Vol. 4:2 (1999) ► pp.153–180
Multiple Voices of Democracy in a Cosmopolis
This article describes an action research process to solve problems of democracy in neighborhoods in a modern European city. A relational constructionist approach has been used as the theoretical basis for this work. The methodological framework is based on action research, survey feedback and search conferences. The article begins by describing the historical and cultural context of democracy in the city. Special attention is paid to the development of the relationship between researchers and members of neighborhood associations on the one hand, and to the building of a mutual consensus on the problems, focus and methodology of action research on the other. Multiple voices of democracy start to make themselves heard in a process of data gathering and feedback. New futures and strategies for the associations were developed at a search conference. After the search conference had taken place new relationships were established in a communal dialogue with neighborhood councils. An evaluation of the process focuses on lessons learned by members of the associations in terms of strategy formulation; the establishment of relationships during the process; the multiple voices of democracy in a modern city; the effectiveness of the combination of a start up conference, survey feedback and search conference; and the way representative democracy can be improved in a relational process of social construction.