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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Educating, Empowering & Engaging Through Film-Based Activism: A Survey of Invisible Children Participation and Impacts

Creative Commons 'BY-SA' version 4.0 license

This report presents analysis from a study of Invisible Children and its role in developing and leveraging civic capacity for social change. Founded in 2005, Invisible Children (IC) is both a media-based organization as well as an economic development NGO with the goal of raising awareness and meeting the needs youth affected by the ongoing war in central Africa. This study aims to better understand the unique methods Invisible Children has used to empower and engage participants as well as the impacts of participation.  Results suggest that Invisible Children has been successful in creating enhanced social capital and civic capacity of its youth supporters. Participants reported increased motivation to engage in social justice, enhanced leadership and organizational skills, and improved relationships within and beyond their communities. In addition, the various forms in which participants were exposed to and participated in Invisible Children suggest that this capacity is being at least partially channeled back into the organization through fundraising and high levels of social diffusion of their message. These findings may assist in our understanding of the recent viral spread of the Kony2012 video. Learning from the case of Invisible Children can be of great service to other groups trying to leverage youth capacity for social change as well as enhance our understanding about how people are interacting with our changing media ecosystem. Results have implications, not only for other film campaigns, but for any organization trying to leverage media for social change.

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