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Co-creating change: Shifting the Narrative on rights and the economy in South Africa

The efforts of activists and organizations for systems change are often challenged by deeply entrenched narratives that lock the status quo in place. In the case of economic justice, the narrative that the free market is better equipped than the State to distribute resources efficiently is a huge obstacle, despite the mountains of evidence proving it false.

Shifting the Narrative: Strengthening the stories we tell chronicles a collaborative effort between South African community leaders, social movement activists, CESR, the Fight Inequality Alliance South Africa, and the University of Johannesburg’s Centre for Social Change. Together, we researched how narrative change tools and strategies can challenge dominant perceptions of the economy and human rights in their contexts and communities.

In addition to the report, we share the materials developed with the activists to aid narrative-organizing efforts. In them, you will find research-based recommendations to talk about human rights and the economy, cheat sheets that explain what narrative change is, and templates to create your own messaging based on the recommendations. 

Summary of narrative recommendations:

What works (and what doesn't) to shift minds around rights and the economy

This video and document summarize the project's key narrative findings and show you which ingredients research has found to be more effective when trying to change how people perceive things.

The Messaging Toolkit:

Guides and templates to develop narrative efforts

This toolkit was developed to meet the needs of activists and community leaders in their collaborative communications efforts. It comprises cheat sheets introducing narrative change, message planning templates, and pamphlet templates to adapt to different causes.