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Tuesday, August 4 • 14:30 - 15:00
Community Self-Organisation; How to Make it more Effective?

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Communities are parts of larger social contexts that may inhibit or support their satisfactory self-organisation. Members of a community share to different degrees common interests, such as housing services, sports facilities, good quality environment or indeed myriad of other concerns. For all these interest they need to organise themselves to achieve collectively what individually they are unable to achieve.

Community agents constitute these situations. Shared interests trigger communications among them and between them and public, third sectors and private services. Agents form networks and the focus of this contribution is on the characteristics and quality of their relations. The evolution of these relations is by and large the outcome of self-organisation; it is not difficult to understand that their complexity makes it is difficult if not impossible to plan them. They need enabling, and support. Agents can enable their self-organisation through their own resources and creativity or through the support of external agents, such researchers, NGOs, government agencies, private trusts, philanthropy or others forms of support. Accepting that self-organisation is inherent to the complexity of social processes, the challenge for us is to work out how to make these self-organising processes more effective. How can citizens of a community improve the quality of their own interactions? How can these citizens co-create desirable values in their interactions with external enablers, such as organisation and policy-makers? 

For instance, the impact of a policy in a community may be skewed in the benefit of those citizens that are better prepared articulate their needs. Better education and competencies make them more visible an influential to Government agencies, which require organised citizens in order to direct their resources and achieve better policy performance. Resources are more likely to be directed towards the citizens with more self-organising capabilities, at the expense of those with fewer competencies. In these circumstances local self-organisation may be precisely in the detriment of those in more need (Espejo and Mendiwelso-Bendek, 2011).  Well intentioned policies may end up increasing operational imbalances within the community to the detriment of justice and fairness. In practice this requires that additionally to implementing services such as education, health, housing and so forth, it is necessary to consider policies enabling balanced self-organisation in the community, aiming at community members with similar participatory strengths regardless of their history, race or gender.  It is necessary redressing imbalances in communities’ self-organisation. This approach may improve not only self-organisation within the community but also the quality of this community’s relations with those organisations creating, regulating and producing policies relevant to them. In summary it is necessary to improve self-organisation processes within community groups at the same time of improving the community’s influence in value co-creation with relevant external agents. The latter imply self-organising process that often highlights imbalances in power relations (Mayo, Mendiwelso-Bendek and Packham, 2013, p237-8). However, in this contribution our main focus is on exploring aspects of self-organisation within communities to highlight strategies to overcome imbalances in participatory processes.  


Espejo, R, Mendiwelso-Bendek, Z. (2011) An argument for active citizenship and organisational transparency, in Kybernetes Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 477-493

Mayo M, Mendiwelso-Bendek Z and Packham C (2013) Eds and authors. Community Research as Community Development, Palgrave ISBN-13: 978-1137034731

avatar for Mag. Stefan Blachfellner

Mag. Stefan Blachfellner

SIG Chair: Socio-Ecological Systems and Design, Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science
avatar for Prof. Liss C. Werner

Prof. Liss C. Werner

Principal, Architect, Tactile Architecture - office für Systemarchitektur
Prof. Liss C. Werner is a registered architect based in Berlin and founder of Tactile Architecture – Office for SystemArchitektur.  She is adj. assoc. Professor at Taylor’s University near Kuala Lumpur, Dr. phil. [abd] and  George N. Pauly, Jr. Fellow 2012/13, visiting professor... Read More →


Tuesday August 4, 2015 14:30 - 15:00 CEST
Copenhagen 1 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

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