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Community-based Action for Transformative Change

In this second edition of a bestselling book, the authors’ unique, holistic and radical perspective on participatory practice has been updated to reflect advances in thought made in the past decade, the impact of neoliberalism and austerity and the challenge of climate change. Their innovative approach bridges the divide between community development ideas and practice to offer a critical praxis.

The authors argue that transformative practice begins with everyday stories about people’s lives and that practical theory generated from these narratives is the best way to inform both policy and practice.

The book will be of interest to academics and community-based practitioners working in a range of settings, including health and education.

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13 1 Participatory practice Jane Springett To be denied the capacity for potentially successful participation is to be denied one’s humanity. (Doyal and Gough, 1991: 184) ‘May you live in interesting times’ goes the old Chinese saying, and certainly that has been the case for us all recently. During the last 40 years, we have seen an increase in inequality in health and well-being, with wealth and power being concentrated in the hands of the few and, most seriously, an assault on nature in such a way as to undermine the very existence of life, including that

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91 4 Participatory practice in a non-participatory world Jane Springett To resist co-option by the powerful and being drawn into tokenistic, or even tyrannical, projects, participatory workers must systematically reflect on the lessons of the history of participatory work. (Wakeford, 2016) Participatory practice over the last decade So, is the way of thinking explored in the last chapter coming to the fore and challenging the status quo? Well, yes and no. Over the last decade there has been a remarkable increase in the adoption of the idea of ‘participation

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49 THREE Studying narratives of participatory practice [A]pparently innocuous storytelling … can do a great deal of work ... (John Forester, 1999, p 3) This chapter provides some background to the ways in which the research was set up and carried out. It explains the interpretive, comparative approach used to study communicative practices in three international cases and the narrative analysis conducted to make sense of the stories citizens and public professionals told about their experiences of participatory practice. It explains how the cases were

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1 ONE Introduction: communicating in participatory practice While most of the people most of the time do not achieve excellence … most of us recognize and admire excellence in others when we see it performed. Capacities for communicating in situations of social difference and conflict can be developed and deepened and a public is always better if more of its members have more developed capacities than fewer. (Iris Marion Young, 2000, p 80) ‘So then I’m in a meeting, there’s twenty folk there, maybe a wee bit less, maybe fifteen folk, I’m the only normal

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195 8 Transformative practice Margaret Ledwith Transformative practice aims to bring about social change for a kinder, more just and sustainable world. Therefore, participatory practice is inevitably transformative in intention. As we argued in Chapter 4, the weak link is that ‘participation’ as a concept is poorly understood and often diluted. Participatory practice is action for a participatory democracy: not a feelgood factor that involves local people in local projects but practice which follows through to collective action by involvement in global

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147 6 The role of dialogue Jane Springett Dialogue is the encounter between men [sic] mediated by the world, in order to name the world. (Freire, 1972) … a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it. (Winnie the Pooh, in Milne and Shepard, 1989) While story can be seen as an essential starting point on the journey to transformation, dialogue lies at the heart of engaging in participatory practice. Participation involves a dialogical relationship with the world, both human

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169 7 Critical reflection and reflexivity Jane Springett The Map is not the Territory. (Bateson, 1972) We see the world, not as it is but as we are – or as we are conditioned to see it. (Covey, 2004) We have explored so far two elements of participatory practice that are key to transformative change and, in doing so, we have indicated that neither can achieve that potential without the third element: critical reflection. While we can start to open up the spaces for engagement with story and dialogue, to sow the seeds of individual and collective learning for

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