Sunday, 14 December 2008

Social action and changing beliefs

For those interested in extending their thinking on how to change beliefs, the following is a very eclectic list of readings I have found useful in thinking about social action and beliefs.

I have chosen writings that by and large do not delve into the minutiae of cognition and social psychology and have a degree of readability.

Beyond Public Education Campaigns Spring 2008 No. 33
This is an easy read on basic social marketing. ‘Marketing’ is a term that is laden with negative meaning for many professionals in public health and the social sciences, as well as people working in the broader community sector. Marketers are often thought to be driving consumption and chasing the pursuit of profit above community good – using clever psychological tricks to make people want to buy things they don’t need. But public health could benefit from a better understanding of marketing principles to help in the quest to shift public policy, to influence organisations outside of the health system to introduce health-promoting practices, and to encourage behaviour change in individuals.

The Powell Memo
How the Right won the war of ideas from the 1970's till now.

Don't Think Of An Elephant!/ How Democrats And Progressives Can Win: Know Your Values And Frame The Debate: The Essential Guide For Progressives
The book that got the American Left galvanised into action. By George Lakoff - Political Science - 2005 - 144 pages Author George Lakoff has become a key advisor to the Democratic party, helping them develop their message and frame the political debate.

The Framing Wars - New York Times Magazine
The effects of this book, and a bit of criticism of Lakoff (which incidentally I do not share - the author of this attributes spin and lack of real political ideas to a Lakoff approach. I have read a good deal of his other stuff and disagree because of that and also because the political ideology of the broad left and right have long histories which cannot be obliterated by criticism of lack of immediate ideas about implementation.)

Mad Travelers: Reflections on the Reality of Transient Mental Illnesses
By Ian Hacking - Psychology - 1998 - 239 pages. The book might look like an outlier. It isn't.. It follows the same theme of frames and categories as the structure of beliefs..Ian Hacking is a great philosopher of whom I regret not yet reading more.

Hacking uses the Dadas case to weigh the legitimacy of cultural influences versus physical symptoms in the diagnosis of psychiatric. He traces four preconditions for weird beliefs about illness to take hold.

Worth thinking about in the light of other beliefs about the workings of the world.

Made to Stick - Why Some Ideas Die and Others Survive
The book Razia bought on Sticky Ideas also belongs in this odd collection. Written by two brothers who are far more into marketing than any of the above, it contains some interesting ideas, although I have not read a full copy yet.

Julia Thornton

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