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last modified August 26, 2011 by facilitfsm


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Elements on Social Forum Methodology


Fundamentally, Social Forum is an inclusive and plural process. It is governed, in particular during the events that identify with it, by the world social forum charter l..

Social Forum is a space,  open to any entity (and any person) belonging to the progressive civil society ( see article 1 of the charter).

Results expected from the Social Forum are :

-          evolution and enrichment of points of view, analyses and proposals of the participating organizations, and the participating  persons, via the dialogues and  connections which he allows to establish (some established by random meetings, during the event itself),

-          alliance building between some participating organizations,

       -    emergence of actions (a Social Forum event  being one action in itself) and of projects.

To protect the characteristics of inclusiveness, pluralism and unity, there is neither declaration of the social forum as such (see the principle 6 of the Charter) nor presence of the political parties as such (see the principle 9 of the Charter), that means neither production of program element that Social Forum  would endorse in its own name on its behalf, nor import of readymade external  programs.

On the other hand, logistics of Social Forum gives any facility and visibility to the declarations and platforms elaborated by participants , these being presented as those and only those of their signatories (see the principle 7 of the Charter).

Social Forum methodology applies to a multithematic forum, to a more focused forum (for example a forum of the local alternatives) or to a monothematic forum.

There exists a second reference document “ guiding principles for organizing a world social forum event”  that gives methodological guidance absent from the charter

The Social Forum is a process that unfolds through a series of events around the world. A Council composed of 150 international organizations and networks around the world meets two to three times a year to assess the context and take guidance on the methodology of the forum and the holding of the world event (Porto Alegre 2001 2002 2003 2005 - 2004 Mumbai - Caracas / Bamako / Nairobi Karachi 2006, 2007, week of Action 2008, Belem 2009, Dakar 2011)


As a rule, the activities which are held during an event of the Social Forum are self-organized, whether on their contents and on the modality to handle them.


To mitigate a possible lack of rooms with regard to the number activities proposals, and also because it helps foster dialogue , a phase of agglutination can be opened before the holding of an event. It is occasion for organizations willing to do so to merger their various activity proposals

During the social forum events of wide scale, two successive moments can (since the FSM of Belém 2009) be distinguished:

-          the moment of activities workshops seminars, more focused on the exhibition and the confrontation of analyses and proposals,

-              the moment of assemblies of convergence for action, more focused on the production of platforms and propositions of action.

Roles of organizations

For an organization, there are three possible forms of participation (that can be combined) :

-          participate « in the room » in one or several activities organized by the other organizations, (*)

-           propose and to participate in the construction of activity(ies), (*)

-           participate in the organization, also called « facilitation », of the social forum (implementation of the methodology, search for the means and for financing, implementation and operation  of the site, etc.)

As a rule, joint facilitation of several organizations is needed to organize a social forum; at the local level, a social forum can be however initiated by a single organization, on condition that the openness to  partners' inclusion, for active participation and\or facilitation, be obvious.

(*) This possibility of participation for organizations can in particular be implemented by remote participation (extension via internet) in activities (co-)organized in the other locations by other organizational authorities. (more information) (more 'information)