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The dilemmas of development work

The dilemmas of development work: Ethical challenges in regeneration

Paul Hoggett
Marjorie Mayo
Chris Miller
Copyright Date: 2009
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  • Book Info
    The dilemmas of development work
    Book Description:

    Social development work takes place in the grey area between government and the voluntary and community sectors. This book, written by three well-known educators and researchers in the social policy and development field, explores the ways in which front-line professionals working with communities identify and address the dilemmas inherent in the current policy context. Drawing upon original material, the authors examine how 'community engagement' workers negotiate the ethical and emotional challenges they face; how they work through problems of community representation at interpersonal and team levels; how they manage the conflicting roles of local activist and paid worker and what role colleagues, management and others play when responding to such challenges. The dilemmas of development work reconnects to, and updates, an important tradition in social policy which explores the dilemmas of 'street-level' work. It draws on contemporary political theory and current debates concerning the modernisation of governance and psycho-social perspectives on identity, values and agency. Combining theory and practice, it will appeal to practitioners, policy makers and undergraduates in social and public policy.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-371-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    Development work, broadly defined, has traditionally included a range of activities designed to strengthen the capacity of local groups and communities to identify and give effective voice to their needs, to draw in resources from public and private sources and to effect changes in the policies and strategies of government at local, regional and even national levels. Development work has focused on disadvantaged communities in both rural and urban areas and, as we demonstrate in more detail in Chapter Three, although its origins lay in work with the urban poor of industrialising nations at the beginning of the 20th century,...

  5. Part One: Context, role and person

    • TWO The public sphere as dilemmatic space
      (pp. 15-30)

      As was argued in the introduction, development work occurs across the terrain at the interface between the state and civil society, at the point where representative and participatory democracy meet. Perhaps more than any other part of life this terrain acts as an incubator for politics – it is the site from which many social movements spring, where local activists and politicians develop, where struggles for social justice grow and decline and where inter-communal conflicts are generated. It is therefore, above all, a public sphere, a place where public purposes and values are continually contested.

      Ways of thinking about the...

    • THREE The nature of development work
      (pp. 31-54)

      This chapter begins with an account of community development that defines it as a form of state intervention. While the overall focus is wider than community development per se, including a wider range of professionals with a ‘development’ brief, the history of community development has relevance for a critical understanding of the roots and inherent tensions of public policies towards community engagement and community capacity building. As the chapter demonstrates, community development approaches have been applied, and misapplied, in varying ways, over time.

      Having explored some of the competing definitions of community development, the chapter then considers the relationship between...

    • FOUR The resilience of development workers
      (pp. 55-76)

      We traced the history of development work in Chapter Three and in doing so noted the changing nature of this work in Britain and the developing world. As development work has become seen as the answer to a growing number of problems (of governance, economic development and social justice), so more and more practitioners have been drawn under its umbrella.

      The number of front-line staff being paid to engage in work with British communities has increased significantly in recent years. Since 1997 a trickle of programmes to involve communities and service users has turned into a veritable flood of initiatives...

    • FIVE Workers’ values and commitments
      (pp. 77-96)

      As we saw in the previous chapter, our conversations with development workers revealed a number of important insights about how they related to their work. For example, for the great majority there had not been a conscious career choice to get into development work; rather, it seemed to be more of an expression of who they were, that is, part of their identity. Moreover, many development workers had stayed committed and close to practice despite opportunities for promotion into management. It seemed that keeping in touch with practice performed a variety of functions – renewing their energy, inspiring their imagination,...

    • SIX Negotiating dilemmatic space
      (pp. 97-108)

      We made a distinction in previous chapters between those challenges that are inherent to the role of development workers, operating as they do on the boundary of state and civil society, and those which have arisen more specifically in the context of Labour’s modernisation agenda. As we shall see in more detail in Chapter Eight, the modernisation agenda (Newman, 2001) has created its own dilemmas for such workers. The emphasis on short-term outputs and ‘measurables’, the heightened competition for time-limited funding streams (referred to as ‘troughing’ in some parts of the voluntary sector), the bureaucratic demands of project management work...

    • SEVEN Handling authority relations
      (pp. 109-128)

      Development workers are immersed in complex relations of power and authority, two related although too often blurred concepts. Authority is central to the analysis of public institutions and needs to be explored as such, together with an exploration of the underlying structures of power that underpin them. Development workers are centrally involved with the impact of decisions made by those with power and authority, as these decisions impact on the communities that they serve: policy decisions with significant implications for public services such as housing, education, health and welfare provision, for example. The development worker has a brief to enable...

  6. Part Two: Modernisation and beyond

    • EIGHT Modernisation and community governance
      (pp. 131-144)

      Modernisation has been a key theme for all three Labour administrations in Britain since 1997, with public service reform a central plank. As the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit pointed out in 2007, this was not simply a feature of the previous decade, either. The reform of public services had been a feature of previous governments since the Thatcher/Major years of the last decades of the 20th century, as the state’s role began to be reduced. Public service reform, the Strategy Unit argued, was now ‘centred around the citizen consumer’, with greater choice for service users, whether services were to be...

    • NINE Doing the work: negotiating the modernisation agenda
      (pp. 145-164)

      As previous chapters have already argued, modernisation agendas define spatial and other communities both as part of the problems of exclusion and community cohesion in contemporary Britain and as part of their solution. Communities are defined as constituting social problems, when neighbourhoods become characterised as sites for ‘out of control’ young people, for cycles of deprivation and for conflictual community relations. And conversely, neighbourhoods are being defined as vehicles for public sector reform, invited to step into the democratic deficit that has been associated with the emasculation of local government and the destruction of the social fabric that so often...

    • TEN The future of development work
      (pp. 165-178)

      Reflecting on ‘Writing in and against time’, Back challenges the idea ‘that we can write about societies as if they hold still while we sketch them. What anthropologists call the “ethnographic present” (ie the idea that eternal assertions can be made like “Nuer religion is ...” or “middle-class culture is ...”) simply seems absurd when you think about it’, Back continues (2004, p 204). ‘The idea that we are writing in time, at a particular moment, which is partial and positioned and in place, is a major advance’, he suggests. ‘I think we are also writing against time, trying to...

  7. References
    (pp. 179-194)
  8. Index
    (pp. 195-202)