Call for Radical Reframing

From Beyond Social

Author: Paul Gofferjé

Radical Reframing Identity and Integration

'Research program on how to understand and reframe radicalization'

Together with the Designing Out Crime research centre (Sydney), the University of Technology Sydney and the Hague University, No Academy implements the research program Radical Reframing Identity and Integration (RRII). The program focuses on radicalization among young people. This problem has many forms and barely receives appropriate answers. Why do young people do what they do, why do they derail and what counter-strategies could we come up with? How can we better understand the underlying emotions such as anger, frustration and a sense of exclusion?

About the program

The RRII program is conducted in three cities: Arnhem and The Hague, and (to compare internationally) in Sydney, Australia. In each city, a team of young artists works under the guidance of experienced 'social' designers: artists who are used to deal with social problems.

Feelings of frustration and exclusion are the result of social processes. Researching these processes is at the heart of our program. The goal is not so much solving radicalization among young people, but to create a whole new perspective on the problematic situation itself. The program aims to link the creativity and imagination of designers and artists to the craftsmanship of city professionals (eg. police officers and youth workers), and to develop a more imaginative, connecting and empathic way of "positive communication" on this subject.

Our method

Unlike many social designers who focus on participation or making products for a specific, location-based context (community art), the designers/ artists in our RRII program concentrate on research into human and social themes: the values, emotions, processes, interactions and communications that underlie the problem (de-framing). Following this study, carried out from a field lab, they set strategies and interventions that lead to new interaction or rearrangement of existing systems (re-framing). Our designers and artists manifest themselves not in a finished "product" or a cosmetic solution, but in unexpected conversations, platforms, relationships and knowledge.

These interventions will be conceived in cooperation with and within the repertoire of city professionals. Within new frames, experiments will take place with specific interventions, that can give a new impetus to thinking and doing. During the program such interventions are mainly assessed by the extent to which they are able to foster dialogue between parties or between different value systems. The projects include analysis, reflection, observation, translation, imagination and interventions that are not obvious within old frames of looking at and dealing with radicalization.

Our method is based on the 9-step plan by Kees Dorst (University of Technology Sydney), which forms the core of his "Frame Creation" model:

analyzing the history of the problem owner & of the initial problem formulation
analyzing the problem situation: what makes this hard?
analyzing the inner circle of stakeholders
exploring the broader field
investigating the themes that emerge in the broader field
identifying patterns between the themes to create frames
exploring the possible outcomes and value propositions for the various stakeholders
investigating the change in stakeholder's strategies and practices required for implementation
drawing lessons from the new approach & identifying new opportunities within the network

Program phases

The curriculum of the RRII program consists of five phases.
Phase 1 Frame Creation crash course: briefing and explanation of the program and the Frame Creation model. Introduction of all participants of the program such as design experts (senior researchers), No Academy students (junior researchers), participating academics and city professionals (stakeholders from the field).
Phase 2 De-framing: archeology, research of themes, setting up field labs and development of relevant relations.
Phase 3 Re-framing: from themes to frames, searching for new directions in solutions and interventions.
Phase 4 Designing: from frames to new interventions.
Phase 5 Last round: new opportunities, what changes have taken place in the practice of all participants as a result of the re-framing and interventions?

Initial program results

At this moment social design teams have set up the field labs and are building relationships with city professionals by undertaking activities to gain trust. They want to learn from insights and experiences of the city professionals and identify underlying themes related to radicalization. Some of the interesting themes that have been identified as a starting point for re-framing:

The theme of feeling 'displaced'
Moslima's seem to feel safe, accepted and connected in their local network (in their neighbourhood, at school) but 'displaced' as soon as they enter larger and more anonymous networks, such as social media. Social media confronts them with very judgmental comments on their personality, identity and culture, to which they have no defence system. Different types of networks have different underlying value systems that create confusion if they are not recognized and understood.

The empowerment theme
We may tend to see young people who turn away from our society as victims of exclusion and frustration. It seems that this is not the right way to approach them. On the contrary, they should be empowered to recognize their strength and value and take their responsibility.

The role model theme
What is the added value of role models in the immediate surroundings of young people, as opposed to famous role models in sports or politics? It seems that personal acquaintance with role models from their family or neighbourhood is very important because they are real, they provide true support and their success is more likely to be attainable for young people. These role models will contribute to the process of creating an identity.

The third phase, which will be concluded by the end of August 2016, concentrates on further examining these and other underlying themes. By the end of 2016 we hope to have undertaken all five phases. The whole process as well as relevant context articles and projects, will be published in the third issue of Beyond Social.

Call for Radical Reframing
For the next issue of Beyond Social we’re looking for theoretical and artistic contributions that shed new light on radicalization, reframing and/or artistic ways to intervene in these processes in order to learn from each other. How to design interventions addressing underlying causes of radicalization? Within different cultures and contexts radicalization among young people is increasing. Reframing is a promising design-method to deal with complex issues. Can radicalization be reframed? Can we intervene in its underlying social processes like exclusion, frustration and anger? The goal is not so much to solve radicalization, but to create a whole new perspective on the situation itself. Feel free to contribute & upload your content before December 2016!

RRII team

Kees Dorst is a professor of Design Innovation at the University of Technology, Sydney and the Eindhoven University of Technology. He is the Executive Director of the Design Innovation research centre and also leads the Designing Out Crime research centre in Sydney. He has published numerous articles and five books – most recently: 'Frame Innovation'(2015) and 'Designing for the Common Good' (2016) for MIT Press.

Dick Rijken is the director of STEIM and professor at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. He also works as an independent consultant in the field of digital culture and new media and is a policy advisor for the Dutch government and for the EU. His primary interest is the changing role of culture in western society. He looks at information systems as cultural products and investigates how traditional cultural players such as broadcasters and museums can redefine their role in our emerging network society.

Paul Gofferjé is an artist, photographer, professor at the University of the Arts Utrecht, and co-founder and coordinator of the No Academy, a post academic program for social design. His main interest is to develop new programs for young artists and designers, who want to have real impact in society.

Eefje Cobussen has worked in several youth care organisations as a developmental psychologist. Now she's focused on research in the Social Design Lab, part of The Hague University of Applied Science, where she also teaches at the Faculty of Social Work and Education. She has a deep interest in human development: youth care, teaching, drama and research are fields in which she explores how people interact and how they give meaning to their lifeworld.

Martine Zoeteman is an architect and writer and founder of STADvogels, an architecture studio for research and design. The role of architecture and urbanism in daily life is central in her work, with a specific interest in the interrelation between the design, the use and the experience of public space. Both in her research and design projects she explores the possibilities of physical space as medium for social interaction.

No Academy website

The program Radical Reframing is supported by Stichting DOEN, the municipalities of The Hague and Arnhem and the Ministry of Safety and Justice.