“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?”
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 recent 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 engages 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.
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 is a research project that puts 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 worked 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