The role of community development in the modernising local government agenda, with specific reference to the local democratic deficit

Scott, Matthew. 2012. The role of community development in the modernising local government agenda, with specific reference to the local democratic deficit. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis examines the interplay between community development and local government modernisation as practised in three neighbouring London Boroughs in the East and South East of London. By using qualitative approaches to research the field, including ethnography and semi-structured interviews with a range of statutory and community practitioners, the research seeks to examine a variety of stakeholder perspectives.

‘Community development’ in its UK context over recent decades has, as a distinct process, skill set and discipline, attempted to realise the potential of regeneration programmes and address the democratic deficit found in local government. It therefore reflected many of the main concerns of New Labour modernisation policies, appearing to be well placed to make a strong contribution to ameliorating social ills.

There is recognition in this research that whilst government policy demonstrably changed some local structures, the corollary of actual community empowerment cannot be guaranteed or assumed. Through the testimony of local politicians, councillors, activists, managers and Community Development Workers the research examines the extent to which the principles and practice of community development were able to support modernisation as a programme of social reform and the wider factors that shaped the efficacy and transmission of policy.

The reflexivity of the researcher as a community development practitioner with twenty years experience adds a deep and especially close engagement with the material. The researcher as a practitioner passionately wants to know ‘what works’ in relation to a shifting, often contradictory field of policy. By using ethnographic methods this research examines the concrete experiences and spaces in which community development and modernising reforms take place.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


Community development, local government, modernisation, democratic deficit, New Labour, community empowerment, localism

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Social, Therapeutic & Community Engagement (STaCS)


December 2012

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

03 May 2013 08:23

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 13:43


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