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Welfare Reform on the Web (March 2011): Community regeneration and development - overseas

Gender, solidarity and the paradox of microfinance: reflections from Bolivia

B. Bee

Gender, Place and Culture, vol. 18, 2011, p. 23-43

The well known and influential microcredit model developed by the Grameen Bank seeks to create communities of women borrowers who serve as collateral for each other, so that if one defaults on a loan, the rest of the group is responsible for making the payment. Thus these groups of women, often referred to as solidarity groups, rely on peer pressure to ensure that loans are repaid. Through a case study of a microfinance NGO operating in Cochabamba, Bolivia, this article explores how microlending can create and exacerbate tensions within solidarity groups, and calls into question claims that microfinance utilises social capital for collective gains. It argues that within the microfinance movement romantic notions of community sit in tension with the need for organisational sustainability and efficiency, weakening the social networks to vital the success of programmes and creating an irreconcilable paradox.

The impact of housing rehabilitation on local neighbourhoods: the case of small community development organizations

M.M. Smith and C.C. Hevener

American Journal of Economics and Sociology, vol. 70, 2011, p. 50-85

Across the USA, nonprofit organisations located in poor areas are promoting home ownership in order to halt decline and promote neighbourhood stability. A common strategy is to acquire empty properties at a low price, renovate them and then sell them on cheaply. This case study focuses on St Joseph's Carpenter Society (SJCS) in Camden, NJ and assesses its impact on its target neighbourhoods. A three-tiered approach is adopted that ranges from a target and comparison area analysis, to regression analysis of SJCS's impact on local house prices, and finally to an examination of the relative market performance of SJCS's houses. The analysis suggests that SJCS's rehabilitation and home ownership education activities appear to have a positive influence on the neighbourhoods in its target area.

In-active citizenship and the depoliticization of community development in Ireland

N. Gaynor

Community Development Journal, vol. 46, 2011, p. 27-41

Active citizenship has been embraced by state and civic actors in Ireland as a panacea for a range of social ills. The principal idea of active citizenship is that by working together in a spirit of neighbourliness and solidarity people can improve their own lives and the lives of those around them. This article critiques the version of active citizenship currently being promoted in Ireland on the grounds that it is being used to encourage communities to overcome growing deficits in infrastructure and services without questioning the reasons for these. It substitutes self-help for redistribution, self-reliance for state accountability, in the process contributing to an ongoing depoliticization of community development and affording ordinary people little say over the direction of their country.

Revitalizing community development in theory and practice?

M. Carpenter and C. Miller (editors)

Community Development Journal, vol.46, 2011, Supplement 1, 153p

The papers in this special supplement are drawn from an international symposium held in September 2009. The papers contribute through critical reflection to the re-energizing of theoretical frameworks, values and practices in community development within a global context. Papers cover: the role of the corporate sector in the global food crisis; a mining company's efforts to engage with communities in sub-Saharan Africa; how field work education can bring benefits for both community organisations and students when resources are chronically stretched; the role of community organising in the rise to power of President Obama; the role of community development in the revitalisation of the local state; local community planning in Victoria, Australia; and the possibilities for strengthening women's role in local government in South Africa.

Urban community-based services in China: tensions in the transitions

M.B. Lin and others

Community Development Journal, vol. 46, 2011, p. 122-131 Instead of claiming responsibility for caring for its citizens from cradle to grave, the Chinese government now embraces the concept of 'small government and big society'. New forms of community-based social services have been tested, in the hope that effective models can be identified for bridging the gap between rising demand for services and decreasing state provision. Instituted through the Urban Community Residents Committee Organization Act in 1989, the Community Residents Committee (CRC) has become the frontline body responsible for local social service delivery. This article reports on the results of a field study of the CRC in action at a number of pilot demonstration sites in one south west province of China.

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