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The well-connected community (Second edition)

The well-connected community (Second edition): A networking approach to community development

Alison Gilchrist
Copyright Date: 2009
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  • Book Info
    The well-connected community (Second edition)
    Book Description:

    Since the publication of the first edition of The well-connected community there has been a growing recognition in practice and policy of how networks contribute to the vitality of community life and civil society. Government policy has increasingly emphasised the need to involve communities in decision making, while social capital is increasingly associated with health, low levels of crime, educational achievement and a strong 'sense of community'. The well-connected community aims to strengthen and extend informal networks, support partnership working across boundaries and promote social cohesion. It explores the concept of 'community' in relation to patterns of interaction, social identity and mutual influence, advocating a new model of community development that promotes networking as a skilled and strategic intervention and providing recommendations for good networking practice. This fully updated second edition includes new ideas drawn from recent research on social capital and the policy context for community practice, reflecting the increasing emphasis on community engagement and empowerment. Recent case studies and examples have been added throughout. The well-connected community is aimed at practitioners, trainers, policy makers and managers working with communities or responsible for community participation strategies, both in the UK and internationally. Academics will also find it a useful source for teaching and research.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-784-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of tables, figures and boxes
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Preface to the second edition
    (pp. vii-x)
    Alison Gilchrist
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. ONE Community networks: their significance and value
    (pp. 1-22)

    Community development is fundamentally about the development of ‘community’ and it therefore makes sense to begin by examining what we know and understand about the concept. This book is based on a belief that the experience of community is generated by and manifest in the informal networks that exist between people, between groups and between organisations. Community provides a crucial dimension to our lives and is a persistent theme within policy making. The idea of community is generally regarded as a force for good: a means of survival and progress. But without becoming cynical, it is important to remember that...

  7. TWO Community development
    (pp. 23-46)

    Chapter Two provides an overview of community development, focusing on its evolution as a form of professional intervention. It traces the history of community development over the 20th century, and examines applications of core methods and values in relation to a number of government programmes. The role of community development workers in supporting networks is briefly highlighted, in preparation for a more detailed consideration in the following chapters.

    The term ‘community development’ is often used to describe participatory interventions that promote self-help and service delivery when the state is unable to satisfy community aspirations. It is “about interacting with people...

  8. THREE Network theory and analysis
    (pp. 47-60)

    In recent years the concept of networks as a form of organisation has gained in currency both as a metaphor and as an explanatory tool. The term ‘network’ seems to have been first used in academic literature by Radcliffe-Brown in 1940 and early sociologists recognised its significance as an aspect of social living (Warner and Lunt, 1942). It offers a useful model for examining the interactions of daily life and thinking about community dynamics. Within community development, networks are increasingly seen as the means for co-ordinating collective action, supporting the activities of practitioners and providing important means of communication through...

  9. FOUR Network functions
    (pp. 61-82)

    Perhaps the most important, although somewhat tautological, function of networks is their capacity to support networking: enabling people to share ideas, consolidate relationships, exchange goods and services, and co-operate. Networks generally operate on the basis of shared values and informal connections that are maintained by a general reciprocal commitment. They differ from formal organisations in being less dependent on structure and tend to function through personal interaction between people who know (or know of) each other. For community development purposes, networks are important because they:

    provide robust and dispersed communication channels;

    facilitate collective action;

    underpin multi-agency partnerships;

    support citizen engagement;...

  10. FIVE The principles and processes of networking
    (pp. 83-98)

    Networking involves the creation, maintenance and use of links and relationships between individuals and/or organisations. Networking itself is a neutral tool – it can be used for a variety of purposes – selfish, political, altruistic or simply to get things done. Networking for community development is obviously influenced by key values around equality, empowerment and participation. It is increasingly seen as a popular, albeit mildly manipulative, means of gaining personal and political advancement. Following Dale Carnegie’s classic bestsellerHow to win friends and influence people(1937), there are a growing number of guides on how to attract (and presumably retain)...

  11. SIX Networking for community development
    (pp. 99-120)

    Interpersonal relationships within communities and between organisations need to be given greater significance to ensure that they are developed and maintained in ways that contribute to outcomes such as empowerment, cohesion and capacity building. Networking clearly involves both ‘common’ courtesy and good communication. It is about maintaining a web of relationships that can support a useful and empowering flow of information and influence. In particular, this chapter will examine how community development workers facilitate the networking of others, whether colleagues, partners, policy makers or members of the communities they work with. It looks at what community development workers actually do...

  12. SEVEN Complexity and the well-connected community
    (pp. 121-138)

    Networking can be used to develop the ‘well-connected community’ but why are networks such a ubiquitous aspect of community life? We have seen that networks are especially effective modes of organisation in managing changing and complex situations. They are based on relationships, not simply connections, which are sustained through interactions and reciprocal exchanges between individuals. The personal, emotional dimensions are important. The evidence from practice suggests that networking is a holistic process, involving a strategic interweaving of knowledge, skills and values. It is a vital aspect of community development, as well as supporting multi-agency partnerships and alliances that span organisational...

  13. EIGHT Issues and implications
    (pp. 139-160)

    It is now generally accepted that networking is essential to the community development process and that without it other functions that are more formally recognised as the purpose of community work become difficult or impossible to carry out. The National Occupational Standards for community development practice in the UK identify networking as a key role (FCDL, 2009), reiterating the assertion in the Standing Conference for Community Development Strategic Framework, which states that:

    Networking is important because it provides access to information, support, resources and influence. It enables co-operation between practitioners, researchers and policy makers in different sectors through the development...

  14. NINE Developing the well-connected community
    (pp. 161-176)

    The complexity model of community development suggests that an important outcome of the community development worker’s interventions is being overlooked – namely the extent to which community networks are strengthened and diversified. As indicated earlier, crucial aspects of community development can be reconceptualised as ‘meta-networking’: the maintenance and coordination of interpersonal and inter-organisational relationships within complex systems of interaction (Gilchrist, 1999). Community development workers perform an undervalued function in facilitating interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral partnerships, with a particular role in identifying and supporting community members to work with others around shared issues and goals (e.g. Oladipo Fiki et al, 2007).


  15. Suggested further reading
    (pp. 177-178)
  16. References
    (pp. 179-222)
  17. Index
    (pp. 223-234)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 235-237)