Community Development and Co-production: Thinking Critically About Parameters and Power
As the work of community development practitioners is to some degree influenced by social policy, it is important to think critically about the parameters a particular policy discourse may construct. In this paper I propose using Gaventa’s (2006) ‘power cube’ as a framework for analysing the possible parameters which co-production constructs for community development workers, specifically where it situates them in terms of the power they have access to. Firstly, I will explore where one might initially assume community development finds itself situated in the context of co-production and will highlight some of the opportunities this offers practitioners, specifically the potential for renewing democracy, using an asset-based approach and the opportunities to facilitate empowerment. I will then pose a more critical analysis of the parameters that co-production creates by exploring an alternative view of where co-production might situate community development and the dilemma this may pose – that of furthering the global reach of neoliberal ideology. I will conclude by suggesting the ways in which community development workers can continue to carry out meaningful, radical work – regardless of the parameters created for them by a particular policy discourse – by continuing to be critically reflective.
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