From Us to Them
Rate the contents of this page:
- To start exploring the dynamics of social change
- To explore the variety of groups/forces within society, and how these can facilitate or resist change
At least 30 minutes
- Handouts prepared in advance by the facilitator with “The pie from us to them” (see picture below)
- Flip charts
- Pencils for participants
I) Introduce the activity by saying that most situations of social change are characterised by a conflict between those who want change and those who don’t. Draw a point at the left edge of the flip chart and say that it represents “our side”. Draw a second point at the right edge of the paper and say it represents “their side”. We want the change that they don’t.
II) Ask participants if they can give any examples of such a situation. Then ask, “How many actors/groups can you identify between you and them?” Gather the answers.
III) Then draw a line connecting the two points on the flip chart and say that societies usually include a variety of groups with different standpoints – groups that are closer to our side, or neutral or closer to the other side. Draw a half circle above the line and divide it into segments, as follows:
IV) Ask participants to suggest a claim that advocates might put forward as part of their struggle. Write it on the flip chart. Then ask participants who in society might be closer to their claim. Put these groups in segments closer to “our side”. Ask who might be neutral and place them in the central segments. Ask who might oppose their claim and put them in the segments closer to “their side”.
V) Continue leading the discussion. Tell them the good news: in most struggles to bring about social change you don’t need to win over your opponents – you don’t need to get them to share your point of view. It suffices to move each of the segments one step in your direction to get what you want. Make sure this is understood.
VI) Continue leading the discussion. Say that sometimes there is a polarisation in a conflict and groups closer to their side move one step closer towards them. Even in this situation you can get what you want by having the groups closer to your side and the neutral ones move one step towards your side. Believing that they must be won over, and that all groups must share our point of view could be a source of desperation, and thus inaction, for many groups. Besides, believing that the whole struggle must be focused against them could be a mistake. Usually there are a variety of groups between us and them. Let’s not forget that.
VII) Distribute the handouts. Get individuals to compile half of the pie with groups relevant to the campaign they’re involved in, or linked to a campaign they know about.
VIII) Divide the plenary into groups of 5-6 people and ask them to share their findings and discuss.
Oppenheimer, M., Lakey, George, A Manual for Direct Action, ***: Quadrangle Books, 1965.