks to a process of empowerment that encompasses self recognition and belief, building collective strength and solidarity, and creating action for social change.

The following section explains how creative storytelling approaches can contribute to people’s individual and collective power to act and change their world.

Level 1: The personal.

Participants in these processes are given a sense of agency and control in the telling of stories in which they typically had little or no control. In revisiting and telling their stories, participants confront memories and experiences, potentially inviting a release of emotions that can be cathartic. This process invites participants to explore their personal experience through a creative and expressive lens. The approach supports participants to gain a different perspective of the experience, allowing them to explore how to represent themselves in media. Viewing their own stories and films is often revelatory and moving; many have experienced these processes as healing, transformational and empowering.

Level 2: The collective.

Workshops are carefully facilitated through the establishment of safe and dynamic spaces where value is placed on creativity, emotion, self-reflection and learning. As a collective, participants may share intimate moments of honest emotion and personal self-expression. This forms a bond, a sense of cohesion that may support a participant in overcoming a previous sense of isolation or loneliness in their particular narrated experience. Facilitated discussion around the challenges they may have faced in their stories lead to the identification of ways such challenges might be overcome, potentially leading to a sense of solidarity in moving forward in initiating positive social change.

Level 3: The social.

First person voices and visual material brings attention to the real challenges otherwise marginalised individuals face in the context of development and positive social change.  Technology allows for strategic and widespread dissemination of the stories, always guided by the principles of ethical, participatory, meaningful and strategic distribution.