Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds “Freedom,” “community,” “justice,” “protest,” “choice.” We all agree that these words matter, and yet they mean very different things to different people. Such radically different things, in fact, that individuals, protest movements, and entire states are sometimes prepared to go to war to resolve their understanding of, say, “freedom” over somebody else’s. In this course, we will explore how and why words come to mean such different things across time and space. But this course is different. It is not just a learning experience. It is a conversation that is all about you. We will introduce you to the latest academic research on how people and communities come to adopt particular values and ideologies.
Skip to 0 minutes and 48 seconds But we want to encourage you to put this knowledge to practical use straight away and to share your thoughts, beliefs, and experiences with other participants. We will be exploring how ideas change, adapt, how they are propagated, and how they are understood, not just in official political texts, but also in images, films, and everyday objects like schoolbooks and even toys. To understand the social life of political ideas, we’ll be drawing on the vast collections of the British Library. The materials we’ll be using come from political parties and governments which try to influence the way we behave and think, or maybe just reinforce existing values. They also come from protest movements, social groups, and commercial organisations.
Skip to 1 minute and 31 seconds Taken together, they provide a window on the ways in which we think and act politically. But they can also remind us that some ideas become so ingrained in our everyday lives that we forget to think of them as political at all. And instead, they’ve become common sense. We will not just be working with the great collections of the British Library here. You, the learners, will be contributing to the archive of materials that we analyse in this course. So we hope you will join us and our friends at the British Library. Take part in the debates about freedom, community, and citizenship. And explore the British Library’s great resources.