Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance
The Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance (CCIG) is a University designated Centre of Research Excellence
Public engagement is a key concern for CCIG. Through our wide-ranging research activities we aim to work as a catalyst for the creation of new publics that drive social change and enrich our collective life.
Publics are groups of people who come together to bring about social, economic, cultural or technological change. They are vital because, without them, many local, global, private or inter-personal concerns would not be owned, represented or considered collectively. For example, without publics assembling around issues of environmental sustainability, global trade justice or proposed changes to UK forest management it is unlikely that they would have been pushed to the top of the political agenda.
Our approach is distinctive and unconventional because it treats publics as diverse rather than uniform, dynamic rather than static and unpredictable rather than predictable. We also recognise that publics emerge and are sustained through interaction and exchange. So our work in this area is experimental, bringing together expertise from different areas and making full use of both old media (such as press and broadcast) and new technologies (such as web platforms).
We believe our approach to public engagement is truly innovative; by creating new publics we work to intervene in social change in relevant ways, bringing real benefits to citizens, governing organisations and pubic life, in all their varied manifestations.
CCIG now has a dedicated research project, Creating Publics. The Creating Publics project looks afresh at how research can play a role in the mediation and generation of publics. It is inspired by contemporary research into the dynamics of public formation and the proliferation of innovative forms of public mediation. Between 2011-2014 this project will explore and test-out more horizontal and interactive ways of relating social science research and public practices.
Additionally, examples below highlight just some of the different ways that CCIG's public engagement work is being realised.
The Bisexuality Report, led by Meg Barker (Senior Lecturer in Psychology, OU), Rebecca Jones (Lecturer, Health & Social Care, OU), Christina Richards, Helen Bowes-Catton & Tracey Plowman (of BiUK) is the first of its kind in the UK.
This project was jointly supported by the Department of Geography and CCIG at The Open University. This Research Synthesis funded by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement and the Economic and Social Research Council, involves investigating the uses of market segmentation technologies and other segmentation practices for the purposes of public engagement.
The ALP was focused on issues of well-being in the Coffee Hall neighbourhood of Milton Keynes and was funded by the Department of Communities and Local Government.
In 2006 Kirstie Ball and five colleagues from the UK and Canada successfully tendered to write a report on the Surveillance Society for the UK Government’s Information Commissioners Office (ICO). The completed report was presented at the 2006 ICO Annual Conference in London which was attended by data protection and privacy regulators from around the world.
Janet Newman's long standing engagement with policy and public service recently led to her joining The New Synthesis project. Initiated by the former head of the civil service in Canada this draws together policymakers, practitioners and some academics across Canada, Brazil, Singapore, the Netherlands, Austrailia and the UK.
The ENACT (Enacting European Citizenship) project highlights ways in which the scope, content and perception of European citizenship is shaped by the complex ways in which citizenship is enacted, within, across and beyond member states.
Jane McCarthy's research focuses on families and relationships, and in recent years this has included relationships at the end of life.
Kath Woodward's research looks at the contradictions of the Olympic movement. At one level this movement is democratic and inclusive, yet the history of the games is marked by elitism and corruption. Kath has drawn on this research when contributing to the British Library Summer Games Website.
Meg Barker's research on the bisexual community, particularly in the UK has led to Meg setting up, with colleagues from inside and outside the OU, the biennial BiReCon event. BiReCon stands for both Bisexual Research Conference and also Bisexuality Reconnaissance.
Nick Mahony's research investigates contemporary popular democratic cultures as they are emerging across and in-between governmental, social movement, arts, popular media and industrial domains. The Experimental Democracy Console is a repository of popular democratic experiments.