Social innovation and the webs of culture - Frances Westley

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Social innovation and the webs of culture - Frances Westley

  1. 1. Social Innovation and the Webs of Culture: sustaining or restraining? Frances Westley Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience May 2014
  2. 2. Shifting culture for positive social change Tostan • Created to facilitate a different kind of dialogue at community levels- facilitated meetings involving all stakeholders • Moved from women’s rights to human rights • FGC an emergent issue • Moved from community to community through religious leaders • Took advantage of opportunities created by international pressure; legislation in Senegal Mission to empower African communities to bring about sustainable development and positive social transformation based on respect for human rights.
  3. 3. Definition of Culture “Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun. I take culture to be those webs Clifford Geertz
  4. 4. Changing the system dynamics that created the problem in the first place A social innovation is any project, product, process, program, platform or policy that challenges and, over time, changes, the defining routines, resource and authority flows or beliefs of the broader social system in which it is introduced. Successful social innovations have durability, scale and transformative impact.
  5. 5. Social institution s Scale Structures of legitimation (norms and procedures) Structures of dominatio n (power ) Structures of domination ( resources) Structures of signification (values and beliefs) Macro Societies/ cultures Legal Institutions Political Institutions Economic Institutions Cultural Institutions (media, schools, churches, etc.) Meso Organizati ons, networks, communiti es, associatio ns Rules, procedures, norms that govern our interactions (formal or informal) around work and social interaction Hierarchies, distribution of authority. Rules that govern our interactions around power Markets, transactions, distribution of resources. Rules that govern distribution, access, and use. Values, beliefs, popular culture. Rules that allow us to interpret and reproduce the meanings of day to day invent Micro (interactio ns/convers ations) What are the rules that govern our exchanges Who controls the topic, the mood? Who gets more time/whose ideas are privileged? What values and beliefs inform the interaction
  6. 6. Culture and social innovation • Religion as barrier and an enabler – The hunger for meaning/salvation – The manipulation of values – The divisive/constructive potential of ethics • Culture as enabler – Creating cultures of resilience and innovation – Art and social change
  7. 7. The human search for meaning and salvation First – religion as double edged sword
  8. 8. Strong religious belief as a barrier
  9. 9. Religious change as opportunity: Funeral Rituals in Java • Introduction of new values through modernization • Disturbance of power relationships • Breakdown of rituals • Breakdown of personality
  10. 10. A new species of trouble – Kai Erikson (1995)
  11. 11. And yet…. Why?
  12. 12. Sense of Coherence Comprehensibility Manageability Meaningfulness Almedon et.al, 2006
  13. 13. So what happens when religion weakens?
  14. 14. Immortality Projects Becker’s The Denial of Death “The denial of death, the fear of it, haunts the human animal like nothing else; it is the mainspring of human activity - activity designed largely to avoid the fatality of death, to overcome it by denying in some way, that it is the final destiny for man” (Becker 1973: ix) [People] tranquillize themselves with the 'trivial“ so they can lead normal lives' courtesy of Steve Quilley
  15. 15. The Denial of Death 5. CULTURE AS INNOCULATION AGAINST THOUGHT OF DEATH A. Immortality projects B. Terror Management 20 Michael Owen scores against Germany A medieval guild of stonemasons courtesy of Steve Quilley
  16. 16. The Denial of Death 5. CULTURE AS INNOCULATION AGAINST THOUGHT OF DEATH A. MEANING B. VALUE C. DENIAL SYMBOLIC • Monumental achievements • Children • Works of art • Symbolic selves • Literal preservation 16courtesy of Steve Quilley
  17. 17. Avenues for heroism in late Modernity… 
 Any/all of these will get you into Hello Magazine or Grazia: 1. Wealth 2. Youthfulness, beauty, health 3. Sexual conquests [for men] or allure [for women] 4. Mindless celebrity, notoriety, fame These will not: 1. Decency 2. Hard work 3. Craftsmanship 4. Professionalism 5. Being a good mother 6. Being a good Christian 7. Being well-regarded in your community Becker: “Men avoid clinical neurosis when they can trustingly live their heroism in some kind of self- transcending drama” (198) “In order for something to seem true to man, it has to be visible supported in some way - lived, external, compelling. Men need pageants, crowds, panoplies, special days marked off on calendars – an objective focus for obsession, something to give form and body to internal fantasy, something external to yield oneself to” (200) 17
  18. 18. Hero/immortality projects and the changing culture… 
 BIOSPHERE JANICE DICKINSON (2009) The People Paradox Education ineffective • Assumption of rationality • Isolated individuals (Homo Clausus) Fear Ineffective Thinking about death (‘death primes’) 1. increases consuming behaviour 2. promotes intolerance of different worldviews 3. Increases intensity of ‘in group affiliations’ 18
  19. 19. HOW VALUES GET MANIPULATED The role of values in innovation. The dangers of intervening in cultures
  20. 20. Faulty theory of human behaviour. Why don’t we gain widespread traction on behaviour? Cognitivist vision of highly ego-centric, instrumental, rational individuals who respond to data, informat i o n , knowledge and incentives. courtesy of Steve Quilley
  21. 21. MOTIVATION, DRIVERS, PSYCHOLOGY Phenomenon: the Freudian unconscious and the architecture of the human psyche The Id is an ‘unconscious’ component, which acts as a storehouse of instinctual desires, needs, and psychic actions. By making use of the store of affective and emotional associations at the level of the Id, the unconscious mind can be manipulated for therapeutic [or economic, political, social] effect. courtesy of Steve Quilley
  22. 22. CAPTURING THE UNCONSCIOUS AS THE BASIS FOR DISRUPTIVE SOCIAL INNOVATION Edward Bernays • The Engineering of Consent (1947) • Manipulating Public Opinion: The Why and the How (1928) courtesy of Steve Quilley
  23. 23. CAPTURING THE UNCONSCIOUS AS THE BASIS FOR DISRUPTIVE SOCIAL INNOVATION Case: Exploiting the Freudian unconscious to promote mass consumption Edward L Bernays : ‘psychoanalyst to troubled corporations’ Uncle Ziggycourtesy of Steve Quilley
  24. 24. CAN WE USE THESE POWERFUL MOTIVATIONS FOR GOOD?? And by the way, what is “good”? Now, let’s talk about that thorny topic - ethics
  25. 25. “Riding the Waves of Culture” Fons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden-Turner – The authors have studied the effect of culture on management for 15 years – 1000 cross-cultural training programs in over 100 countries – Data gathered from over 30 companies with departments spanning 50 countries – Database of over 30,000 participants
  26. 26. Social Innovation and Culture • “Culture is the way in which a group of people solves problems and reconciles dilemmas” • Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner, 1998: 6.
  27. 27. Social Innovation and Culture • “Culture is like gravity: you do not experience it until you jump six feet into the air.” • Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner, 1998: 5-6. – Universalism vs. Particularism (rules vs. relationships) – Individualism vs. Communitarianism (the group vs. the individual) – Neutral vs. Emotional (the range of feelings expressed) – Specific vs. Diffuse (the range of involvement) – Achievement vs. Ascription (how status is accorded) – Attitudes to Time – Attitudes to the Environment
  28. 28. • Universalism vs. Particularism • You are riding in a car driven by a close friend. He hits a pedestrian. You know he was going at least 35 miles per hour in an area of the city where the maximum allowed speed is 20 miles per hour. There are no witnesses. His lawyer says that if you testify under oath that he was only driving 20 miles per hour it may save him from serious consequences. • What right has your friend to expect you to protect him? Social Innovation and Culture
  29. 29. • Universalism vs. Particularism Social Innovation and Culture
  30. 30. WORKING Across Cultures: Recognizing the Differences Universalist Culture 1. Focus more on rules than on relationships. 2. Draw up legal contracts readily. 3. View as trustworthy those who honor their word or contract. 4. Recognize as valid only one truth or reality, the one that has been agreed to. 5. Believe that “a deal is a deal.” Particularist Culture 1. Focus more on relationship than on rules. 2. Modify legal contracts readily. 3. View as trustworthy those who honor changing mutualities. 4. Recognize several perspectives on reality as valid, relative to each participant. 5. Expect that “relationships evolve.”
  31. 31. Doing Business Across Cultures: Practical Tips For Particularists (working with Universalists) 1. Be prepared for “rational” and “professional” arguments that push for your acquiescence. 2. Do not take impersonal, “get-down-to-business” attitudes as rude. 3. If in doubt, carefully prepare the legal ground with a lawyer. For Universalists (working with Particularists) 1. Be prepared for personal, “meandering,” or “irrelevant” interactions that do not seem to be going anywhere. 2. Do not take personal, “get to know you” attitudes as unimportant small talk. 3. Carefully consider the personal implications of your legal “safeguards.”
  32. 32. Ethics as “good conversation”
  33. 33. CREATING CULTURES OF INNOVATION AND RESILIENCE So diversity, combined, is a precondition for innovation – enough commonality or empathy to understand – enough difference to benefit
  34. 34. 1. Innovation thrives on diversity
  35. 35. Cultures of Innovation: SARS in Toronto:
  36. 36. Creative response in Organizations is built by: –Consultation across levels –Social justice –Decentralized decision making and self governance –Flexible scheduling –Avoiding blame and emphasizing learning
  37. 37. Using artistic production as a catalyst for radical transformation
  38. 38. Artistic production as radical transformation – artists as institutional entrepreneurs FAG • Allyson Mitchell and Deirdre Logue opened gallery in back yard. • Used their own social and intellectual capital to provide a venue for artists who normally would not get a hearing. • Tate Modern show: “kicking open the back door” The pair were interested in creating an opportunity to reorganize existing power structures in the art world, and running a feminist gallery out of their home allowed them to do things differently. One way this is done is by offering emerging artists flexibility and trust.
  39. 39. Art as a motivator – it moves us
  40. 40. Olafur Eliasson; The Weather Project, Tate Modern 2003
  41. 41. SOCIETAL JENGA IS A DANGEROUS GAME Social complexity [of any kind] costs, and here is where we start paying. Consumerism and growth linked systemically and intrinsically to every other aspect of modern society – good and bad. • Liberalism • Gender equality • Youth culture • Technological innovation • Political stability in class societies • Cosmopolitanism • (internally) peaceful societies Is a low-energy, low-throughput cosmopolitan society plausible? CAN WE RECONCILE THESE VALUES? COURTESY OF STEVE QUILLEY
  42. 42. Innovation as reconciling values - the horns of the dilemma

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