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The only up-to-date, accessibly written short guide to community development, this third edition offers an invaluable and authoritative introduction. Fully updated to reflect changes in policy, practice, economics and culture, it will equip readers with an understanding of the history and theory of community development, as well as practical guidance on how to do it.

This is a key text for all students and practitioners working with communities. It includes:

• a broad overview of core themes, concepts, basic practices and key issues in community development;

• an analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on community life and well-being, along with the implications for longer-term community support;

• additional brand new content on the pressing issues of democratic decline, social fragmentation and isolation, social care pressures, technological developments and climate change.

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Policy and practice

Over the past 10 years partnership working has become a central feature of public services. This book analyses experience of partnerships in different policy fields, identifying the theoretical and practical impediments to making partnership work and critically evaluating the advantages and disadvantages for those involved. Its broad coverage goes beyond the confines of statutory partnerships, addressing other important forms of collaboration between voluntary, private and statutory sectors and service users and community and minority groups.

Through a wide range of perspectives, Partnership working aims to integrate theory and practice across a number of policy areas. Using a variety of models, it:

highlights both positive and negative aspects of partnership working at political, cultural and technical levels;

shows how partnerships can empower people and groups through effective collaboration;

suggests some of the principles on which good practice should be based and the resources required;

addresses key issues of accountability, representation and social exclusion.

The book provides important reading for academics, policy makers, service providers and senior practitioners in community development and community safety, local government, housing, social services and health. It will also be a valuable resource for those working in voluntary organisations and students on professional courses.

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Author: Marilyn Taylor

Since it was last reviewed in this journal (Alcock, 2010), the Big Society agenda has begun to assume a more concrete shape. This brief review re-examines some of the opportunities and challenges associated with the Big Society agenda in the light of more recent developments and then discusses the prospects for one of its key elements – the commitment to train 5,000 community organisers.

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Author: Marilyn Taylor

In England, the change of government in the wake of the 2010 General Election brought with it a fundamental rethink of the relationship between state and community. This article tracks this relationship over the past 40 years, reviewing the development of what might have been described as a community movement in the 1970s to the community sector of the early 21st century. It then asks what the prospects are, under a radically new government regime, for delivering the new, more autonomous forms of community action that have been promised under the rubric of the ‘Big Society’.

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Author: Marilyn Taylor

Voluntary and community organisations have been at the forefront of recent attempts to make welfare services more effective and appropriate. It is often assumed that voluntary sector organisations bring greater levels of democracy and accountability to welfare regimes. This article considers the capacity of voluntary sector organisations to introduce greater accountability through an analysis of notions of trust, the multiplicity of interests, the distinction between process and task and between diversity and equity. It concludes by urging voluntary sector organisations to develop more rigorous and sophisticated conceptions of accountability in order to remain at the forefront of democratic innovation.

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Author: Marilyn Taylor

Community development offers a distinct approach to respond to the problem of diminishing free spaces where citizens can exchange views and learn about democracy and citizenship. It involves citizens as co-creators of the common world rather than as consumers. It has been supported by governments in different countries as a way of defusing tensions within communities, addressing the crisis of political legitimacy, encouraging citizen responsibility, as well as co-producing services with the state. This chapter tracks the ways in which community development has played these different roles over time and the implications for the relationship between state and citizen. It reviews its changing relationship with the state, and the critiques generated by different approaches and programmes. It concludes with an assessment of the challenges it faces in seeking to deepen democracy and foster creative citizenship, in the face of recurring attempts to shrink the state and leave the market as the principal mediating factor in society.

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Neighbourhood governance in contemporary urban policy

“Disadvantaged by where you live?” distils lessons from work on neighbourhoods carried out within the Cities Research Centre of the University of the West of England over the past seven years. It offers a major contribution to academic debates on the neighbourhood both as a sphere of governance and as a point of public service delivery under New Labour since 1997.

The book explores how ‘the neighbourhood’ has been used in policy in the UK; what the ‘appropriate contribution’ of neighbourhood governance is and how this relates to concepts of multi-level governance; the tensions that are visible at the neighbourhood level and what this tells us about wider governance issues.

The book explores and reflects on the notion of neighbourhood governance from a variety of perspectives that reflect the unique depth and breadth of the Centre’s research programme. Neighbourhood governance is examined in relation to: multi-level governance and city-regions; local government; mainstreaming; cross-national differences in neighbourhood policy; community and civil society; diversity; different conceptions of democracy; and, evaluation and learning. In doing so, the book identifies useful conceptual tools for analysing the present and future contribution of policy to neighbourhoods.

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Launched in England in 2010, the government-funded Community Organisers Programme was one of a number of initiatives claiming to put power back in the hands of people. However, it was introduced at the same time as the government was introducing a range of austerity policies, and the divide between the rich and the poor was growing ever greater. This chapter explores the Community Organisers Programme’s approach and the extent to which issues of class have featured in its approach and practice.

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As we saw in Chapter 2, community development is fundamentally concerned with enabling communities to organise collectively and gain greater influence over decisions that affect their lives. Its purposes are:

  • to promote the common good;

  • to challenge injustices; and

  • to nurture individual and collective capabilities.

Community development has a number of core commitments that workers strive to incorporate into their beliefs and practice. It is primarily concerned with mobilising people and assets to overcome disadvantage. It is frequently deployed in places where the whole community is stigmatised and excluded, for example in areas where there has been social breakdown or long-term failure of the local economy. Such communities are characterised by low levels of voluntary activity and often lack suitable spaces to meet socially and to organise. Consequently, within these populations, informal networks may be unravelling and there will be further tensions caused by different forms of oppression, such as transphobia or ageism. Community development interventions sometimes start from supposed problems and deficits, because these difficulties are constantly eroding the capability of communities to tackle the issues they face without additional support and funding. Consequently, existing strengths and assets may be overlooked that have enabled communities to survive, if not exactly thrive.

This chapter will look at the methods, resources and attitudes that assist communities to develop a sense of their own rights and responsibilities, while growing their capacity for collective action. It reminds us that important principles underpin community development and considers what is needed to support effective practice, including recognised skills and techniques. In doing so, it will address long-standing debates over whether community development is best seen as practical activism, an occupation, a profession, an intervention or a movement.

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