Community involvement in urban development
The research deals with the development of participatory municipal democracy, with
inter-communal relations, and with the relations between communities and the urban
establishment regarding urban development in towns. The study analyses and examine
the processes in which residents, members of a geographical community whose borders
overlap the residential units in a town, and who are not elected or appointed by the
authorities, can influence decisions relating to the policy, planning, and design of a
town's urban space.
Part I - Chapter 1 presents an overview of the paper. Chapter 2 positions the context of
the research in the space and time in which Israeli society and its urban fabric have
Part II - presents the methodology and methods of the research. In Chapter 3, the
theoretical framework of the study discusses issues like the geographical community,
relation between civil society and the state, and new social, urban, and physical realities
in a community. Chapter 4 presents the research objectives, the research questions, and
the method of data collection applied in the study, such as the questionnaires
administered to 73 heads of local authorities throughout Israel; questionnaires
administered to 243 residents; interviews with some 20 experts and 11 players in the
case-study analysis of 16 events of communal involvement that took place in 14
different local authorities; text analyses, and an analysis of urban plans.
Part ill - presents in Chapter 5 a review of the field and general background of the
Part IV - presents the current social context in Israel. Chapter 6 describes actual
changes and events that influenced the issue, while Chapter 7 outlines the characteristics
of community involvement.
Part V - the case-study of Mevasseret Ziyyon is presented - displaying social action in
urban development, with an analysis of community involvement and conflict in city
planning. Chapter 8 provides the story of the place and the master-plan in conflict;Chapter 9 presents the context of the conflict. Chapter 10 presents the practical
dimensions and dynamic of the conflict. Chapter 11 describes the dimension of human
influence, and Chapter 12 shows the symbolic dimension of values, events, and
interpretation of the community and establishment.
Part VI - sets out the conclusions of the research. Chapter 13 presents the finding of the
research, Chapter 14 the discussion while Chapter 15 the contribution of the study.
The main fmdings show that, despite the importance attributed by the community and
the establishment to communal involvement in urban development, there is a gap
between the reality and what is aspired to. There is disparity between the declaration
made by the mayors regarding the importance of community involvement, and what
they actually do in this context. The civil culture of the community is not sufficiently
developed and only a minority of the community residents (15%) is in fact involved.
Community involvement takes place in two polar patterns of activity: conflict from
'below' when the community objects to the establishment, and cooperation from
'above' with the establishment. Cooperation was found to be the more successful
optiol1.' At the community level, during a conflict about the master-plan of Mevasseret
Ziyyon, the members of the elite the residing in the community appear to be at an
advantage, due to their ability to recruit knowledge and information, and also because of
their understanding of the 'language' of urban planning, in designing and planning
space in a manner that accords with their values, beliefs and needs.
The study can be seen from two points of view. The first, which relates to the
construction of social reality, deals with the development of urban participatory
democracy, and addresses issues such as education for democracy and active
citizenship, and a fair dialogue with the community in terms of quality of life and the
The second relates to the construction of a physical reality, and deals with the design
and plarming of the environment. It relates to issues such as learning and understanding
interpretations of urban space, the design thereof, how the city will look, who will live
in it and how, and what sense of place and quality of life those people will have.