Pop Culture For Social Change Terms and Definitions

The following definitions were developed by the Pop Culture Collaborative (except where specifically cited) to create shared understanding of the work among our community of staff, Managing Partners, Senior Fellows, grantees and cohort members.

TermThe Definition We Find Helpful

Pop Culture

The conversations, big ideas, major narratives, and immersive stories—films, TV shows, music, books, games, political speeches, journalism, and more— experienced by mass audiences of millions of people every day.

The Field

The Pop Culture for Social Change field is a diverse eco-system of artists, social change leaders and activists, researchers, strategists, philanthropists, industry executives, and others who use pop culture storytelling and strategies to promote just and humane narratives about groups of people historically excluded from the American story and society. The field focuses primarily on the entertainment, advertising, and media industries, which reach very large audiences (i.e. millions of people), are dynamic and ever-changing, and include opportunities for relatively small numbers of people to have enormous influence.

Cultural Strategy

A broad term that encompasses a range of distinct but related strategic practices that center artists, storytellers, media makers, and cultural influencers as agents of change. These strategic practices include culture change strategy, narrative strategy, cultural organizing, strategies to increase cultural equity, strategies to preserve cultures and cultural spaces, strategies to increase artist leadership in society, some forms of strategic communications, and more.
Source: This definition is adapted from terminology developed by Sr. Fellow Erin Potts with a network of cultural strategists. Read more about their process and learnings here.

Culture Change Strategy

A long-term, multi-layered approach designed—over time—to use stories and other immersive narrative experiences to create profound shifts in how people think, feel, and behave in in the world.
Source: Bridgit Antoinette Evans   

(Narrative Archetype)

A story people already know; a story template recurring in a culture over time that people widely recognize and understand, and to which they have a predictable response.
Source: Ryan Senser

Narrative System

The coordinated system of desired behaviors, new mental models, narrative archetypes, and specific story experiences that together will work to shift how people think, feel, and behave in the world.

Narrative Network

The coordinated community of artists, organizers, journalists, public figures, community leaders, and others who work together to activate a narrative system and move stories and other narrative experiences—that carry new narratives, mental models, and norm behaviors—into mass culture.