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Rethinking Social Change for Health: Social Movement Responses to Emerging Threats to Health Equity Blake Poland Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University.

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Presentation on theme: "Rethinking Social Change for Health: Social Movement Responses to Emerging Threats to Health Equity Blake Poland Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Rethinking Social Change for Health: Social Movement Responses to Emerging Threats to Health Equity Blake Poland Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto Health Research with Real Impact University of Central Lancashire May 15, 2013

2 In the next 15 minutes emerging threats to health equity social movement responses the Transition movement rethinking social change resilience thinking & complexity science practice theory 6 principles for greening settings implications for practice

3 2 questions Do you agree with the following? 1.Our current ways of being and doing (Industrial Growth paradigm) are overwhelming the capacity of the earth to support life. Y/N 2.The worlds problems cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that produced them. Y/N

4 Emerging Threats (to health equity) Climate change Ecosystem degradation Widening socio-economic inequities Resource depletion & energy insecurity

5 Tony Biddle, 2010

6 SOURCE: Barnosky, A. D., et al. (2012). Approaching a state shift in Earth's biosphere. Nature, 486(doi: /nature11018),

7 Social Movements Respond Transition Towns build community resilience in the face of emerging threats by substantially reducing local dependence on fossil fuels, while upholding & strengthening societal commitment to equity & social justice

8 Goals of Transition Initiatives Building Community Resilience Transition to a low-carbon society Reskilling Emphasize connectedness Re-localizing production of basic needs If it isnt fun, it isnt sustainable

9

10 Going viral? Source: transitionnetwork.org 2013/05/9 * total exceeds sum of muller + official started in Totnes, UK in 2006 as of May 2013: Transition Initiative Status WorldCanada Official44926 Earlier stages of development TOTAL 1105*88

11 Rethinking Social Change Conventional AssumptionsNew Transition Thinking, based on evidence Social change starts by raising awareness and convincing people of the need for change (scared into action) Fear can also breed denial /resistance People want to be part of exciting, fun, hip and rewarding new initiatives Awareness -> actionBehaviour -> knowledge & beliefs So few people know whats going on – the amount of work to be done is overwhelming A few key trigger events can spark a rapid sea change in awareness and willingness to act Change is linear and predictable – you can compare energy expended with expected returns/impact, and decide whether its worth it Social change is almost always non-linear & unpredictable, building critical mass can take time but social tipping points come surprisingly quickly One acts if one has enough hope and the chances of success are reasonable One acts because it is the only right thing to do – we cannot control outcomes, but we can decide how we will be in the world Hope is generated through action

12 Research Objectives: 1.Document and describe the emergence of Transition Towns in Canada. 2.Produce a contextualized account of this movements attempt to build lifestyles that are locally grounded, equitable, and sustainable.. 3.Derive lessons learned that could be used by this and other movements in the future looking to mobilize hopeful, just, and sustainable responses to emerging challenges. 4.Contribute to theory about social movements and sustainability. (practice theory)

13 Practice Theory practices are social, routinized, pre-reflexive, and collective competence = enacting practices aligned with social field/expectations changing practices is a collective effort, requiring enabling conditions (policies, resources, social expectations) social movements catalyze change by questioning the status quo, proposing alternatives, unmasking resistance, creating a sense of the possible, and creating a community of practice for trying new ways of thinking & doing (Haluza- Delay, 2008)

14 Implications for practice emerging threats will be key determinants of health in the coming decade traditional health education applied to environmental issues is likely to fail miserably social movements are major drivers of social change – public health needs to figure out how to be effective ally new social movements like Transition Towns create spaces for people to experiment with more eco-friendly locally-appropriate ways of being and doing need to pay attention to equity in transition

15 Poland, B. D., & Dooris, M. (2010). A green and healthy future: the settings approach to building health, equity and sustainability. Critical Public Health, 20 (3),

16 In Transition 1.0: From oil dependence to local resilience UK, 2009, documentary, colour, 50min Produced by The Transition Network. For more information :


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