New Social Movements, Stories and the Pedagogy of the SHCR

The SHCR is a new social movement (NSM) in that it aims to harness societal and cultural action to effect change (Habermas, 1981).  It creates a diverse network of “volunteers” (Melucci, 1980) enacting discrete activities which collectively improve health and social care.

Central to NSM theory is the use of storytelling to frame personal and organisational change (Bate et al, 2004).  Snow and Benford (1988) describe three types of framing: diagnostic identifies problems; prognostic considers a future state and how to achieve it and motivational, which taps into participants’ beliefs, values and motivations. Framing allows the construction and communication their understanding of issues and scaffolds individual and group reflective learning (Buechler, 1995). This can be particularly useful in complex situations, such as those commonly encountered in clinical practice.

Framing through telling stories and recounting real experiences may also win others to a cause and call them to action. According to new social movement theory, storytelling has the potential to create large-scale socio-cultural change (used to great effect by Martin Luther King, for example). By arousing emotions, stories convey a more memorable case for change than facts and logic alone (Fryer, 2003). They can build shared purpose that crosses organisational boundaries and support communities of practice (Wenger, 1998) by creating “a living ‘collective memory’ of the lessons learned, even for newcomers” (Buckler and Zein, 1996, p.405).

Educational applications of storytelling

Below I have mapped the pedagogy of framing and storytelling using a tool developed by Conole et al (2004). The individual and collaborative combination of experience, information and reflection aligns to the theory of communities of practice (Wenger, 1998; Conole et al, 2004).

NSM pedagogy map

In module 2 of the SHCR, Building Alliances for Change participants are introduced to the “information” aspect of framing and storytelling – the theory. Synchronous, “chat-box” discussions during the live broadcast and in subsequent tweet chats may stimulate reflection and certainly generate social interaction. But it is only after the learning event, when change agents experiment with framing and storytelling in their own community of practice, do they benefit completely from the SHCR.




Bate, S.P, Bevan, H., Robert, G.  (2004) Towards a million change agents. A review of the social movements literature: implications for large scale change in the NHS.  NHS Modernisation Agency: London, UK [Online].  Available at (accessed 9 August 2016)

Buckler, S.A. and Zein K.A. (1996) ‘From experience: The spirituality of innovation: learning from stories,’ Journal of Production Innovation Management, 13, pp. 391-405

Buechler SM.  (1995) ‘New Social Movement Theories’ The Sociological Quarterly vol 36, no 3, pp 441-464.

Conole, G, Dyke, M, Oliver, M and Seale, J. (2004) ‘Mapping pedagogy and tools for effective learning design’, Computers and Education, vol 43, pp 17-33

Fryer B. (2003) ‘Storytelling that moves people. A conversation with screenwriting coach Robert McKee’, Harvard Business Review, June: 51-55 [Online]. Available at (accessed 9 August 2016)

Melucci A. (1980) ‘The New Social Movements: A theoretical approach’,  Social Sciences Information vol. 19; p 199-226.

Snow, D.A. and Benford, R.D. (1988). ‘Ideology, Frame Resonance, and Participant Mobilization’, International Social Movement Research, vol 1, pp 197-217

Wenger E. (1998) Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Identity.  Cambridge, UK. Cambridge University Press.

New Social Movements, Stories and the Pedagogy of the SHCR

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