Institutions [1] whose activities are determined, implemented and evaluated with the involvement of local residents and which record these in their documents [2] governing their internal activities, are regarded as operating in a socialised form. In other words, this is mode of operation focusing on local residents and communities [3], their needs, requirements and intents, and what they are interested in, asking for their opinions and at the same time involving them, as active participants, in shaping and implementing its activities. Such institutions use fixed methods and instruments that are accessible for all, whereby local residents can even influence and shape those methods and instruments, as the case may be.
Socialised operation is based on the concept that local residents [4] know most about themselves, they know their needs and requirements best, as regards the subject of their own cultural activities and improvement. It is also possible however, that they are not familiar with all of the possible available options, they do not necessarily know how it is possible to satisfy their needs and requirements, or how they are worth satisfying, in view of the realities and resources of their town or village [5]. But then, they cannot even be expected to have such knowledge. It is your task, as cultural practitioners to know the relevant circumstances and possibilities. It is somewhat similar to one thinking about redoing one’s home or house: they know what they would like to achieve but in order to find out whether it is feasible, and if it is, how, one should, by all means, turn to a professional. The professional is then expected to help the client with planning and other specialist input in implementing the project. And of course in such cases – to continue with the metaphor – the client’s ideas may change, but the final decision must be made by them, since no professional can know their needs and requirements any better than they, for themselves. It is also possible for one to carry out part of the redoing for themselves, either because it is more economical, or simply because one finds that it is fun and satisfying. Doing so will not only boost one’s sense of ownership but also turns one into an expert in certain matters: one starts arguing with tradesmen, gives advice to friends and for certain future changes to be made one will not even resort to a master builder or other specialists but design and carry out the work themselves.
The relationship between cultural institutions [6] and local residents [7] is also similar, or we are convinced, that it should be similar:

  • citizens are experts regarding their own needs and requirements while your expertise is to be used not in determining their needs and requirements for, and instead of, them but in providing them with options as to “how” they can be met,
  • you should be engaged in an interested and continuous conversation with local citizens because this is the only way to find out with what and how you can be at their service,
  • it is also worth creating situations in which action is made possible, and if the participants, patrons and users [8]of the programmes of our institution have become capable of implementing whatever they wish

to, even without your assistance, you should help them only in what they need, when they need and how they need help.


[1] 1997. évi CXL. törvény a muzeális intézményekről, a nyilvános könyvtári ellátásról és a közművelődésről.
[2] EFOP-1.3.1-15 Cselekvő közösségek – aktív közösségi szerepvállalás.
[3] Helyi társadalom szócikk.
[4] Helyi társadalom szócikk.
[5] Település, településrész, térség szócikk.
[6] 1997. évi CXL. törvény a muzeális intézményekről, a nyilvános könyvtári ellátásról és a közművelődésről.
[7] Helyi társadalom szócikk.
[8] KSH STADAT Módszertani információk. 2.7. KULTÚRA.

This article based on the following document:

Socialized Operation of Cultural Institutions : A methodological guide to community-based operation