Where is community development today?

Michael Pitchford and Paul Henderson

in Making spaces for community development

Published by Policy Press

Published in print July 2008 | ISBN: 9781847422590
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447302759 | DOI:
Where is community development today?

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Community development has arrived at the policy table. Interviews with experienced practitioners and observation of the current practice suggest that it is the importance of ‘community’ to the New Labour government that has arrived and not of community development. It is the newer categories of ‘community engagement’ that underpin the recent local government White Papers and not that of community development. The changes in terms of purpose, practice, training and funding have begun to strip community development of its political analysis. While there are individual practitioners who still work with a political understanding of their role, many do not and are not encouraged to view their role as one of delivery and implementation. It is hard to envisage how practitioners and community development professions will build the confidence and sense of purpose to achieve changes with communities without reconnecting with the politics of community development. This chapter assesses where community development is today. It attempts to identify the direction in which it is travelling and extracts the key points of learning from the practitioner interviews as a way of guiding future discussions and decisions about community development. It aims to assess the extent to which community development in the UK is losing its sense of purpose and direction and is becoming increasingly disconnected from its origins in social change.

Keywords: community development; New Labour; community engagement; communities; politics; social change

Chapter.  7596 words. 

Subjects: Urban and Rural Studies

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