IAF Methods

Plotting Newspaper Articles in the Social Processes

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20 - 45 11 - 25
This can be part of a larger analysis process. It is most effective with communities or whole societies but can be used with companies and organizations
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To be able to locate social events in the social processes and to gain confidence in understanding the social processes. This can be used to do social analysis or industry analysis.


You will be able to upload attachments once after you create the method.




    Setting: a room with an accessible blank flat wall 

    Preparation: Create one Social Process poster for the team from the attachment and small versions for each participant.  Find several very different newspapers for the group to work with.

    Prepare a presentation on the Social Process Triangles, using the resources below.

    Number of participants: 11-25

    Types of participants: any

    Time needed: 20 - 45 minutes

    Type of Facilitator-Client Relationship: The facilitator should be comfortable with the Social Processes.

    Facilitator personality fit: any

    Level of Difficulty to Facilitate (to be deleted during review): Specialized skills required



    This exercise is to become familiar with the Social Processes and discern some patterns of what is going on in the world. We will use newspaper articles to do this. Newspapers provide a fountain of information, ideas and opinions all of which can be related to economic, political and cultural processes.


    1. We will being with reviewing a little from the social processes (see the attachment and resources below).

    a. What were some of the terms that were used in the presentation?

    b. What were some of the images?

    c. What do the social processes remind you of?

    d. What were some insights you had while listening to the presentation?

    e. How could you apply the social processes?

    2. We want to divide into groups of 3 or 4. Each group should have at least one news paper. Divide the group into groups of 3 or 4 and pass out newspapers.

    3. You have a worksheet.

    a. Select 10 - 15 articles. (Try to have some in each of the 3 main triangles (economic, political, and cultural).

    b. Cut them out of the news paper.

    c. As a team, plot the articles on the social processes by writing the headlines on the worksheet of the Social Process Triangles. Because the social processes are not static and most news is complex, it maybe possible that an article could be plotted in more than one social process.

    d. Discuss with your team what you have learned in doing this exercise.

    e. Select a reporter to say what news you selected and where you plotted it.

    4. We now want to work together. Who would like to start? Plot one item per group on the large triangles.  You can stick the whole article or the headline on a triangle.

    5. Are there items that are not represented? Plot them on the large triangles.

    6. Are there items that are the same but plotted in some other triangle? Ask each group what the rationale was behind the way they plotted them. Plot the new item on the large triangle.

    7.  What patterns do you see here? Where is there much more going on?  Which dynamics of the social processes have less attention in the newspaper?  What clues does this give us into what is going on in the world (or community)?


    1. What were some of the things you noticed in the exercise?

    2. What was helpful?

    3. What was unhelpful?

    4. What are the learnings from this kind of exercise?

    5. What is the advantage of a model like the Social Processes? Disadvantage?

    6. Where could you use them?


    The workshop leader should do a short presentation on the Social Processes. Use the articles below for help. 

    Materials: Enough Newspapers for each group to have one or two.


    Follow-Up Required: none

    Usual or Expected Outcomes: A deeper understanding of the social process. The group can capture a snapshot of the current concerns of society.

    Potential pitfalls: People confused by the Social Processes.


    Source: Jon Jenkins

    Derived from: working with Dr. C. Mann of the University of Maryland

    History of Development: The social processes were developed by the Institute of Cultural Affairs in the early 1970's and have been used in a number of ways as analytical tools

    Recognizable components: Social Process Triangles

    References: https://wedgeblade.net/wordpress/socialprocess/index.html



    Book:  The Social Process Triangles, by Jon and Maureen Jenkins (back in print -- contact Maureen Jenkins)

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