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Power, roles and adding value: reflecting on the challenges of bridging across research and action on an international community networking project

Gaved, Mark; Calderón Lüning, Elizabeth; Unteidig, Andreas; Davies, Gareth and Stevens, James (2019). Power, roles and adding value: reflecting on the challenges of bridging across research and action on an international community networking project. In: Proceedings of the 17th CIRN Conference 2019, Monash University, Prato, Italy.

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The three year EU-funded MAZI research project ( brought together universities, civil society organizations, and neighbourhood groups to design, develop and trial a digital toolkit for supporting local sustainability in four European countries. Funder constraints, partner ambitions and community needs had to be balanced to both adhere to academic research protocols while making a difference in the neighbourhoods where research and action took place. These sometimes conflicting ambitions caused partners to continuously question whose agendas were best being served by the project activities. They had to confront asymmetries of power, capacity, and credibility both within the consortium and within the community settings. Local circumstances changed; partners had to negotiate new, unfamiliar, and changing roles; and guises had to be adopted to progress sometimes conflicting ambitions.
In this paper, we report on the challenges encountered in two of the pilot locations, Berlin and London. These two pilots were similar as they consisted at the outset of a university partner previously unconnected to the locality, working with a civil society partner that was deeply embedded in the setting though long-term engagement. In both cases, the pairings sought to work closely together both on the ground and in research tasks. Finding acceptable compromises stimulated considerable self-reflection and required ongoing negotiation. We offer insights on the potentials and pitfalls of civil society activists and academic researchers collaborating within a research framework from the perspectives of both, with the goal of building a bridge of understanding between these two viewpoints.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item
Copyright Holders: 2019 CIRN Conference
Project Funding Details:
Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
MAZINot SetEC (European Commission): FP(inc.Horizon2020, H2020, ERC)
Keywords: community informatics, agency, guises, transdisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity, collective learning, politics-in-practice
Academic Unit/School: Institute of Educational Technology (IET)
Other Departments > Research and Academic Strategy
Other Departments
Research Group: Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET)
Related URLs:
Item ID: 68055
Depositing User: Mark Gaved
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2019 09:34
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2020 10:24
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