The System Doesn’t Work

In many communities in Greater Manchester, traditional ways of getting involved in politics including voting engage only the minority. The 2017 election of Greater Manchester’s first Mayor, for example, attracted a turnout of only 27%. Low and declining levels of formal political participation have caused much concern. This Jam and Justice project engaged with this debate from the starting point that focusing on apathy limits our understanding of why people may not engage in politics; and, that looking only at formal political participation may miss out important forms of everyday politics in Greater Manchester.

Read what our community researchers discovered about "Everyday Politics":

Wider research identifies ‘everyday makers’ as an important new form of everyday politics. By ‘everyday maker’, we mean people who get involved in local and concrete projects with a DIY-ethos, which make a real difference to people’s lives and the benefit the local community. Everyday makers are well-known, well-networked and trusted in their communities, working either as part of a community-led action group or by themselves, but they are not connected with formal politics.

Starting from an understanding that politics is not limited to formal processes, The System Doesn’t Work project put everyday makers at the heart of politics in our city-region. In order to better understand, value and make visible everyday politics in Greater Manchester, over six months, this project sought to:

  • Identify and work with a diverse group of everyday makers from Greater Manchester
  • Conduct an action research project using an innovative visual method, photovoice, including individual interviews and a collective analysis workshop
  • Curate a community exhibition to share our findings
  • Offer opportunities for community conversations

The resulting Everyday Politics exhibition has toured community centres in and around Greater Manchester. (See the events pages.) A companion booklet can be downloaded on this website.

If you have questions about this Jam and Justice project, email our ARC members: Catherine Durose, Sarah Whitehead and Amanda Bickerton.

News, events and blog

More than sixty people gathered at the Ziferblat event space in Manchester’s Northern Quarter to celebrate the publication of the report, How can we govern cities differently? The promise and practices of co-production.

An Evening with Jam and Justice - How can we govern cities differently? (Banner image)
Wednesday, July 3, 2019 - 17:30 to 20:00
Ziferblat, Edge Street, Manchester, M4 1HW

The Jam and Justice Action Research Collective will be sharing what we have learned and celebrating the outcomes of our projects in Greater Manchester.

On 26 March 2019, the Jam and Justice team collaborated with the National Association for Neighbourhood Management (NANM) to run a "treasure hunt" in Greater Manchester, exploring findings from Jam and Justice through a direct encounter with community projects. Ben Lee of NANM reports on the event.

Jam and Justice action researcher Sarah Whitehead (photo c/o Salford Now)

Last week, Jam and Justice ARC member Sarah Whitehead was in Gothenburg, “looking at how communities, academics and businesses work together to produce solutions to the issues in communities.” The trip meant missing the Spirit of Salford award ceremony (where Sarah was nominated for Citizen of the Year), so we wanted to share some extracts from Salford Now's profile of Sarah & her work, as reported by Yann Robinson (14 March 2019).

Dan and Pete unveil the Everyday Politics exhibition at the People's History Museum, Manchester

“There are some obvious things that people can do to participate in politics - voting, standing for election, joining a political party, or responding to consultation. But what about the less formal ways that people participate?”

Photographs from the Everyday Politics exhibition
Monday, January 7, 2019 - 12:00
The Beacon Community Centre, Salford

Discover “Everyday Politics” on display from Monday 7th January.

“There are some obvious things that people can do to participate in politics - voting, standing for election, joining a political party, or responding to consultation. But what about the less formal ways that people participate?”

Monday, June 11, 2018 - 12:00 to 13:30
Manchester Central Library

Devolution promised to open up new opportunities for community engagement and empowerment, shifting power from Whitehall to the Townhall. One year on since the election of Andy Burnham as Mayor of Greater Manchester, Jam and Justice's Action Research Collective are hosting a debate in Manchester Central Library to discuss the changing horizons of collective decision-making in Greater Manchester.