Call for Radical Reframing

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Revision as of 14:27, 15 June 2016 by No Academy (talk | contribs)

Author: Paul Gofferjé

Program: Radical Reframing Identity and Integration (RRII)

‘How to understand and reframe radicalization’


Together with 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/ artists manifest themselves not in a finished "product" or a cosmetic solution, but in unexpected conversations, platforms, relationships and knowledge.

Many 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 the old frames.

The 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

Phasing and initial results

The program is implemented in five phases. The first one was a briefing to our social design teams, participating academics and artists/designers, as well as stakeholders (‘city professionals’) from the field about the theory of ‘Frame Creation’. We have now finished the second phase, in which our social design teams have set up field labs. From there, they undertook activities to gain the confidence of city professionals, learn from their insight and experience and identify current themes related to radicalization. Some of the interesting themes discovered during the second phase were:

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 and this creates confusion if they are not recognized and understood. What do the concepts of vulnerability and defence in networks stand for?

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 family or neighbourhood is very important because they are real, they provide true support and their success is more likely to be achievable also for the young people who are in the process of creating their own identity.

The third phase, which will be concluded by the end of August 2016, concentrates on further examining these and other underlying themes.