The Dialectic Issue LifeCycle Model (DILC) is a very cool heuristic for thinking about how some societal problems become issues, what industry does when the problems climb the political agenda and how the issues are (or aren’t) ‘resolved’. Here’s a video starring its progenitors. The DILC has five phases, and looks at three categories of actors in detail – those trying to get the issue onto the agenda, those trying to keep it off/to shape the problem into a soluble issue, and the state functionaries (elected and non-elected).
Last year I came up with the idea of each of these ideal types writing letters to an agony aunt during each of the phases, seeking her strategic advice. I am posting these 15 (well, 16) letters and responses, one per day, over the next two weeks or so.
Today: Phase 5, the activists, letter #1
What just happened? How come everyone is getting lukewarm about this issue and our calls are no longer being returned?
Finding Indignant Zealous Zealotry Less Effective
Dear FIZZLE, how come? Cos everyone has realised how much it will cost to fix this issue, numbskull. What, you thought everyone would want to solve this problem regardless of the cost? Have you not been paying attention these last three thousand years? We choose problems that we can solve without too much financial, political or cultural disruption. Do they not teach you anything at activism school these days?
Hello again, ProblemLady.
Did we win? I am not sure. We started out wanting to completely change the way the industry did stuff (some of us even wanted it to abolish it). And for all our efforts we’ve got, what – a voluntary/regulatory regime and a few new “safer” products. These regimes are probably just window-dressing and the products are never going to achieve the level of market penetration that would be needed to make a difference.
Activist Mixedly Believing In Gains, Upset On Uncompleted Stuff
Answer: Ooh AMBIGUOUS, now the fun starts. You did build your capacity during the last couple of years, didn’t you? You weren’t focused on just protesting and feeling self-righteous, right? Because it’s a much harder proposition to get people to care “the government isn’t keeping all its promises” than “the government doesn’t even have a policy.