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Möckel, Fanny, 2020. The crucial role of the facilitator : analysing identity construction and dilemmas. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Urban and Rural Development



Facilitation is a practice with many areas of application: participatory planning, environmental governance and natural resource management are some areas with a high focus on facilitation. Within these different areas, the practice is supposed to empower citizens, revitalise democracy and tackle the sustainability challenge. With an increasing demand in participatory decision-making, planning and other citizens-based approaches, the demand for facilitation is growing, and so is research regarding the topic. Studies conducted on the field of facilitation have contributed to a better understanding of the practice.

However, while research is focusing heavily on involved actors in facilitation, the facilitators’ construction of identity remains under-explored. Previous research focusing on the facilitator identified practical dilemmas facilitators face by looking into deliberative theory. Yet, research on facilitation did not reveal how practitioners construct their identity in a process. This is essential since the role of a facilitator depends on differing ideas practitioners draw on when facilitating. Further, the idea of identity matters insofar as it guides the practitioners work during practicing. Therefore, it is problematic that we know little about how facilitators construct their identity.

This thesis addresses this knowledge gap by providing valuable insights into the lifeworld of facilitators in a natural resource management context. Interviews were conducted with practitioners and these are used as a foundation for the thesis. The study uncovers embedded ideas about identity practitioners draw on when facilitating. With the help of frame analysis, I identify underlying ideas and understandings facilitators draw on when constructing their identity.

The analysis brought forward four identity frames practitioners draw on when facilitating, whereas some practitioners draw on more than one frame in a facilitated process. The identified frames are an equality frame, authority frame, expert frame, and neutrality frame. Further, the identified frames yield a range of tensions facilitators face when practicing facilitation. First, the results show that there are conflicting identities embedded in facilitation practice. Moreover, tension among the equality and authority frame arise as practitioners are owners of the process using their authority to level out differences among participants while not dominating the process. In addition, facilitators face a dilemma of being experts in the field of facilitation (expert frame) while at the same time not acknowledging the groups’ desires (equality and neutrality frame). The thesis’ strength is the foundation of empirical material and has therefore a high practical value for the practice of facilitation.

This study then not only adds a better comprehension of how facilitators construct their identity, but also helps to understand how facilitators approach challenges within the practice of facilitation. Therefore, the thesis yields a contribution to the practical field of facilitation and additionally, adds empirical depth to theoretical work on deliberative democracy. Overall, the conducted frame analysis on interviews with facilitators reveals insights into the practice of facilitation. Thus, this thesis intends to create a basis for reflective practice for practitioners conducting facilitation.

Main title:The crucial role of the facilitator
Subtitle:analysing identity construction and dilemmas
Authors:Möckel, Fanny
Supervisor:Westin, Martin
Examiner:Calderon, Camilo
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2020
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:NM026 Environmental communication and management - Master's programme
Supervising department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
(LTJ, LTV) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
Keywords:facilitation, deliberation, facilitators identity, frames, dilemma, reflective practice, deliberative democracy, environmental communication, natural resource management
Permanent URL:
Subject. Use of subject categories until 2023-04-30.:Agricultural economics and policies
Rural sociology and social security
Deposited On:15 Dec 2020 11:54
Metadata Last Modified:16 Dec 2020 08:23

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