Research team: Zsófia Ádám, Cili Lohász, Máté Lukács, Melinda Mihály, Zóra Molnár, Annajuli Rosenfeld, Bernadett Sebály, Tessza Udvarhelyi, Zsuzsa Vass, Miklós Zsámboki
The School of Public Life is a community-based training, research and development center that develops democratic culture in Hungary 1) by improving the citizenship skills of people living in social exclusion, 2) supporting social movements and groups that fight for social justice, 3) pursuing participatory and community-based research about social exclusion and democracy, and 4) supporting the strategic planning of social justice organizations. The School engages in participatory action research that supports the work of social movements and organizations working for social change. In the following, we will introduce our most recent participatory action research project.
The participatory action research project titled “The history and future of our struggles” started in January 2020 in Budapest, Hungary. Its original goal was to find out what we can learn from Hungarian social movements after the regime change in 1989/1990 and how contemporary struggles can benefit from this knowledge. However, the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic brought many challenges for our group and we had to make some decisions regarding our operation. We not only had to move all of our work online, but it was also important to our group members to connect with and react directly to the processes happening around us at the moment. In the end, we have agreed that our main research question will be the following: “What political opportunities does the COVID 19 pandemic create for grassroots initiatives, and how can they use these in the long run?”
As members of our research team are interested in different aspects of this complex topic, we have created three working groups: one of them focuses on the role of civic actors who got involved in municipal politics after the 2019 municipal elections, the second one studies grassroots alliances launched during the pandemic, and third group analyzes the pandemic as a political opportunity. While the working groups have developed their own research plans, they regularly share their progress with each other and learn from each other’s experiences.