New Brave World: The Power, Opportunities and Potential of Pop Culture for Social Change in the UK

In 2017 the previous report in this series, Riding the Waves, analysed how pop culture has the potential to catalyse social change in the UK. Informed and influenced by the Pop Justice report series carried out in the USA, the study explored the themes of representation, authenticity, normalisation, narratives, novelty and relationships within the UK’s cultural landscape. But, as the name suggests, it was at the surface level of the waves, rather than the waters beneath.

This new report, New Brave World, by Alice Sachrajda and Marzena Zukowska, supported by Unbound Philanthropy dives deeper into the narrative ocean.

Launched at the Pop Culture meets Social Change Retreat hosted by OKRE and Counterpoints Arts, this follow-up explores three key themes of Power, Opportunity and Potential.

Developed out of the social impact sector, the report describes the pop culture for social change field in the UK, highlights its promise and suggests a need to invest and lean into its potential. The report uses the term ‘pop culture for social change’ to refer to work that connects social and environmental justice to pop culture and entertainment. The term ‘ecosystem’ is used to describe the many players, industries and sectors that operate at this intersection, specifically prioritising where narrative and cultural change meet and intersect, and the value of emerging key players such as connectors, researchers, influencers, innovators and funders.

OKRE is recognised in the report for its work as a global hub of expertise, bringing together research, direct lived experience and the entertainment industries, enabling each to benefit from the other’s knowledge and ultimately helping audiences to better engage with the ideas that shape society.

Presenting some key recommendations, the report also highlights the need for a better understanding of how and why pop culture affects our attitudes and behaviour, through a long-term structured approach to the evaluation of reach and impact of cultural content.