Reconnecting people and communities? : participation in partnerships and the labour market : the impact of local regeneration initiatives
In response to some of the negative economic consequences of globalisation, there is considerable international interest in participatory styles of engaging local communities. This method of community engagement also has local expression in response to social and economic exclusion. A number of theoretical approaches and debates on social exclusion, which have occurred on both sides of the Atlantic are explored. In the UK and in the US current policies are set within a supply side context. This attributes social exclusion to the characteristics of people and deprived places, leading to targeted area interventions. In contrast with previous approaches, the current policy framework requires explicit community participation. This thesis explores the concept of participation, specifically in relation to targeted programmes in Hackney, East London, and with reference to urban programmes in New York. A qualitative approach is employed to address a specific set of research questions concerned with; identifying the extent to which an ethnically diverse constituency of local stakeholders have been engaged in and empowered by local initiatives; what they consider to be the benefits and constraints of such strategies and their effectiveness in addressing what they consider as their most pressing concerns, including forms of labour market discrimination. A number of theoretical issues concerning community, capacity building, and empowerment in the context of partnerships are also addressed. The key conclusions are that local interventions provide value for participants in relation to extending networks and acquiring specific skills. However, the thesis also concludes that effective participation as envisaged by policy makers is difficult to achieve. There are constraints on local actors in their ability to affect the fortunes of their localities. While recognising the limitations of area interventions to address the consequences of processes over which they have little control, the thesis concludes by making suggestions on how future policies might address local issues more effectively.