How to design and carry out Social Labs in the context of analyzing and preventing extremism?
We are thrilled to introduce Social Labs, an innovative holistic approach to co-create findings, tools and solutions toward the analysis and intervention in the field of extremism, polarization and radicalization. Within the framework of the PARTICIPATION project, Social Labs are central spaces for the analysis of existing experiences and the formulation of future actions and activities to promote the uptake of social inclusion as a key factor to address radicalization.
What are Social Labs?
Since the definition of the concept by Zaid Hassan in 2014, Social Labs have distinguished from the other methodologies for their core characteristics:
- they are social because they address complex social challenges;
- they are experimental because they offer a real-life environment within which social experiments can be carried out;
- they are systemic because of the level on which they aim to solve issues (Hassan 2014).
Social Labs in PARTICIPATION
We imagine Social Labs as potentially highly beneficial as an innovative method to address radicalization.
The Social Labs will increase the quality and quantity of knowledge around radicalization and its causes and point to different ways forward. Social Labs also represent a more participatory approach to problem resolution.
The aim is to increase awareness of innovative ideas that support:
- the prevention of radicalization;
- the sorts of difficulties encountered in co-designing new strategies to overcome such challenges;
- as well as contributing to the resilience of individuals and their communities as well.
We are testing how far Social Labs are an effective means of bringing together end-users and practitioners, by directly involving them in the design and in-depth process of countermeasures.
Who will be part of Social Labs?
Our Social Labs approach foresees the involvement of multiple stakeholders as an integral part of tackling social challenges in different contexts. The path of creation, fostering and sustainability of Social Labs will involve different groups of actors across three different contexts, such as municipalities, schools, and religious communities. In each case, Social Lab managers will need to identify and involve key actors from different backgrounds, with different types of expertise, knowledge, or experience on the subject of radicalization.
Social Labs typically include various participants, from social lab managers and facilitators to researchers and participants with different backgrounds, expertise and interests.
In our case, young people will be a key demographic, alongside other stakeholders such as teachers, religious leaders, youth workers, policymakers, police officers, parents. Within the Social Lab, social interventions are co-designed by the participants and then tested within host organizations.
Social Labs: a shared participatory methodology for fieldwork
The Social Lab methodology not only builds upon the experiences and best practices of prior projects but contributes to the discussion regarding the value of the social lab methodology by
- designing an approach that is suited to the digital environment in which some of the labs will be conducted;
- extending the application of the approach to the field of radicalization research.
We are glad to present Social Labs: a shared participatory methodology for fieldwork.
The Manual, now is available for download on our website! It serves as a guide to the process of creating and maintaining Social Labs, and has been compiled in as clear and straightforward a way as possible, providing helpful hints and activity ideas, additional resources, and examples.
- describes the philosophy and development of the social lab method;
- explores the roles and responsibilities of those involved in the Social Labs
- provides examples of specific activities that can be implemented across online/offline/hybrid formats.
PARTICIPATION is a research and innovation project that unites 15 partners in one effort to analyze and prevent radicalization aiming at increasing awareness of at-risk demographics and encouraging resilience through preventative, countering, and de-radicalization approaches. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 962547
Date of project: 01/12/2020 – 01/12/2023
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