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The Company of Neighbours

The Company of Neighbours: Revitalizing Community Through Action Research

Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 144
  • Book Info
    The Company of Neighbours
    Book Description:

    The authors describe a successful community development, action-research project designed to revitalize a southwestern Ontarian town that had lost its core manufacturing, municipal status, and its civic pride.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8086-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
    C. Kenneth Banks and J. Marshall Mangan
  4. Introduction: The Social Context
    (pp. 3-8)

    Across Canada at the close of the twentieth century, we are facing the withering of the welfare state (Couchman 1986; McQuaig 1993). The impact of diminished universal programs of health and social care, of lowered standards of living, and of disparities in the distribution of resources is exacerbated by the even more significant loss of our beliefs and assumptions regarding the notion of reciprocal obligation. Politicians are holding up their abdication of responsibility for vulnerable members of the population as an opportunity to ignite ʹgood old-fashionedʹ forms of community care. That care is supposed to be provided by an illusory...

  5. 1 Community Action-Research in the Postmodern Era
    (pp. 9-25)

    This book describes an effort to bring together social researchers, social workers, and the people with whom they work in a new set of relationships, intended to produce more fruitful, gratifying, and lasting results for everyone involved. In structuring those relationships, we found ourselves facing a profound set of challenges. We recognized that the welfare of the community in which we had chosen to work had to be our first priority. But we also wanted to develop methodological and theoretical grounds for our research, which would allow us to make lasting contributions to a knowledge base for similar efforts in...

  6. 2 Forging a Collaborative Research Strategy
    (pp. 26-46)

    In chapter 1, we laid out what we see as the fundamental challenges facing community-development research in the areas of analysis and practice and the ways in which our research designs attempt to address these challenges. In this chapter, we describe more specifically the program of action-research that we developed as a means of documenting the community narrative, and building a strong narrative community, within Hespeler. We start and end with neighbours as our unit of reference, but concepts of community and society shape the kinds of relationships that we are attempting to foster. What we envisioned as the goal...

  7. 3 Emergent Themes in the Community Narrative
    (pp. 47-75)

    We have now established the principles undergirding our approach to the study of community in Hespeler and described the methods that evolved from those principles. Our critique of postmodernism suggests that concern with understanding the ʹlife-worldsʹ of Hespelerʹs residents would be a starting point for our analysis but that we wished to move beyond an analysis of their words and into the world of action. We emphasized that we wished, rather than indulging in the construction of ʹgrand theoryʹ (see Mills 1959), to concentrate on hearing Hespelerʹs many stories and the story of the community as a whole. Drawing on...

  8. 4 Retelling and Reclaiming Hespelerʹs History
    (pp. 76-91)

    The previous chapter examined many aspects and meanings of community, neighbourly relations, and mutual aid, in terms of their definitions in social theory, their everyday discursive use, and the ways in which they are socially defined through peopleʹs actions. In the process of establishing our project in Hespeler, recruiting our local researchers and other participants, and conducting and analysing our interviews, a narrative community started to emerge. We began to get a sense of the residentsʹ beliefs, concerns, and priorities. One of the clearest themes was the great interest in Hespelerʹs history and concern that the best traditions of the...

  9. 5 The Great Hespeler Reunion
    (pp. 92-113)

    The beginning of the year 1995 brought many changes to the Company of Neighbours. Our source of funding shifted from the Donner Canadian Foundation and Ontarioʹs Ministry of Community and Social Services to the Trillium Foundation. Our data gathering and analysis, reported in chapters 3 and 4, had led us to feel that we understood the communityʹs central concerns and traditions. We sensed that we might be on the brink of the ʹaction phaseʹ of our project. Our ʹnarrative communityʹ was much stronger than it had been when the project began, and we felt that the reshaping of the community...

  10. Conclusion: Implications for Community Development and Action-Research
    (pp. 114-128)

    The process of constructing the story of the Company of Neighbours, and the community of Hespeler, continues today. It is richer and more diverse in its implications for action-research and community development than the outline that we have been able to present here. Drawing out the implications of our qualitative data, and of our experience as participants in this process, is a complex and multifaceted process. The interviews, stories, debates, and field notes that we have organized around a small number of themes have been mediated at every step by us as authors. The full import of the lessons to...

  11. References
    (pp. 129-136)
  12. Index
    (pp. 137-141)