Research is an act of citizenship

The political value of knowledge

Research is an act of fundamental citizenship. When the Center for Generative Communication speaks of citizenship it does not refer to a condition of passive belonging to a State or community, but a way of thinking and acting that enables subjects to contribute actively, creatively, and freely to the conception, continuous planning and realization of the communities they decide to join.

In the ever more complex social, economic and cultural reality in which we live–where digitalization and the process of globalization are connecting everything and everyone to each other–the relationships between knowledge, advanced research, technology and specialization, on the one hand, and experiences and activities belonging to the sphere of everyday life, on the other, are destined to change radically.

Our reality is in continuous transformation, often against our will, because Man has developed systems and processes of transformation that are more powerful than any created in the past. The problem we are currently facing is that our ability to forecast their effects appears increasingly weak, limited, and unreliable; as are our design and control skills.

This criticality, with the consequent sensation of socio-economic, cultural and existential drift, can only be managed by fostering collaboration, cooperation and thus strengthening all those involved. Also a way of thinking and a way of working can enhance the knowledge of the natural and artificial world in which we are immersed.

 

We are talking about the relationship between scientia and usus; a relationship that must be based on the common goal of satisfying the ever-changing needs of individual citizens, as well as those of local organizations and institutions.

The ethical value of research

Important elements of knowledge are present in every manifestation of everyday life: from the most basic work that is apparently far-removed from research as it is traditionally understood  to what is institutionally identified as professional research activity.

Research is the task of scientists, but the intelligence and experience of ordinary people provide a pool of knowledge and trial and error that are no less important. Knowledge requires continuous collaboration between both scientists and non-scientists in order to write a common and freely-shared story.

This way of viewing knowledge is likely to radically upset the old idea that through targeted activities science expanded knowledge and that the occupation was reserved for a restricted group of individuals, geniuses from past and new generations, a recognized and rewarded elite social class.

If we do not want to be overwhelmed by this drifting a part and want to recover the profound social and political sense of research, we must analyze in depth what is knowledge and what is research, and  above all what is their relationship with everyday practices and needs.

From this point of view it becomes essential to reflect on the ethical and moral value of research and its application to the everyday context of people and communities.

The new alliance between scientia and usus

There’s an urgent need to elaborate a new research paradigm, the existence of which awaits discovery in every human activity, business, and organization from a perspective of great diversity in terms of roles, objectives, responsibilities. Today it is no longer sustainable (perhaps it hasn’t ever been) to think that there are those who produce knowledge and, then, those who are called to apply the discoveries in productive contexts or in social realities.

Conceiving, designing, implementing, experimenting, communicating and, finally, monitoring are not consequential phases of a linear process, strictly segmented watertight compartments in which the role of citizens is only as final consumers. When we embrace complex thought and the generative paradigm of communication, these become phases characterized by variable-weight compresence, where both those who institutionally deal with research and those who possess more operational knowledge are equal social actors.

The generative paradigm of communication offers an essential contribution to building this web of continuous interactions in a community-building perspective of sharing and participation.