Everybody heard talking about social experiments. The new way of testing social behavior in a real context, in the real life. A lot of them are used as research experiments to study some questions like “how does people act in front of scenes of public violence/kidnapping/poor people asking help/ecc.” or other similar social phenomena. What if this type of approach is used not only to show and film citizens reaction, in order to carry out academic studies, but also to leave people a message trough a real experience? Some non-governmental organizations (NGO) tried to enact scenes of social disorders and other situations in real life, with the aim of “striking a chord” with citizens about the human rights issue.
A very famous experiment was runned by Save the Children in London , in the suburb of Surrey in August. The NGO used actors to set up fake scenarios in order to capture real-time reactions of the audience, who was horrified and angry to discover school gates shut, shops with nothing on the shelves and a fake ambulance brought to a stand-still by ‘guards’ at an arbitrary ‘check-point’. Surrey Police were on hand to safely manage the stunts. The goal was to show how is every-day life in Siria during the conflict and why sirians are fleeing away from their home country. Here the link to the video of Save the Children.
A similar simulation was done in Rome by Amnesty International Italy , the past October. In front of the famous roman temple, the Phanteon, in the capital of Italy. A fake priest, a little girl and a fake husband have simulated a fake combined marriage. Every day, in the world, 37.000 underaged girls are forced to marriage to older men because of family decisions, thus losing their childhood.
Here you can find a review about some social experiments acted out by some advocay groups about World Hunger, religious differences, homeless people and similar topics.
These new techniques of communication could be a very strong innovative instrument of advocacy. Nowadays, mostly in big cities, people have less time to read flier, stop to talk with activists or inform by themselves. Being present in a situation, where you can observe a social phenomena, may raise the attention of citizens to this kind of situations. The direct impact may affect the reality more than the best video or digital campagin, because of the real eye-impact. Furthermore the results of the experiments can be used for studies and to implement more incisive advocacy instruments. Could it be a new frontier?
Italo Angelo Petrone