This activity gives a structure to talk about issues and explore what you agree and disagree with. For example, within the garment industry and understanding our relationship to the clothes we buy. You can also use this structure for other topics of debate.
What to do
Gather together a selection of statements around your topic – try to explore all aspects of your topic, including areas people may not have thought of; phrase your statements so they are strong arguments and not ever ‘sitting on the fence’ about an issue.
Make a sign each that says ‘I agree’ on one side and ‘I disagree’ on the other.
Read out the statements one by one and ask everyone to hold up one or other side of their sign. If they hold it high, this is an indication they feel strongly about the statement. The lower they hold it indicates they feel less strongly. If you haven’t made a decision, keep your sign out of view.
Draw out why the group either agree or disagree with the statements. Try to ensure that all participants have a chance to share their opinions. You can change your sign and/or the height of it as you listen to the arguments put forward by other people. It is important not to judge anyone’s responses but allow them to explore the issues.
Repeat with a different statement. Four or five statements are usually enough.
These are around the garment industry (you can add your own or adapt these):
- Workers in the garment industry should be grateful for the jobs fashion companies provide.
- I would pay more for my clothes if the workers got a better wage.
- Homeworking is better for women than working in a factory.
- Low pay is fine for workers in developing countries because the cost of living is lower there.
- If children are found working in a factory, the factory should be closed.
- It is the companies’ responsibility to ensure that the workers who make their clothes are treated fairly.
- Trade unions are a bad influence on workers and simply cause trouble.
- It is better to buy clothes made in Britain because it protects British jobs.
- It is better to buy garments from China because it creates jobs for Chinese people.
- The workers who make clothes really do not worry me.
- My concern is that I look good and can afford to buy the latest fashion.
- It is better to buy clothes from independent retailers than from high street chains.
If you are meeting in person, you could put up an ‘I agree’ sign at one end of your hall and an ‘I disagree’ sign at the other end. Then everyone can run closest to the end they feel represents their views.
Take it Further
If doing this activity makes you want to spread the word about an issue, why not make a mini zine?