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  • Author or Editor: Jenny Phillimore x
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While immigration policy in the United Kingdom (UK) largely focuses on securing borders and restricting access to welfare, a separate strand has developed around promoting refugee integration. This article examines the way in which integration policy had been implemented. It explores academic and policy perspectives around what constitutes integration, and the development of integration policy. Interview and focus group data are employed to evaluate the effectiveness of UK integration initiatives. The article finds that successful initiatives adopt a pathways to integration approach that maximises the potential for the interlinkages between integration dimensions while facilitating a two-way integration process engaging refugees and wider society.

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Interest in the formal voluntary sector and wider civil society organisations (CSOs) has grown in recent years and now CSOs are viewed as key to delivering government policy agendas of social action, open public services and localism. This article uses data from 29 interviews with community activists, policy makers and voluntary sector experts to explore the role, function and workings of small-scale civil society organisations (SCSOs). It finds that small-scale activity often emerges as an emotional response to local need, shared interest or the desire for social interaction rather than in response to policy initiatives. SCSOs call on a wide range of resources garnered within their community of geography or of interest. They thrive in unregulated environments providing flexible and holistic services for people in need. The article argues that the co-option of such activities into the delivery of political agendas is unlikely to achieve policy goals.

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Whilst there is a growing body of literature on formal voluntary organisations, relatively little research has been undertaken into the roles and functioning of small, informal, below the radar community groups and actions. ‘Community groups in context: Local activities and actions’ brings together a decade of research with informal community groups and small scale civil society organisations. It explores the wealth and diversity of their forms and activities, their fragility, strategies for survival and their position in relation to a range of public policy objectives. In particular the book examines under-researched aspects of small scale community action: from voluntary arts through to Gypsy, Traveller and Roma groups through to how people learn through to how activists learn, the emotional investment in community action and the voice of below the radar groups in local and national policy contexts.

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Whilst there is a growing body of literature on formal voluntary organisations, relatively little research has been undertaken into the roles and functioning of small, informal, below the radar community groups and actions. ‘Community groups in context: Local activities and actions’ brings together a decade of research with informal community groups and small scale civil society organisations. It explores the wealth and diversity of their forms and activities, their fragility, strategies for survival and their position in relation to a range of public policy objectives. In particular the book examines under-researched aspects of small scale community action: from voluntary arts through to Gypsy, Traveller and Roma groups through to how people learn through to how activists learn, the emotional investment in community action and the voice of below the radar groups in local and national policy contexts.

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Whilst there is a growing body of literature on formal voluntary organisations, relatively little research has been undertaken into the roles and functioning of small, informal, below the radar community groups and actions. ‘Community groups in context: Local activities and actions’ brings together a decade of research with informal community groups and small scale civil society organisations. It explores the wealth and diversity of their forms and activities, their fragility, strategies for survival and their position in relation to a range of public policy objectives. In particular the book examines under-researched aspects of small scale community action: from voluntary arts through to Gypsy, Traveller and Roma groups through to how people learn through to how activists learn, the emotional investment in community action and the voice of below the radar groups in local and national policy contexts.

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From theory to method

This book bridges a major gap in knowledge by considering, through a range of reflexive chapters from different disciplinary backgrounds, both theoretical and practical issues relating to community research methodologies.

The international contributors consider a number of key epistemological, ontological and methodological questions. They explore what community peer research means in a range of settings, for a range of people, for the quality of data and subsequent findings, and for the production of rigorous social research. The collection will also stimulate thinking about how methodological advancement can be made in the field. It is the first book of its kind to combine practical and methodological reflections with clearly presented recommendations about how the approach can be used.

Presenting the latest thinking in the field and providing summaries, case studies and review questions, ‘Community research for participation’ will be invaluable to students, researchers, academics and practitioners who aim to place community members at the centre of their research.

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The contributions in this book, and the level of international interest sparked by our original call for chapters, are testimony to a growing research movement interested in community research. In recent years, academics as well as practitioners, research funders and evaluation commissioners have realised that those traditionally viewed as research objects possess skills, knowledge and expertise that can enable them to make a wide range of valuable contributions to research projects. Engaging members of different communities to research social life, problems or processes within their own communities can bring new dimensions and perspectives to research questions and can bring insider knowledge about social life within communities rarely reached by ‘outside’ researchers (see Goodson and Phillimore, 2010). In this book we use the term ‘community research’ to distinguish the approach from other more familiar and more widely documented practices such as community-based participatory research (CBPR) or community-based research (CBR): whereby research is conducted as an equal partnership and community members are involved in all aspects of the research process (see Minkler and Wallerstain, 2003, 2008; Strand et al, 2003; Israel et al, 2005), participatory action research (PAR) or simply action research (AR): where through the participation of community members, projects are concerned with collectively improving the quality of their community or the area concerned and may be ideologically or politically motivated (see Reason and Bradbury, 2001; Stringer, 2007). Each of these approaches aims to empower community members. This book is not about empowering communities per se, although empowerment may be implicit or even explicit in some community research projects.

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