Assistant Professor Robert Richards recently presented a refereed paper entitled "Discussion-Based Social Change: An Account of Basic Individual-Level Change Mechanisms," at the 2019 National Communication Association annual convention in Baltimore, Md.
Richards presented the paper as part of a program entitled "Advances in Dialogue and Deliberation Theory and Research," chaired by Dr. Cheryl Maiorca of New Mexico State University.
Richards’ paper looks at how discussion-based engagement processes such as dialogue and deliberation can help marginalized communities to survive by contributing to social change. The relationship between social change and such processes remains little understood, in part because individual-level change mechanisms in these processes have not been comprehensively investigated.
The paper aims to begin to address that gap in the scholarship by offering detailed accounts of five such mechanisms – learning, perspective-taking, consciousness-raising, awareness of new social ties, and creativity – and integrating them into a conceptual framework. The framework specifies associations among and outputs of those mechanisms, and feedback loops.
Richards’ work explains how the framework can be applied by researchers and instructors to shed light on the relationship between policy discussion and social change, as well as by practitioners to design engagement processes to more effectively foster change.
Some of the ideas presented in the paper were developed through Richards’ discussions with Clinton School students during the course “Communication and Social (Ex)Change” in Fall 2018.
“The paper exemplifies how teaching and research are integrated at the Clinton School,” Richards said.
The Clinton School Speaker Series not only enhances the education of Clinton School students, but also provides a venue for the public to engage in intellectual discussions on the issues of the day.