We are living in a time of great social shifts and as a result great cultural and social movements. I've been writing and speaking about movements for almost 20 years. Mostly in the context of marketing, specifically how companies can align with and help build mass movements and in the process engage consumers in a highly relevant way.
Increasingly I can see how a wide number of topics can be fitted under the 'Uprising' idea - which was the premise for my best selling book 'Uprising: how to build a brand and change the world by sparking cultural movements," published by McGraw Hill.
While I tend take a marketing slant - I can't help it I am a marketer - the principles of Uprising force me to look at what is happening around us like a cultural anthropologist and try to make sense of them. What I am seeing can apply to topics as varied as brands that have succeeded by acting this way, such as Jim Beam or Emirates Airline, but also to thousands of other movements underway, including those being shaped by the current US economic situation.
For example, a recent story caught my eye. The story, entitled Americans are moving to Europe for free college degrees, produced by Katie Lobosco @KatieLobosco of CNN February 23rd 2016. In this story it said that there is a great many American students who are heading to Europe for their college education - paid for by European countries who believe in the sharing of opportunity, not the results per say - and the importance of higher education in the development of the next generation. This may seem like a side note until you see the numbers. A staggering 47,000 American students followed this path in 2012. It's probably a lot higher in 2016. There are at least 44 schools across Europe where Americans can earn their bachelor's degree for free. All public colleges in Germany, Iceland, Norway and Finland are free for residents and international students. And some private schools in the European Union don't charge for tuition either. Many are going out of their way to attract foreigners by offering programs taught entirely in English.
Isn't it supposed to be the other way around? Aren't there thousands of foreign students clamoring to enter US colleges? What's going on? What is the shift in society that is causing this movement to happen? For one thing it's easy to understand why Bernie Sanders has such an appeal among American millennial and Gen Z students.
But I think there is another more important insight worth noting. This is why young people are taking a serious look at socialism for the first time in American in 70 years. Why? Well just look at the numbers. The US economy is facing some giant challenges, especially with regards to what will be left to the next generation to fix.
In a recent article in Foreign Affairs, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers has said that the world faces looming "secular stagnation"--a persistent period of low growth, low inflation, and low interest rates. Meanwhile, a rising chorus of voices is also warning of the dangers of income inequality, and no wonder: middle-class wages in the United States have been stagnant for more than three decades, while the wealth of the top one percent continues to rise.
In this case 'Uprising' and the values it represents, is a way of life for these students. Challenging the status quo, taking a stand against the way things have always been done, finding new ways of doing things, using one's ingenuity rather than on relying on others to solve problems, believing in yourself and your own ideas, gumption, and of course making things happen. As Woody Allen said, 'Showing up is 80% of life."
I'm planning on looking at other topics that fall under the Uprising umbrella in a new Podcast entitled UPRISING!!! If you have thoughts or ideas on what topics would be worth looking at please get in touch @scottfrog
Scott Goodson writes for the Huffington Post, Fast Company, Harvard Business Review, is the author of Uprising and Founder of StrawberryFrog, the world's first cultural movement agency.