To what extent is the 'New Deal for Communities' an appropriate basis on which to tackle social exclusion?
This thesis provides an examination of the theory and practice of the New Labour government's New Deal for Communities regeneration programme. It provides an account of how New Labour conceptualises socially excluded neighbourhoods and argues that it conceives of three crucial components integral to its prescription for `regenerating' such spaces. These comprise three models: o Agency 0 Community o Exclusion This thesis argues that, collectively, these three models amount to a policy `recipe' encompassing both analysis of alleged deficiencies of excluded spaces and their inhabitants and prescriptions for their physical and social regeneration. In order to explore these models and their explanatory and normative potential, fieldwork was conducted in a New Deal community with a focus on interviewing residents and other intended participants in the regeneration process. The thesis argues, on the basis of this empirical work, that each model is conceptually suspect and produces some questionable practical effects. In particular, it asks whether there is an appropriate understanding of how communities are reproduced by human agents and assesses the expectations placed on residents to be `active citizens' and `owners' of urban regeneration. This raises, in turn, some important questions about the inclusive nature of the New Deal for Communities programme as a whole. The thesis concludes with a discussion of whether the programme can or should be reformed and situates that discussion within an acknowledgement of the tension between central government vision for socially excluded areas and its commitment to localism and devolved decision-making.