This report looks at exploring power in Big Local partnerships and Big Local, a resident-led, place-based programme. It explores how decisions are made, by and with whom and in what contexts. It considers how particular ideas gather appeal, how some voices are heard more than others and importantly, identifies ways to strengthen decision making.
We carried out the research with the University of Kent during the COVID-19 pandemic, and witnessed how the move to online decision making has disrupted partnerships’ internal working cultures and created new opportunities for inclusivity.
Among the findings we discovered that community power operates in different ways across decision making processes and that this is influenced by unexpected factors.
We tend to think about decisions regarding the final moments in which they are settled rather
than recognising the ‘micro decisions’ that carve paths towards them. Exploring power in Big Local partnerships has revealed that the way that power operates, therefore, is not always open and visible.
An online comic has been designed alongside this report to visually demonstrate inclusivity and invisibility in decision making and how power and knowledge operate in community meetings. Here are a few excerpts to give you a taster of what the comic has to offer.