Productive Margins

white poster with text saying no to Tesco in Stokes Croft Bristol communities out in Portland Square, Bristol, as part of a University of Bristol event The community protests against the closure of Tower Colliery A community group gathers around a table to discuss local issues

Community engagement needs radical re-design. All too often decision-making is top-down and decision makers do not adequately engage, deeming ‘community engagement’ a passive exercise. Communities are often only invited to comment on decisions which have already been made. Leaving isolated and excluded communities feeling even more powerless, adding to the dislocation between politicians and the electorate.

Starting life in April 2013, the Productive Margins: Regulating for Engagement research programme is a co-production venture comprising community organisations and social enterprises in Bristol and South Wales and academics from the University of Bristol and Cardiff University.

A five year project, the aim is to co-produce new forms of engagement in decision-making, not just across politics and policy but also the arts.

Who are we?

The voluntary sector organisations involved are: 3G’s Development Trust, Building the Bridge, Coexist, Deaf Access Cymru, Gwent Association of Voluntary Organisations (GAVO), Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC), SPAN (Single Parent Action Network), the Southville Centre and Southville Community Development Association (SCDA).

The academics involved have expertise in law, arts, humanities, education and the social sciences.

What are the research questions?

This new and exciting programme of research asks:

How do we meet?

We have set up the Productive Communities Research Forum where academics and communities come together to determine the research agenda, then design research projects together.

What are we researching?

There are three main themes:

If you want to find out more...

Further information about the project can be found in the case for support (PDF, 716kB).

Please contact the Productive Margins Research Team via 

Cardiff University logo         University of Bristol logo


Productive Margins is supported by:
ESRC logo        Connected Communities logo

Images from top: Daniel Oliver Photography, Dave Pratt, Janice Lane, Sally Ryde