ARTICLES How would you visualise civil society?

Visual map of civil society

How would you visualise civil society?

What is civil society? It’s so many things we do together and for each other, from churches to charities, fluid online movements like #metoo to established local groups. How do you even make sense of it all?

The Civil Society Futures team and panel have developed the visualisation above during one of our sessions together in Oldham. It is an attempt to represent civil society – to see on one page the vast spectrum of different groups, organisations and networks, formal and informal, that we have encountered over the last year. It’s mapped using the multi level perspective.

But this is only one way of doing it of course.

The size of the bubbles is not scientific, it is based on how often we have encountered each group or person through the first year of the inquiry.  You could redraw it so that the different sizes represent membership and affiliation, perceptions of power, revenue, time of formation, the year something started – or something else?  Have you found another way of visualising or mapping civil society or do you have ideas for new approaches?

We have found this a useful tool for prompting conversations with people and we are interested to see how you might like to use this visualisation or how you would draw this. If you’re in a community, does it help you to uncover different people in your area you’re not already connected to? If you’re a local authority or CVS does it help you look at who you do and don’t currently work with? Is there another way this could help you?

We would love to know your thoughts. Please do add your feedback in the comments below or email us at [email protected] and [email protected]