How can power and leadership be shared in social participation of ART? 

A recent Q&A session at De La Salle University was part of a series of public lectures and classroom workshops in honor of the distinguished professorship of Hilary Bradbury. A faculty member/ social scientist asks about how action research deals with inevitable issues of power. In response Hilary highlights the importance of “the three great matters under the surface of ART, namely power, leadership, and inquiry.”
Increasingly we live in a world in which political figures are voted in to “fix” everything. At a time of growing complexity, this simple fix doesn’t work. It’s costly too as it draws attention away from the longer term approaches we need today. In other words, our shared reality has become much too interdependent to allow us to keep working with old fashioned power-over and non collaborative approaches. As ARTists we therefore show a different way. We aim to (slowly) replace “power over” by working toward “power with.” We choose social flourishing over war.  Yep, it’s not so simple! We also have to learn and practice how to share power. The design of the relational space is really important in this, so too knowledge of ourselves and our own trigger points. ART calls us to work together at our best, with one another, even when we’re struggling and feeling our sense of security threatened.  The practice as ARTists therefore calls a lot of attention to the practice together of the great matters of power, leadership and inquiry.
As researchers it’s helpful to measure our patterns around power, collaboration and inquiry. Then we see how they change over time, with our choosing to practice in fresh ways. Assessments can help with revealing our patterns. One is available from Shifting Horizons.
“We need to re-think, not abolish, power and leadership and grow ourselves with pro-social versions, updating our capacity…with one another. Now we are really doing action research transformation! Because I am transforming myself with you.”