Interpreting Social Engagement Strategies of The Jellyfish Project Through A Social Marketing Lens: The Power of Music and Lived Experiences

Date

2015-04-22

Authors

Lansfield, Jessica Loraine

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Abstract

The Jellyfish Project (JFP) is the environmental initiative that uses music as a means to engage youth, increase awareness about climate realities, and promote behaviour change. Music is an exceptional tool to captivate youths’ attention and increase their receptivity towards environmental messages. The arts also play a role in democratizing engagement and exhibit the potential to mobilize social action and change. Thus, music serves more than a leisure purpose, it can rally youth around a common purpose and create a powerful shared experience between musicians and their audiences. This community-based case study connects arts-centred movements to an ecosystems perspective and social marketing approaches, while establishing social engagement as a social determinant of health. Social engagement is the intentional and active participation in one’s community to create change and requires resources, efficacy, and opportunities for participation. Multiple data collection methods were used, including focus groups with youth, interviews with key informants, and social media analytics. Research themes include 1) The Power of Music, 2) Seeking Connections, 3) Awareness ≠ Change, and 4) Searching for Solutions. Findings showed that The JFP presentation was well-received by its audiences. Awareness, the primary goal of the organization increased, yet it was evident that for behaviour change to occur a broader community-level strategy is necessary. This strategy needs to involve active participation by students, numerous follow-up strategies, and community partnerships to address contextual issues and support sustained change. Implications for practice include developing active participation and partnerships; incorporating additional interaction with youth in the school presentation program; enhancement of online and social media strategies, and the provision of lived, multi-sensory experiences, both online and in the community. This intentionally transdisciplinary research filled gaps in the literature concerning the interconnections between social engagement, the social determinants of health, and the ecosystems perspective. It was also the first body of research to propose that social engagement is an appropriate community-level social determinant of health. Originating in real world experiences, this research advances knowledge translation and exchange immediately, informing the social engagement strategies of not-for-profit organizations as they harness the energy of the arts to effect social change.

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Keywords

social engagement, social marketing, social dimensions of health, power of music, arts-based initiatives, community-based research, case studies, youth, climate change

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