Participatory Action Research for the Public Sector
City councils are faced with great new challenges. On the one hand, empowered citizens alienate themselves from local government more and more. On the other hand, local governments depend on their citizens for solutions to complex issues more and more. The 7Senses approach aims to bridge this gap and bring about co-creation between government and different stakeholders in society. Participatory Action Research for the Public Sector is therefore widely accepted as a tool for societal change.
People are becoming more and more empowered. They are developing their own views and solutions to problems. More often these views and solutions are widely different from the way city councils deal with issues. Resulting in misunderstanding and irritation on the part of citizens and facing councils with enormous challenges in finding support for their policies.
Problems are becoming more complex
Moreover challenges facing councils are becoming more and more complex. Achieving goals in, for example, Sustainability (e.g. climate neutrality, circular economy) no longer warrants just an outline of policy, but rather a combination of different interventions, to make people change their way of doing things. The same goes for Health Care, Integration etc. Finding solutions in these domains will require help from different parties in society.
From Civic Participation to Government Participation
Civic Participation, which has become a topic for many councils since King Willem-Alexander’s First ‘Troonrede’, did not work out as expected. Many civic initiatives never get implemented because of mistrust. Citizens apparently do not want to cooperate with the council’s political agenda.
The other way around, Government Participation, in which the government cooperates with initiatives from citizens and in which citizens take the lead, is more viable. When people start their own initiatives, a sense of ownership envelops. This is a huge indicator of continuity and gives councils an opportunity to come along side and develop long-lasting cooperation.
In this domain 7Senses can help city councils greatly. In Government Participation the council is dependent on specific initiatives from its citizens. After all, only when an initiative is developed, cooperation can occur. But the council need not sit back and wait. Councils can play an active role in developing initiatives.
Leverage in realising council policy
The methodology that 7Senses uses– Participatory Action Research, a specific form of action research– is eminently suitable for developing initiatives within the policies of city councils. A council will be able to start processes in the community that fit the goals a council has set itself, by directing the dialogue as to which themes the community discusses, without directing the outcome of this dialogue. By cooperating with the initiatives that have started in this manner–on the basis of autonomy and equality–councils create leverage in realising policy.
How does 7Senses support city councils?
7Senses helps councils to start autonomous movements amongst citizens, creating leverage in realising council policy. 7Senses’ services are aimed at developing knowledge and experience within councils, thus increasing efficiency in bringing about co-creation among all stakeholders in the local community.
7Senses supports councils in the following:
7Senses acts as a sparring partner for councils that want to start co-creating with the local community. 7Senses knows like no other– from its national and international experience– in which domains opportunities are, on what to focus and generally how to go about it.
Public talks, training and education
7Senses is highly experienced in training and educating people in action research, specifically focused on bringing about co-creation in communities. The training will be done by very experienced action researchers and others with specific expertise (e.g. training actress).
The training is best done alongside a practical project, because experience is the best teacher!
Mentoring action research
7Senses is also available for mentoring a project on the basis of Participatory Action Research, to bring about co-creation for a specific subject in the local community. 7Senses ideally would love to work with people from the council and/or its partners. In this way, 7Senses helps develop knowledge and experience on a local level.