How a Rock Concert Inspires Social Change

By Ruebottom, Trish; Assistant Professor of Strategic Management et al. | The Canadian Press, September 28, 2017 | Go to article overview

How a Rock Concert Inspires Social Change


Ruebottom, Trish, Assistant Professor of Strategic Management, Brock University and Ellen R. Auster, University, York, Canada, The Canadian Press


How a rock concert inspires social change

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This article was originally published on The Conversation, an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts. Disclosure information is available on the original site.

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Authors: Trish Ruebottom, Assistant Professor of Strategic Management, Brock University and Ellen R. Auster, York University, Canada

The world is awash with massive inter-sectional social problems, from devastating hurricanes and tsunamis driven by climate change to the refugee crisis, racism and the rise of white nationalism.

We have a huge need for widespread social change. And this includes all of us changing the way we live if we're going to truly address any of these issues.

Yet many of us seem content to simply continue on with our lives. We are either actively trying to maintain the status quo or pursuing our own self interests; and we are only able to see the world from our own perspectives.

How can we shake up ourselves and our neighbours in our everyday lives in order to get everyone involved in creating social change?

The rock concert for social change

Each autumn, tens of thousands of young people get ready to take part in We Day, a series of rock concerts and speaking events designed to inspire social change. This year, the event takes place in Toronto on Sept. 28, in Vancouver on Oct. 18, Ottawa on Nov. 15 and in many other locations across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. throughout the school year.

Rock stars like Kelly Clarkson and Hedley will share the stage with celebrity activists like Mia Farrow and world political leaders such as former secretary-general of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon.

Targeted at youth, We Day takes students out of their school environment with a goal to mobilize the audience as "change-makers." The event is based on the idea that people want to do something meaningful with their lives. In the We Day philosophy, we all want to create change in the world - we just need a kickstart and to be taken out of our everyday lives, to be energized by 20,000 other people in a large stadium full of inspiring people and celebrities.

Such politically oriented concerts are nothing new. Benefit concerts like Live Aid date back to 1985. Live Aid was a dual concert held simultaneously in London and Philadelphia to bring attention (and money) to the Ethiopian famine.

Twenty years later, the 2005 Live 8 concert aimed to bring attention to continuing poverty in Africa and called on G8 leaders to eliminate debt and increase foreign aid to the continent. Since then, there have been many other large and small benefit concerts created around the world to raise awareness about various social issues.

However, media studies research on these types of events has been mixed. Some scholars found benefit concerts can indeed build compassion and raise awareness. …

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