Identifying the right solutions - communities driving the agenda
‘Community-led action research is not research for the sake of it, to prove a theory or to satisfy the curious. It is about people asking their own questions about the issues they experience, getting the information and evidence they need and testing actions for change.'
On 9 June, a group of people from community organisations, non-government organisations, funding bodies, academia and Scottish Government met to talk about action research as a process and a tool for influencing new ways in which decisions are reached about our collective futures.
The subject for discussion focused on how communities and community organisations might be supported to conduct their own inquiries into the issues that affect them, and how they might be supported to use their own evidence to influence change.
Drawing on the experience of past action research programmes, and the experience in the room, it was agreed that any future action research support resource needs to have the following features at its core:
- An explicit focus on redressing the power imbalances at play in local and national decision making processes through supporting the voices of those least heard
- A long term vision for change in how we make decisions, and what evidence counts
- The embedding of community led action research across systems and across policy areas - not just another ‘programme'
- Integrity of process, and equity of all partners
- Collaboration across sectors, with a role for stewardship by community organisations and ordinary citizens
- A commitment to the idea of ‘unlearning' what we think we know, starting instead from real and lived experiences
- A focus on continuous shared learning and a collective approach to change at strategic and systems levels
One of the outcomes of the discussion was a commitment by participants to meet again in autumn of this year to engage in a co-design process for a national support resource. Between now and then we aim to keep gathering ideas and grow support for community led action research in Scotland.
As part of this discussion SCDC has produced a report which examines how action resarch has developed, where it is now and its how it could be used by communities across Scotland.