Urban Governance and Social Innovation

Forum theatre as participatory action research with community workers


In Amsterdam, just like in 87 % of all municipalities in the Netherlands, integrated neighbourhood teams have been installed as an answer to the reform of the welfare state. During the last decade, the social domain has gone through its strongest change since 1945. Transitions by new national acts and policies have gone hand in hand with decentralisation, which has transferred most responsibilities in the social domain to municipalities, accompanied by less financial means. On the local level, these changes have been translated by municipalities into policies, responsibilities, interventions, and a repertoire that requires strong changes in the professional behaviour of all stakeholders. One of the newly implemented practices consists of interdisciplinary neighbourhood teams focussed on empowerment of people or families who are dealing with multiple challenges in their lives. Professionals from elder care, youth care, community development, and welfare organisations need to collaborate while they attempt to reconcile various professional perspectives on a specific problematic situation. At the same time, there is a shift for many professionals from solving problems for clients towards empowering the clients to solve problems themselves, based on their own strengths or their network. Most of the structural transitions and implementations might be finished; however, the transformation in professional behaviour following these changes, is just starting to develop. Despite a series of training courses in various methods, the Amsterdam neighbourhood team professionals strongly felt a need to deepen their experiences with situations in which the contact with a client or family had somehow stagnated.

Reference de Kreek, M., Bos, E., & von Salisch, M. (2022). Forum theatre as participatory action research with community workers. In E. Huss, & E. Bos (Eds.), Social Work Research Using Arts-Based Methods (pp. 139-147). (Research in Social Work). Policy Press.
1 January 2022

Publication date

Jan 2022


Eltje Bos
Margareta von Salisch


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