The Sparkling Cycle : a culture-oriented approach to system change in oppressed communities
Culture-oriented approach to system change in oppressed communities
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning.
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Planners, facilitators, community leaders and activists committed to building fairer societies need to cultivate profound sensitivity to perceive the complexity of the communities they work with and envision strategic actions that unleash incremental transformative cultural processes. The Sparking Cycle explores how culture-oriented projects can catalyze community-inspired change in contexts of oppression. This thesis argues that such projects can be designed to leverage a traumatic experience in order to spark the collective capacity of a community to pursue the lives its individuals have reason to value. Practitioners can conceive sparking projects to support oppressed communities in creating efforts with the potential for scaling up and engendering deeper transformations.The first movement of this thesis is a conceptual framework that explores how cultural transformation processes built on the interaction between the concepts of conscientização and capabilities can generate a sparking cycle of increasing change. Drawing from the art world, I delve into the idea of contemplation as a necessary first step that informs our actions to address system change, which I specifically define as a shift from systems of vulnerabilities to systems of capabilities. The second movement grounds the theory in the story of an inspiring project I became involved in, in the community of Jardim Colombo, São Paulo, that is overcoming structural oppression through a culture-oriented process that started with an art festival. In the third movement, I apply systems thinking to theorize about how the process of transforming oppressed communities into systems of capabilities could look if we start building an infrastructure of change at initial stages of a sparking project.I finally narrow the ideas of this thesis down to a pragmatic set of principles for practitioners working in contexts of oppression. This thesis is an act of contemplation in itself conceived to inspire practitioners seeking to advance wellbeing among the communities they work with and help them design more meaningful actions. Similar to the stories I share here, which are sparking profound changes among the people involved, it is my wish that this thesis will spark new ideas to plant seeds for more hopeful futures.
This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections.Thesis: M.C.P., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, 2019Cataloged from student-submitted PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 97-100).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.