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  • Author or Editor: Mae Shaw x
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This book, the second title in the Rethinking Community Development series, starts from concern about increasing inequality worldwide and the re-emergence of community development in public policy debates.

It argues for the centrality of class analysis and its associated divisions of power to any discussion of the potential benefits of community development. It proposes that, without such an analysis, community development can simply mask the underlying causes of structural inequality. It may even exacerbate divisions between groups competing for dwindling public resources in the context of neoliberal globalisation.

Reflecting on their own contexts, a wide range of contributors from across the global north and south explore how an understanding of social class can offer ways forward in the face of increasing social polarisation. The book considers class as a dynamic and contested concept and examines its application in policies and practices past and present. These include local/global and rural/urban alliances, community organising, ecology, gender and education.

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How and why are arts and cultural practices meaningful to communities?

Highlighting examples from Lebanon, Latin America, China, Ireland, India, Sri Lanka and beyond, this exciting book explores the relationship between the arts, culture and community development.

Academics and practitioners from six continents discuss how diverse communities understand, re-imagine or seek to change personal, cultural, social, economic or political conditions while using the arts as their means and spaces of engagement.

Investigating the theory and practice of ‘cultural democracy’, this book explores a range of aesthetic forms including song, music, muralism, theatre, dance, and circus arts.

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The increasing impact of neoliberalism across the globe means that a complex interplay of democratic, economic and managerial rationalities now frame the parameters and practices of community development. This book explores how contemporary politics, and the power relations it reflects and projects, is shaping the field today.

This first title in the timely Rethinking Community Development series presents unique and critical reflections on policy and practice in Taiwan, Australia, India, South Africa, Burundi, Germany, the USA, Ireland, Malawi, Ecuadorian and Peruvian Amazonia and the UK. It addresses the global dominance of neoliberalism, and the extent to which practitioners, activists and programmes can challenge, critique, engage with or resist its influence.

Addressing key dilemmas and challenges being navigated by students, academics, professionals and activists, this is a vital intellectual and practical resource.

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We are writing as teachers and academics with substantial experience over many years (50 years combined) on undergraduate and postgraduate programmes of professional community education. This chapter is derived from that experience and developed from Community Engagement: A Critical Guide for Practitioners (Shaw and Crowther, 2017), a practical resource intended to guide workers as they confront the contemporary challenges of community engagement.

The formation of professional community education services in Scotland was an outcome of the 1975 Alexander Report on Adult Education: The Challenge of Change (Scottish Education Department, 1975), which was adopted by most local authorities. It was not until early 2000 that the term went largely out of favour in the context of local government reform. Whilst the term ‘community education’ has been largely abandoned in policy in Scotland, and other parts of the UK, it still carries historical resonance as a form of educational work rooted in the lives of real people, whatever the contingencies of context. It therefore continues to raise expectations of a curriculum that draws creatively on people’s experiences in order to enlarge the space for cultivating and sustaining critical community engagement.

These aspirations, however, are increasingly subject to competing rationalities. First, they are at odds with the realities of contemporary higher education in the UK. We are based in a research-intensive university, operating within a wider system of marketised higher education. In this context, the professional locus of our work, and the ideological commitments that inform it, tend to be marginal at best; at worst, surplus to institutional requirements.

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This book, the second title in the Rethinking Community Development series, starts from concern about increasing inequality worldwide and the re-emergence of community development in public policy debates. It argues for the centrality of class analysis and its associated divisions of power to any discussion of the potential benefits of community development. It proposes that, without such an analysis, community development can simply mask the underlying causes of structural inequality. It may even exacerbate divisions between groups competing for dwindling public resources in the context of neoliberal globalisation. Reflecting on their own contexts, a wide range of contributors from across the global north and south explore how an understanding of social class can offer ways forward in the face of increasing social polarisation. The book considers class as a dynamic and contested concept and examines its application in policies and practices past and present. These include local/global and rural/urban alliances, community organising, ecology, gender and education.

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This book, the second title in the Rethinking Community Development series, starts from concern about increasing inequality worldwide and the re-emergence of community development in public policy debates. It argues for the centrality of class analysis and its associated divisions of power to any discussion of the potential benefits of community development. It proposes that, without such an analysis, community development can simply mask the underlying causes of structural inequality. It may even exacerbate divisions between groups competing for dwindling public resources in the context of neoliberal globalisation. Reflecting on their own contexts, a wide range of contributors from across the global north and south explore how an understanding of social class can offer ways forward in the face of increasing social polarisation. The book considers class as a dynamic and contested concept and examines its application in policies and practices past and present. These include local/global and rural/urban alliances, community organising, ecology, gender and education.

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This book, the second title in the Rethinking Community Development series, starts from concern about increasing inequality worldwide and the re-emergence of community development in public policy debates. It argues for the centrality of class analysis and its associated divisions of power to any discussion of the potential benefits of community development. It proposes that, without such an analysis, community development can simply mask the underlying causes of structural inequality. It may even exacerbate divisions between groups competing for dwindling public resources in the context of neoliberal globalisation. Reflecting on their own contexts, a wide range of contributors from across the global north and south explore how an understanding of social class can offer ways forward in the face of increasing social polarisation. The book considers class as a dynamic and contested concept and examines its application in policies and practices past and present. These include local/global and rural/urban alliances, community organising, ecology, gender and education.

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In contexts across the world, community development is being rediscovered as a cost-effective intervention for dealing with the social consequences of global economic restructuring that has taken place over the last half century. This chapter introduces the term ‘community development’ and its plurality of meanings, as well as introducing the ways in which community development can be used to address inequality. The authors pose that class should be central to an analysis of inequality and the ways in which it is framed by community development strategies. The chapter then goes on to give a more detailed explanation of the terms ‘class’ ‘inequality’ and ‘community development’ and how they interplay with one another. The chapter concludes by giving a description of the layout of the remainder of the book.

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In line with the aims of the Rethinking Community Development series, and in common with the other volumes published to date, this book reflects a commitment to theorising ‘issues and practices in a way that will encourage diverse audiences to rethink the potential of community development’. For us, the editors, this volume extends our longstanding interest in the potentially rich dialectical relationship between the arts, culture and community development (Meade and Shaw, 2007; 2011; Shaw and Meade, 2013; Meade, 2018a). Taking it as axiomatic that community development’s theory and practice are continuously reconstituted for different purposes and different contexts, this book draws attention to some of the diverse ways that groups of people collectively make sense of, re-imagine or seek to change the personal, cultural, social, economic, political, or territorial conditions of their lives, while using the arts as their means and spaces of engagement. Across its chapters, the book explores the following broad themes and questions:

How can we conceptualise the relationship between community development and arts/cultural practice? What diverse forms does this relationship take in contemporary contexts? How might democratic strategies and commitments overlap and nurture each other within this relationship?

How do communities of people engage with, utilise, make sense of and make sense through particular artforms and media? How can we understand the aesthetic and associated meanings of such engagements?

How are the power dynamics related to authorship, resources, public recognition and expectations of impact negotiated within community-based arts processes?

How do economistic and neoliberal rationalities shape arts processes and programmes in community contexts? To what extent are dominant rationalities being resisted and challenged through arts practices?

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It is mid-September 2020. As we gather our thoughts to give final expression to the monumental changes which have occurred since this book project began, it is difficult to overstate their significance for life across the planet. Many of us are reeling from the impact of the pandemic on our sense of self, of place, our frameworks of understanding, our plans, hopes and fears for the future. It’s clear that nobody is unaffected by the coronavirus moment, though clearly not all in the same way. As an Italian correspondent put it in a letter to The Guardian newspaper: COVID-19 exposes:

the enormity of the world’s suffering – the decimated Amazon rainforest tribes, the jobless Indian labourer who walked for hundreds of miles from his ancestral village, the homeless man who slept in the entrance of an office building until metal spikes were placed on the floor – and the understanding that we are all connected. (Francesca Melandri, 2020: np)

The sense of existential connectedness expressed here, and across the chapters in this book, may be a source of both comfort and critique in the times to come, in spite of those systems of power which seek to differentiate and divide. As Arundhati Roy (2020: np) puts it, ‘For all the suffering, finally, we have all been compelled to interrogate “normal”’.

This unparalleled context has precipitated degrees of paralysis, panic or chaos worldwide as powerful interests rush to shore up economic models which have informed and infused all aspects of social, political and cultural life, the mounting and visible contradictions of which have previously been denied or quietly and crudely mitigated.

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