Citizen Research and Community Pathways manifesto
Citizen research, like citizen journalism, is one of the ways that individuals and local communities can start to take control of their own lives and futures. CNS is delighted be working with Suzy Harris, Lynda Austin, and Nic Blackwell as part of Community Pathways. Our ambition is to recruit and train citizen researchers and support them in creating better lives for themselves and others.
Over the last few weeks, we had a first stab at a manifesto. Here it is…
Our society has never been more unequal. .
Health, wealth, and opportunity gaps are rising. All measures of inequality show that local communities and citizens are becoming poorer and unhappier, becoming more disadvantaged and without any hope of change. Citizens are isolated and marginalised and finding it ever harder to connect with their communities. Levelling up is a fantasy at best; at worst, a cynical sound bite.
Something has to change.
And the traditional methods of attempting change are not working.
One of the traditional approaches whose institutional popularity is only matched by its real-life inefficacy is the “professional, we know best” model: Professionals are parachuted into a local community. Citizens are studied by experts. Recommendations are made to a higher authority. Money is wasted. Citizens are treated as the problem not the solution; their knowledge, thoughts, feelings, understanding, and capacity for change all ignored — and those same citizens are then blamed when the recommendations do not work.
There is another way.
Community Pathways have a successful history of citizen research, working with individual citizens and local communities to understand the problems they face and how to change them.
- We train citizens in all aspects of social and community research.
- We work with them on research projects to understand what is really happening, what is really needed in their local area.
- We and the citizen researchers report back both to funding and commissioning bodies, but also, and equally importantly, to the local communities with detailed analysis and action plans.
- We help the citizen researchers work with their communities to introduce their own evidence-based change at a local level. This has worked in the past. It can work again. Citizen research empowers local communities to understand and change immediate local problems — and gives citizens the skills and confidence to continue that work in the longer term.
Posted on May 10, 2022 #CommunityPathways #CitizenResearch
“Nothing about us without us” has long been a rallying cry of the dispossessed and disadvantaged. Citizen research helps citizens turn the slogan into practical action.