Community Development

Books in our market-leading Community Development list explore and develop the various practices and systems that support communities to take control of their lives, services and environments. They offer essential reading for academics, upper-level undergraduate and graduate-level students in Community Development and related disciplines.

New titles are added to our Rethinking Community Development series every year, an international book series that offers the opportunity for a critical re-evaluation of community development.

Our Connected Communities series showcases collaborative research between universities and communities, seeking to understand the changing nature of communities and their role in addressing contemporary individual, societal and global concerns.

Community Development

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How can young people’s activism help us to rethink community development? This collection explores the critical role that young people are playing in building a more hopeful and democratic future. The book has three aims: to show how a focus on ‘youth’ can contribute to sharpening understandings of community development; to foreground conceptualisations of radical democracy within the rethinking of community development; and to link developments within new youth social movements to the work of youth workers and community development practitioners and thus contribute to rethinking this relationship. The collection includes chapters on the eco movement, the struggles of refugees and the Black Lives Matter movement, and on changing understandings of sexual citizenship, highlighting, above all, emancipatory struggles and gestures of solidarity. Some chapters come from a European context, but they are made more complete and complex by the presence of writers and practitioners whose lives began in the Global South in countries such as India, Kenya and Brazil. The rich accounts counter the individualistic nature of capitalist society and reject the view that there is no alternative. In varying ways, authors present prefigurative practices of hope as an essential element of social movements for rethinking community development. Above all, the book calls for us to act in alliance with young people who are at the forefront of radical democratic practices of community development all over the world.

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Reflecting on the contributing chapters of the book, the chapter argues that prefigurative practices of hope are an essential element of social movements and community development. It positions hope as collective action, that has the capacity to emerge out of and in spite of other emotions, such as anger and fear in the face of climate catastrophe and the continued fallout from COVID-19. Drawing on the work of Ernst Bloch, the chapter theorises practices of imagination and action distinguishing educated hope from facile optimism. Drawing also on Braidotti and Derrida, it suggests that community development might open up new spaces ‘beyond binaries’ where exploration of friendship and the (im)possibility of common ground can flourish. The authors propose that hopeful radical democratic practice begins from certain refusals: of authoritarian populism and of neoliberal capitalist realism – in order to practise the inauguration of alternative, freer and more egalitarian forms. They argue that seeing young people as a forefront may require new ways of acting with and being in community.

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How can young people’s activism help us to rethink community development? This collection explores the critical role that young people are playing in building a more hopeful and democratic future. The book has three aims: to show how a focus on ‘youth’ can contribute to sharpening understandings of community development; to foreground conceptualisations of radical democracy within the rethinking of community development; and to link developments within new youth social movements to the work of youth workers and community development practitioners and thus contribute to rethinking this relationship. The collection includes chapters on the eco movement, the struggles of refugees and the Black Lives Matter movement, and on changing understandings of sexual citizenship, highlighting, above all, emancipatory struggles and gestures of solidarity. Some chapters come from a European context, but they are made more complete and complex by the presence of writers and practitioners whose lives began in the Global South in countries such as India, Kenya and Brazil. The rich accounts counter the individualistic nature of capitalist society and reject the view that there is no alternative. In varying ways, authors present prefigurative practices of hope as an essential element of social movements for rethinking community development. Above all, the book calls for us to act in alliance with young people who are at the forefront of radical democratic practices of community development all over the world.

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This chapter explores techniques for navigating and contesting the racialised legal geographies and policy frameworks that have disproportionately harmed multiple areas of life for people of African heritage within postcolonial Britain. The author draws on his own heritage, and gatherings with colleagues, friends, family and elders. The chapter begins at Elouise ‘Mama’ Edwards’ celebration of life in March 2021 – a towering figure within the African Caribbean diasporic community and beyond, who was committed to the community work of building support structures as foundation for freedom and balance. The writing of this chapter also cuts across and connects insights from organising with Windrush Defenders Legal C.I.C. and Channels Research Group; Q&As with civil servants; data analysis; libations; drumming; collaborative writing; counter archives; forums; judicial reviews and footnotes linking the multiple electronic languages of digital documentation. This poetic constellation of media and words maps the field through which memory survives – establishing lines of sight – towards scripting dreamt formulations of reparative futures.

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Food is often present in practices of community development and community building. Here, it has often been approached as part of the experience of poverty or as the basis for community cohesion work. This chapter unfolds a different perspective: it is concerned with the role of food in community-building activities that aim at systemic changes in the food system. It focuses on discursive, socio-material and sensory aspects of food in the building of a more sustainable local and alternative food community. Focusing on the work of a group of young environmental activists from Zurich, Switzerland, the chapter shows that eating together can spark positive dynamics that can be harnessed for community building and lead to more empowered relationships with food. It recognises how prescriptions about what and how to eat, how to handle and how to talk about food become markers of social distinction and possibly discrimination. For more inclusive practices to develop, the chapter identifies that addressing hurtful food experiences such as lack of food or eating disorders is necessary. Furthermore, the inclusion and competences of marginalised groups in the politicisation of food and in activities of community-based food production becomes essential.

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This chapter is based on empirical research conducted during 2017–19 in a social-housing and multiethnic neighbourhood, Sanitas, located in Tours, France. It focuses on a mobilisation against a renewal project in the neighbourhood and the relationships between different local structures including the Social Centre, Citizen Council and Sanitas Collective. The chapter argues that the top-down creation of participatory tools does not enable real empowerment of inhabitants leading to a local radical democracy but rather reflects the nature of neoliberal urban governance based on the efficiency of urban policies and the deconflictualisation of urban projects. It also discusses the tensions between different groups like young and ‘racialised’ people and activists in associations and the role the Social Centre plays in managing these tensions. Finally, the author highlights the importance of involving youth in the everyday life of the neighbourhood within the context of urban renewal.

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The lives of young people living in Brazilian urban peripheries are crossed by the overlaps between territorial stigma, racism, poverty, social insecurity, involvement in illicit activities, contact with criminal justice and diverse experiences of violence and violation of human rights. This chapter reflects on the territorialised and racialised distinctions of rights they experience. It explores the monsterisation and disposability of young people, analysing how structural racism is reproduced by both institutional practices and practitioner attitudes towards them. The chapter examines the possibilities and limits of cultural knowledge translations, diverse socio-historical realities and contrasting policy-practice environments in the context of working with young people between Brazil and the UK. In doing so, it opens up potential lines of dialogue with academics and practitioners by introducing some critical concepts and approaches for community development through the lenses of a pedagogy of convivência/coexistence. The chapter highlights relevant principles as reminders for practice, advocacy, policy impact and, more widely, political incidence, that is, the ability of social agents to influence the political processes and policy agendas.

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This chapter analyses a local iteration of an international event focused on dancing for safe water for everyone: Global Water Dances. This large-scale project provides a lens on the ways in which communities form and dissolve on local and global scales, shifting the traditional boundaries and linear narratives of success which have led to this extraordinary era of crises, including climate crises. Foregrounding how, in this context, community is understood as a fluid, with processes in need of ongoing regeneration and reinvention, the chapter attends to how we move together in time; how we dare a mingling of selves and others, local and global. Connecting these concerns, the chapter explores how Global Water Dances aims to think and move with water and each other, to contribute to a shifting sensibility about water as central to issues of social justice, as much as an issue of environmental concern.

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This chapter foregrounds the challenges first- and second-generation learners face in Indian higher education campuses by sharing insights gained through the work of Disha, a speak out and peer support group that has been functioning for the last 29 years. Established by the author Dr Sadhana Natu in 1992, Disha is a community-building project based in a psychology department. The chapter shows how thinking from psychology can inform community education processes and how community work can inform a democratic politics of mental health.

A key aspect in Disha is the building of friendship and the consequent unlearning of privilege by those who inherit high caste status. The chapter speaks to many marginalised, as well as privileged youth elsewhere, whether subject to a caste system or other forms of oppressive social hierarchy.

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This chapter focuses on the Escape Routes project which aimed to develop approaches for working with marginalised young people involved in drug trafficking in Brazil. The project aimed to produce a better understanding of these young people’s life circumstances, and new methodologies of work to support them when making their way out of criminal networks. The chapter highlights the challenges of structural racism and discrimination to the design and implementation of more inclusive programmes, policies and practices. It argues the need to consider the role of community development and participatory methodologies to not only rethink the actions of government agencies, but also practitioners’ attitudes to create a bridge to a humanised practice. One of the key elements of that is the recognition of young people not as ‘objects’ of intervention, but as agents of their own future.

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