Integrating economic and community development within the context of rural regeneration in County Durham
Many policy-makers and academics now argue that if development is to be successful, the approach needs to be holistic encompassing different strands of activity and, importantly, the community needs to be involved. Community and partnership are central themes within policy. The rise of partnership working is associated with a shift to governance. The emphasis on community as a target for government action and as having a role to play in policy formation and delivery can be understood as a form of governmentality - governing through community. This thesis explores the integration of economic and community development understood as both the bringing together of different strands of development activity and of top-down and bottom-up efforts. The research focuses on the rural areas of County Durham. It examines development activity at a county level and in three case study areas. Rural areas in the County vary significantly in terms of their socio-economic history and the approach allows comparison of integration in different settings. The contested nature of the concept of community has been largely neglected in previous work drawing on the govemmentality perspective, but is a key part of this work. The findings suggest that many local people are not involved in development activity. There are some new actors, but not mass participative democracy. Blurred boundaries between actors/organisations from different sectors and the power relationships within partnerships cast doubt on the difference between government and governance. Adopting a govemmentality approach shows how governmental technologies influence the integration of economic and community development. In some ways integration is hindered, but the evidence shows that obstacles can be overcome indicating the need to consider local agency and the possibility of resistance. Notions of governing through community need to be qualified with regard to disengagement.