Qualitative Research, vol.7, 2007, p. 25-43
Much lip service is paid to the idea of community participation in urban regeneration initiatives in the UK. However institutional partners tend to display caution when it comes to actually involving local communities in decision-making. It is argued that a major reason for difficulties is that policymakers often set up local partnerships with insufficient knowledge of the “culture” of the local communities that they seek to regenerate and involve in decision-making. They may also lack a critically reflexive understanding of their own cultural practices. The author suggests that critical planning theory and applied ethnography offer policymakers a way forward in realising more effective community participation.
Social Policy and Society, vol.6, 2007, p.1-12
This paper argues that, at a conceptual level, New Deal for Communities (NDC), as an embodiment of New Labour thinking, misunderstands the nature of individual agency and social relations in conditions of social exclusion. Consequently, this undermines New Labour’s aspiration to “build community” and tackle the social exclusion of NDC residents, while placing expectations on the community that are inappropriate or potentially damaging. The paper draws contrasts between the objectives of the NDC, rooted in in three conceptual models of community, agency and exclusion, and the “on the ground” experiences of local residents. It points out that different groups of residents express conflicting needs, are unwilling to compromise or see others’ viewpoints, and are unable or unwilling to actively participate in community development activities.