Critical Social Policy, vol. 29, 2009, p. 53-76
This article looks at the concept of 'capacity building' and explores its role in the 2000-2006 EU funded community regeneration programme in West Wales and the Valleys. The author argues that community development programmes such as this stress primarily a 'rational agency' approach to facilitating social capital and building capacity. However, interviews with individuals working in regeneration areas who have been involved in the programme suggest that in order to be able to understand 'capacity' as a theoretical and normative concept, it is important to look at the social and economic circumstances in which this idea has gained political currency. A programme positing agency as the new risk bearer in community development projects may often be unrealistic given many of the structural issues that characterise these spaces.