Communication for Social Change: Activism, Trust-building, Responsiveness, and Responsibility
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 Export to Your Calendar 5/20/2020
When: 5/20/2020
9:00 AM
Where: Queensland University of Technology
Gardens Point campus
Brisbane
Australia
Contact: Anne Lane


Online registration is available until: 5/1/2020
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As we enter the third decade of the 21st century, societies around the world are characterised by the pervasiveness and power of communication networks. Multiple forms and channels of communication allow individuals and organisations to reach and interact with their networks of contacts in a variety of ways for many different purposes. Communication both constructs and enacts these networks, and provides mechanisms for groups and individuals to affect change at a societal level. In summary, this means changing society itself. Public relations, organizational communication and strategic communication are disciplines that have long been associated with efforts to encourage change through communication. However, the focus of these efforts has largely been the changing of stakeholder behaviour to suit organisations at an individual or group level. More recently, the emergence of the relational perspective in public relations and its synergies with stakeholder engagement and dialogue, as well as debates about creating shared value and corporate activism in corporate communications have shifted the focus onto the use of communication to create co-change at this meso level. The drive to harmonize corporate and societal needs is reflected by theoretical approaches that have emerged in corporate communications and strategic communication. These approaches are based on the understanding that corporate/organizational goals should not be limited to achieving shareholder value but also stakeholder value. This has seen the rise of concepts like “corporate shared value” (CSV) and “stakeholder value” instead of traditional CSR. More recently, the development of ideas like “corporate activism” and “CEO activism” (meaning that corporations can be agents of social change if governments, politicians, NGOs etc. are not able to move forward) reflect this. The emergent positioning of corporate organisations as civic institutions means there is now increasing awareness of, and interest in, the potential to use communication for change at a societal level. Adopting this macro level perspective on the outcomes and impacts of communication requires the revision and extension of existing theories and practices, and perhaps the use and integration of multiple disciplinary lenses to an extent that has not yet been fully realised. This approach might lead to a resolution of the dynamic tension at the heart of the move to achieve social change through communication: how can communication – renowned for its ability to foster the development of fractured, individual, and highly specific points of view – be used to create the generalised consensus required to generate social change?