Podcast: The Value of Controversy

Mere Fidelity

I join Derek and Matt for the latest Mere Fidelity episode, on the subject of the value of controversy. We discuss whether controversy is worthwhile and how to go about it well.

You can also follow the podcast on iTunes, or using this RSS feed. Listen to past episodes on Soundcloud and on this page on my blog.

About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
This entry was posted in Controversies, Ethics, Podcasts, Theological. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Podcast: The Value of Controversy

  1. Geoff says:

    Social Change Movement.
    Conflict has been identified as a key element in the following Review of Literature of Social Movements
    ” 3.2.7 Conflict and resistance
    Movements relate to the ‘underlife’ (Goffman, 1962) of an organisation or society, often seeking to avoid detection. They are also often seen as an unwelcome, subversive or forbidden oppositionary force and conflicts often occur ‘in which challengers contest authorities over the shape and governance of institutionalized systems of power’ (Morrill
    et al.,2003). Such polarisation can have a strong impact on bringing and binding participants together:
    ‘The sense of crisis that develops in such conflicts strengthens participants’ belief that their
    fate is tied to that of the group. Because of the need to act quickly in a crisis,participants also become willing to submerge their differences with respect to the group’s tactical choices’ (Hirsch, 1990, as cited in Goodwin & Jasper, 2003).
    So, Palmer (1997) asks:
    ‘Has significant social change ever been achieved in the face of massive institutional opposition? The answer seems clear: Only in the face of such opposition has significant social change been achieved.
    If institutions had a capacity for constant evolution, there would never have been a crisis demanding transformation …Resistance helps change happen.
    The resistance itself points to the need for something new. It encourages us to
    imagine alternatives. And it energises those who are called to work toward
    those ends’ (1997: 164-165).

    There is an interesting table and conclusion

    2.2 Organisation studies and social movement analysis
    In the early 1960s no connection existed, or appeared possible, between organisational studies and social movement analysis, as the former concentrated on instrumental, organised behaviour while the latter’s focus was unorganised and unstructured phenomena (McAdam & Scott, 2002). Then, three decades ago,Zald and Berger (1978) drew our attention to the similarities between change processes in organisations and those in social movements and the wider society, later adding the intriguing suggestion that most major ‘second order’ changes in society had come about as the result of social movements, not formal, planned change efforts – offering a direct challenge to mainstream organisation development thinking and practice:
    ‘In some measure, much of the social change we have witnessed in America in the last several decades can be attributed to social movements, large and small …[these] have contributed to changes in the way we live’ (Zald et al., 2002: 1).
    However, whilst social movement theorists have begun to look increasingly to organisation studies perspectives for ideas for the reason that
    ‘…the most interesting problems and greatest advances in the sciences, often take place at
    the intersection of established fields of study’ (McAdam & Scott, 2002: 3),
    until quite recently, (Van de Van and Hargrave forthcoming), organisational change
    people have been unaware – or just not interested – in social movement
    ‘Organisational Study scholars have been far less opportunistic in
    taking advantage of movement ideas’ (McAdam & Scott, 2002: 3).
    Contemporary developments in the NHS, including the move towards devolution
    of ownership for improvement to Strategic Health Authority and local levels,
    and the increasing interest in the role of front-line clinical microsystems in
    service improvement (Donaldson & Mohr, 2000; Mohr & Batalden, 2002),
    highlight the timeliness of exploring this interface between social movements
    and organisational change further within the UK healthcare context
    (Table 2 Project / programme approach
    a planned programme of change with
    1 goals and milestones (centrally led)
    2 ‘motivating’ people
    3 change is driven by an appeal to the
    4 ‘what’s in it for me’
    5 talks about ‘overcoming resistance’
    6 change is done ‘to’ people or ‘with’
    them – leaders and followers
    7 driven by formal systems change:
    structures (roles, institutions) lead the
    change process
    Social movements approach
    1 change is about releasing energy and
    is largely self-directing (bottom up)
    2 ‘moving’ people
    3 there may well be personal costs
    4 insists change needs opposition – it is
    the friend not enemy of change
    5 people change themselves and each
    other – peer to peer
    6 driven by informal systems: structures
    consolidate, stabilise and
    7 institutionalise emergent direction
    As Strang and Il-Jung (2002) suggest, to traditional (organisational studies)
    questions like ‘what is this programme?’ and ‘what evidence is there that it
    works?’. A social movement analysis adds ‘who supports it?’, ‘how were they
    mobilised?’ and ‘how much influence do they have?’. Zald
    et al., (2002), examining the impact of social movements on organisations, pose similar questions: what are the processes and organisational structures that shape how particular organisations respond to movement demands? How do the changes in discourse, and direct and insists change needs opposition – it is the friend not enemy of change people change themselves and each other – peer to peer driven by informal systems: structures consolidate, stabilise and institutionalise emergent direction.

    This is abstracted from :
    “Modernisation Agency

    Click to access Million_Change_Agents.pdf

    While in places the review seems greatly dated (before social media) many of the principles adduced from the, then, literature review seem to continue to be relevant, in the current social sea changes, even though the application to the NHS was not embraced. Social change activism has, however, been embraced by many in the professions. Today this was reported:
    “Abortions should be completely decriminalised and made much more readily available, the president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has said.

    Professor Lesley Regan told the Daily Mail that abortion should be treated no differently to minor medical procedures such as removing a bunion.

    This week, RCOG will hold a ballot to decide whether the college should formally back the total decriminalisation of abortion.”

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