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Community development and civil society

Community development and civil society: Making connections in the European context

Paul Henderson
Ilona Vercseg
Copyright Date: 2010
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  • Book Info
    Community development and civil society
    Book Description:

    To what extent are the ideas and practice of community development across Europe similar? Community Development and Civil Society explores this question with special reference to the UK and Hungary and shows how community development connects powerfully with civil society, a concept that today has global significance. Paul Henderson and Ilona Vercseg argue that community development is both a profession and a social movement and is relevant to a wide range of issues.They interweave case studies with discussion of principles and theory.The book's critical and accessible approach will appeal especially to students and practitioners.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-859-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Attila Gergely

    At first glance Paul Henderson and Ilona Vercseg’s book might be taken as one ‘on community and civil society’. A more perceptive observer might add ‘European’ as an important qualification. Upon a deeper reading, however, it will become obvious that this is not just a book on community and civil society in Europe. The piece in the reader’s hands is a product of civil society and community practice ofEuropeansignificance.

    Realising this makes the work a lot more worth exploring, and not only for the initiated community practitioner. In fact, referring to it as a ‘product’ does not do...

  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    As we planned this publication, we became increasingly aware of the significance for our work of major events – past and present – that have influenced the ideas and experiences that are discussed. The book was written 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the event that symbolised the collapse of communist regimes in Poland, Hungary, East Germany, Bulgaria, Romania and Czechoslovakia. In 1990, the changes reached Albania and Yugoslavia. Over the next three years, the Baltic nations, Ukraine and the countries of the southern Caucasus regained their independence. These events were as profound politically, economically and socially...

  6. TWO Civil society
    (pp. 11-28)

    Civil society, like the concepts of democracy, liberalism and radicalism, is a ‘catch-all’ term. It is a phrase that has profound relevance to societies across the globe and that is part of the mainstream of political theory, social policy and the agendas of social movements. It has become a melting pot into which ideas, arguments and examples are poured ceaselessly. Yet this topicality is in danger of rendering the term meaningless.

    There can be no doubt as to the complexity surrounding the concept, particularly given that it is used in so many different political, economic and social contexts. It requires...

  7. THREE Community development
    (pp. 29-44)

    Community development has always been vulnerable to criticism that it is a term that is both vague and pretentious – claiming too much. Let us begin by taking two examples of how community development tackles local issues:

    A community association based in an urban neighbourhood negotiates with the local authority to have a local refuse tip closed because of evidence of leaking gases. The tip is filled in, grassed over and becomes a small environmental park. It is owned by the local authority but is maintained and serviced through a partnership agreement between the community association and the local authority....

  8. FOUR Socialisation
    (pp. 45-60)

    Socialisation means the understanding of a culture and its norms and how one either lives within a culture or challenges it. It is not a concept that is given much attention today in the West, mainly because of its association with the American functional tradition of sociology and the latter’s perceived failure to address issues of gender, race and class within the framework of socialisation. The sociologist Roland Warren, however, locates his writing on socialisation within a strong community context: and, as explained in Chapter Two, we are using his community model as the conceptual framework for Chapters Four to...

  9. FIVE Economic wealth
    (pp. 61-82)

    The above example suggests that various factors influence the successful operation of projects in the broad field of community economic development. These include:

    the scope of the project, especially when it forms part of a major regeneration scheme;

    the growing connections being made between community economic development and environmental issues; and

    the dependence of community economic development on community development.

    This leads us to an appreciation of the importance, historically, of economic criteria for community development. In Chapter Three, we noted Britain’s colonial administrators’ use of community development. An important dimension of this was to encourage self-help among farmers in...

  10. SIX Social participation
    (pp. 83-96)

    Debates about participation tend to focus either on users’ involvement or on citizen participation and participatory democracy. Warren’s concern with social participation across a range of ‘social units’ accordingly provides a useful counter-balance. It can also help us to unravel the meaning of participation in the context of community development. In a talk given at a conference of the Hungarian Association for Community Development (HACD), Vilnos Csányi pointed out that the social participation emphasised by Warren is a community function that facilitates the development of social organisations in which members of the community can become involved in establishing and shaping...

  11. SEVEN Social control
    (pp. 97-118)

    Arguably the most visible presence of social control in the community is ‘neighbourhood watch’. Often referred to as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the police, neighbourhood watch schemes are to be found in urban and rural communities, most notably in the UK and the US. Their purpose is to alert the police to incidents that appear to be breaking the law and to report suspicious or threatening behaviour by strangers. Schemes announce their presence with signs stating ‘This is a neighbourhood watch area’. Some of them exist in name only; others are well organised and active. There is evidence to...

  12. EIGHT Mutual support and solidarity
    (pp. 119-134)

    The concept of mutual support is frequently linked to community care, helpfully opening up a wider understanding of care in the community. At the same time, Warren connects mutual support with Durkheim’s notion of ‘organic solidarity … a type of interdependence in interaction’ (Warren, 1963, p 196). The concepts of mutual support and solidarity are therefore grounded in a tradition of powerful ideas. These in turn connect strongly with community development and civil society.

    In the practice field, research undertaken in Scotland on community care and community development concluded that it was inappropriate to use a narrow definition of community...

  13. NINE The potential of community development
    (pp. 135-156)

    Is community development sufficiently well equipped to deliver successful outcomes in the context of civil society and the challenges of the 21st century? That is the question we explore in this chapter. It is a pivotal chapter for three reasons: it expands on the five ways in which, in Chapter Two, we argue that community development can help communities to become part of civil society (challenging, defending, maintaining, recognising and strengthening civil society); it draws on the ideas presented in Chapters Four to Eight; and it anticipates the authors’ conclusions. By presenting first a Hungarian and then a UK perspective...

  14. TEN Learning and support
    (pp. 157-174)

    What are the learning and support resources available to community development so that it is equipped to respond effectively to the challenges faced by communities today and in the future? Do community development organisations give sufficient attention to this question or are they so taken up dealing with organisational and funding crises that the question is not addressed with sufficient rigour?

    Overall, the picture is a mixed one. There are some examples of innovatory systems and opportunities but also evidence of worrying gaps and failures. In this chapter, we use Hungarian and UK experiences to explore this territory, finishing with...

  15. ELEVEN Conclusion
    (pp. 175-190)

    The previous chapters demonstrate the professional and community contributions of community development to building civil society. They also identify some significant challenges. These are the two areas on which we propose to focus in this chapter. Our purpose is to identify at a general level the contribution of community development to building civil society and to clarify the key challenges. We do this with the awareness that politically a shift to the Right is taking place in many European states and that, given the inherent political nature of both civil society and community development, this means that a high level...

  16. References
    (pp. 191-200)
  17. Index
    (pp. 201-213)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 214-214)