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Reclaiming radical community development Sue Robson Practitioner, researcher and feminist activist.

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Presentation on theme: "Reclaiming radical community development Sue Robson Practitioner, researcher and feminist activist."— Presentation transcript:

1 Reclaiming radical community development Sue Robson Practitioner, researcher and feminist activist

2 Aim presentation To show:  Radical activism eroded from community development practice under New Labour  As such, CD now in a severely weakened position for concerted critical challenge and resistance  Reclaiming radicalism is timely (based upon case study of CD in NE of England)

3 What is Community Development? “… a long-term value based process which aims to address imbalances in power and bring about change founded on social justice, equality and inclusion.“ However, CD has a wide range of traditions and approaches...

4 Community development perspectives

5 What is critical education? Works through, and is driven by, conversation Conversation is central to building communities Starts with people’s every day lives Involves exploring and enlarging upon lived experiences Can take place in any setting

6 ... Because I was a woman, I was the one who fell pregnant, and I accepted that that was all my fault and I was told, ‘well you’ve made your bed you lie on it’. I never thought to question because that’s what women did. Interview 17, 17.4.07

7 I used to have loads of conversations and began to get politicised in that and then understand women’s roles in society, where women were and why that was so. I started to see it in lots of things and that has carried on. Interview 17, 17.4.07

8 We help women to have a better understanding of the different ways in which they internalise what has happened to them over the years and how they accept it…let’s start from where you are and work through. Interview 23, 8.11.07

9 Understanding our identity, and the history that constructed it, is key to becoming self critical… This is the basis for transcending boundaries of ‘race’, class, gender, culture, nationhood, in mutual, autonomous alliance. Ledwith and Springett, 2010:p5

10 CD and New Labour Valued for contribution to active citizenship and involvement of communities in local governance Yet, community development becomes more shaped by policy than ever before Amid a policy discourse of equality and fairness – emancipatory principles of CD severely undermined

11 Language Hijacking of transformative concepts like participation and empowerment Technical language and a business-led approach (over critical discussion) The voices the most marginalised groups silenced

12 “I am talking on a strategic level I have to use the terminology that people are using and it almost sanitises the work… “ Interview 4, 27.8.07

13 Technical approach Technical planning approach to the evaluation of community development – bureaucracy, targets and outputs Competency based community development learning

14 …when they talk about making sure you are providing a quality of work, it’s about monitoring and targets…not about individual and personal development Interview 17, 17.4.07

15 They are given ticks for competency but not grappling with some of the understandings you get from knowledge, theory, making sense of people. How do you work with people if you have never ever thought about those issues?... Your knowledge is limited to your own experience, whereas if you are working from a wider theoretical perspective you have some more pegs to hang that experience on. Interview 23, 26.8.07

16 Managerialism Community development a management tool in a bureaucratic and output driven culture with Taking the place of promoting self-determination in communities Little room for critical thinking Self-reflection removed from management and accountability processes Undermining of personal and identity politics

17 What would have once been independent and free standing and creative and energetic community based activity gets appropriated and then it just kind of part of the mainstream and it has no vibrancy. Interview 10, 4.6.07

18 Current issues Big Society - no framework for equality and social justice Community Organising – top down analysis of power Purging of CD and equality infrastructures Resilience! Increasing marginalisation and deepening inequalities Hegemony - justifying ‘common sense’ ideas behind policy by perpetuating stereotypes

19 What can be done? What do we mean by radical community development? How can CD better support communities in these hard times? How can we protect and create new spaces critical education practice? How can we challenge the stereotypes perpetuated by media and the Government? Can we restore a structural analysis of power and inequality and how? Resistance OR resilience?

20 07813 109 215

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