Friday, 19 February 2016

‘How can we create progressive and effective political participation?’

9-10 April 2016 | Kings College London
This conference brings together academics, political activists and community organisers to contribute to the working out of a question central to the current political climate: ‘how can we create progressive and effective political participation?’ From citizen engagement to radical collective action, the focus of the event is how ‘ordinary’ people can come together to collectively act upon and change their environment.
We are living in a time where conventional political processes are losing credibility and traction, as access to social justice is blocked by the capturing of the state by neoliberal forces. There are substantial academic and mainstream literatures on how states, governments and corporate organisations can act upon their citizens for their own ends. Yet there is a big gap in the knowledge of citizens on how to mobilise popular cultural and political participation.
The challenge is to create determined and conscious collective action, which can be effective, shared and scaled up. Left-wing alternatives are frequently discussed but these ideas often quickly stall as pragmatic processes remain under explored and are never fully envisaged. Too often well-intentioned thoughts fail to translate into action.
This event seeks to generate and share concrete knowledge of how bottom up radical political participation can succeed. It aims to reach out beyond the academy to bring people together to strategise, network and celebrate our collective potential to create a better world. It will bring together disparate knowledge to identify best practice. This will be done through a collective and deliberative process; identifying effective sequences and combinations of campaigning tactics and mechanisms, and a practical programme of radical political social change to move towards a truly democratic culture. The event seeks to challenge the established political class and provide a pre-figurative inspiration of popular deliberation to show that another world is possible.
Relevant topics will include:
• Participatory education
• Practice: the stories of actual existing politicised groups and communities
• Encouraging participation through accessible political language
• Participation through radical art and culture
• Opportunities and challenges of participatory organisation in the global city
• Political strategies and tactics for participatory mobilisation
• Radical media organisations and strategies
• Models of participatory organisation and political decision-making
In the spirit of creative innovation that characterises the content of the conference, the format of the event seeks to put into practice some of the models and procedures which will be discussed and advocated by its participants. For example, we will not have established academic keynote speakers in order to challenge the traditional hierarchy of conventional conferences. Panels will be comprised of academics, political activists and community organisers with an emphasis on diversity (geographical, ethnicity, gender and class etc). Panels will be followed by small discussion groups of 6-8 participants, with panel members joining in with the groups. Discussions will we raise the ideas and issues people found most interesting and relevant. Everybody will have the opportunity to speak and be heard, leading to more meaningful and participatory discussion. Notes will be taken from these discussion groups, so that ideas can be recorded and published online, and key points from discussion groups will be fed back to the wider group.

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