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Towards reflexive, dynamic and accountable community development practice

ROBSON, SUSAN (2015) Towards reflexive, dynamic and accountable community development practice. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis explores the limits and possibilities for community development practice to maintain dynamism and integrity in a professional context. There is a particular emphasis upon reflexivity and its relevance in processes of accountability towards both communities and state policy. The study was born out of dissonance surrounding the researcher’s community development practice mid-way through New Labour’s 1997 to 2010 administration. It argues that New Labour’s social functionalist approach proved to be problematic for the maintenance the reflexive and personal commitment necessary to the central dynamic of community development work.
Although not specifically designed to consider feminist community development approaches, the questions emerged from the researcher’s feminist analysis of contemporary practice and the research itself was designed from this perspective. The design of the methods applied to the empirical research for this study are based upon those used in reflexive and transformative community development practice.
The empirical work involves a case study surrounding the conditions for community development professional practice in North East England in 2007, ten years into New Labour’s last administration. This consisted of semi-structured interviews with a sample of twenty-four self-defined community development practitioners. Focus groups were conducted in 2009 to share the findings and to assist the researcher to take the analysis further.
Aiming to generalize from a particular historical moment when the Government seemed to be supportive of community development work, during New Labour’s 1997 to 2010 administration, the thesis highlights some inherent tensions within the relationship between the state and the dynamism of community development and illustrates lessons that are widely applicable to its everyday practice.
In conclusion this thesis argues that for community development practice to maintain dynamism and integrity in a state policy context it is vital that its personal dynamic is integral to forming future conceptions of professionalism. Moreover that supporting the personal and relational elements of community development practice requires the creation of liminal spaces where self-determination and the agency can be exercised. For, it is only under these practice conditions that the intersubjective relationships necessary for bilateral and horizontal professional accountability can be nurtured and developed.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:community development, reflexivity, dynamism, liminality, intersubjectivity, accountablity
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Applied Social Sciences, School of
Thesis Date:2015
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:15 Jan 2016 08:49

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