Jam and Justice: co-producing urban governance for social innovation (2016-2019)

Lead academic: Dr Catherine Durose
Academic partners: Professor Beth Perry (University of Sheffield), Liz Richardson (University of Manchester)
Non-academic partners: Alex Whinnom (Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisations)
Funding: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Urban Transformations Programme


Cities are sites of crisis and opportunity. In a context of rapid social change and austerity, the effectiveness of traditional systems of urban governance is in doubt. Jam and Justice: Co-Producing Urban Governance for Social Innovation aims to create a unique space for social innovation to co-produce, test and learn from new ways of governing cities. ‘Jam’ is about trying to bring together different partners in the city to experiment and innovate to address shared problems. ‘Justice’ is about re-connecting with those who have been disenfranchised and excluded from the search for solutions.

Through the development of an Action Research Cooperative (ARC) in Greater Manchester, the project aims to bring together academics, practitioners, citizens and political leaders to exchange knowledge and develop creative responses to emerging urban governance challenges. In addition to a series of ‘learn and do’ activities to generate primary data, the project will also promote live debates, online communities and learning exchange visits within the UK and internationally. These activities will enable critical reflection on how to organise knowledge better to make positive urban transformations happen that are inclusive and equitable.

Project aims and objectives

The impact from Jam and Justice will be conceptual, re-thinking the nature of contemporary urban governance, emphasising governing processes, the role of intermediaries in urban transformations and re-orienting devolution to place-based capacity building.

Our work also coincides with the devolution settlement and reconfiguration of urban governance relationships in England and this research will influence the agenda and implementation of the pre- and post-devolution Greater Manchester. Relationships have already been forged with key protagonists – including through the development of a Local Authority Support Network, established with the support of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Chief Executives of the ten local authorities.

The emphasis on social innovation and experimentation in this research will provide strong impact on practice through a series of ten co-designed projects within the Action Research Co-operative (ARC) at the heart of the overall project. The project will also build capacity through training a cohort of practitioner-researchers in action research, reflexive practice and research methods. Working with them, we will be able to trial new public engagement mechanisms and trace how individuals take their learning back into their organisations. The project will ensure reach through its inclusion of non-academic partners, a social media and press strategy, an online database or ARChive and series of accessible events. Further, a Manifesto for Making Devolution Matter in Greater Manchester will be co-produced by the ARC and ThinkLab and accompanied by forward plan to ensure legacy.

More information

For further information about this project, please contact
Dr Catherine Durose (c.durose@bham.ac.uk).