Storytelling for Social Change

Storytelling is fundamental to human societies - and therefore, to social change. But when it comes to engaging the public in considering social problems as public issues, not merely private concerns, not all stories are created equal. The resources in this section are designed to help advocates distinguish between more and less effective ways of establishing a narrative that sets up policy thinking.

Wide Angle Lens is a highly visual, multimedia learning module that explores the difference between episodic and thematic storytelling. Grounded in scholarship, and filled with interactive features that build communicators’ ability to discern the frame effects of the storytelling choices common in media and advocacy, this course fosters skills in a key aspect of strategic framing.

wide angle lens

Communicators on social issues are often counseled to play to the public’s emotions or to find a compelling example that “puts a face on the issue.” Here is FrameWorks’ analysis of why nonprofit communicators should be wary of this common advice.

Nonprofits often need to talk about their impact, whether to attract supporters or to establish proof of concept. How can these “success stories” be told in such a way that avoids hero-worshipping and advances a more productive public understanding of what it means to engage in social change? This short guide walks communicators through FrameWorks Institute’s approach to framing the role of individuals and groups in positive change.

FrameWorks’ approach to Storytelling is novel in that it combines perspectives from across the social sciences to put forward a narrative construct and set of storytelling practices that are markedly different from the “entertainment narrative.”   This article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy examines FrameWorks’ approach to storytelling for social change.   Whether it’s the new Core Story of Education or the now-in-circulation Core Story of Early Childhood, FrameWorks’ research supports a different narrative arc than the common bootstraps story and a more expansive construct than the solutions story.