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A community development approach

Offering a critical examination of the nature of co-produced research, this important new book draws on materials and case studies from the ESRC funded project ‘Imagine – connecting communities through research’. Outlining a community development approach to co-production, which privileges community agency, the editors link with wider debates about the role of universities within communities. With policy makers in mind, contributors discuss in clear and accessible language what co-production between community groups and academics can achieve. The book will be valuable for practitioners within community contexts, and researchers interested in working with communities, activists, and artists.

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This chapter explores the process of a community-based researcher and two academics working together on one of the sub-projects of the wider Imagine project described in Chapter 1. This sub-project was a collaboration between the research officer at Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisation, and two academics at the University of Brighton. Many research collaborations are based on the notion that the research expertise is situated within the university, with community partners providing practical expertise. This chapter is about inverting this dynamic, with the community partner becoming the lead researcher. We reflect on our own experience of working together in the broader context of the findings of our research study and on how Community-University partnership working can contribute to community development especially, through the subsequent actions of the community partners.

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This is the introductory chapter of the book Co-producing research: A community development approach. It introduces the co-editors and explains the genesis of the book, based on the learning from a complex community-university research project, Imagine – connecting communities through research. It outlines a community development approach to the co-production of research, described as: research undertaken collaboratively by several parties that values multiple perspectives and voices; contributes to creating and developing communities of place, interest and identity; builds collective capacity for action; and works towards social change. It offers an overview of the chapters in the book and argues for an interdisciplinary collaborative approach.

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This is the final chapter of Co-producing research: A community development approach. It draws together key messages and learning from previous chapters about a complex community-university research project, Imagine – connecting communities through research. It outlines the challenges and rewards of a community development approach to co-producing research, including working with diversity and difference and being prepared to be flexible, creative and patient. It ends by discussing a final writing retreat to encapsulate key achievements and learning from the project, ending with the advice to ‘embrace the unexpected’.

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Offering a critical examination of the nature of co-produced research, this important new book draws on materials and case studies from the ESRC funded project ‘Imagine – connecting communities through research’. Outlining a community development approach to co-production, which privileges community agency, the editors link with wider debates about the role of universities within communities. With policy makers in mind, contributors discuss in clear and accessible language what co-production between community groups and academics can achieve. The book will be valuable for practitioners within community contexts, and researchers interested in working with communities, activists, and artists.

Restricted access

Offering a critical examination of the nature of co-produced research, this important new book draws on materials and case studies from the ESRC funded project ‘Imagine – connecting communities through research’. Outlining a community development approach to co-production, which privileges community agency, the editors link with wider debates about the role of universities within communities. With policy makers in mind, contributors discuss in clear and accessible language what co-production between community groups and academics can achieve. The book will be valuable for practitioners within community contexts, and researchers interested in working with communities, activists, and artists.

Restricted access

Offering a critical examination of the nature of co-produced research, this important new book draws on materials and case studies from the ESRC funded project ‘Imagine – connecting communities through research’. Outlining a community development approach to co-production, which privileges community agency, the editors link with wider debates about the role of universities within communities. With policy makers in mind, contributors discuss in clear and accessible language what co-production between community groups and academics can achieve. The book will be valuable for practitioners within community contexts, and researchers interested in working with communities, activists, and artists.

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This chapter explores the challenges of fostering learning across traditional academic and non-academic boundaries when conducting participatory research in community-university partnerships. The authors were all active collaborators in the Imagine – Social programme. They focus on the role of research retreats in including a diversity of partners in this long-term research project. After introducing the key terms of ‘community of practice’ and ‘retreats’, the chapter describes the types of boundaries that were addressed and the challenges that were faced in crossing them. Next the authors present their approach to crossing these boundaries by cultivating a community of practice through these retreats. The stages of development of a community of practice (Wenger et al, 2002) are then set out and are reframed to focus on boundary issues drawing on the successive retreats as illustrations. Finally, the chapter closes by identifying the key enablers that supported the development of such a boundary-crossing community.

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