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Title: Connective action for regeneration : a comparative case study of social networks andcommunity infrastructure in New East Manchester
Author: Carley, Elizabeth
ISNI:       0000 0004 2734 0988
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2013
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This study explores the mechanisms underpinning policy efforts to build community in deprived urban neighbourhoods using a mixed-method comparative case study. Two neighbourhoods within the New East Manchester (NEM) urban regeneration area are examined, one of which hosted a New Deal for Communities (NDC) regeneration partnership from 1999-2010. In 2009 the NDC successor body established a community forum in each neighbourhood in an attempt to sustain and extend NDC’s participatory practices. The study compares the community infrastructure embodied by the residents’ groups eligible to participate in the forum in each neighbourhood. Social networks data, standard survey metrics and ethnographic material on 61 groups were collected. These elucidate the structure of groups’ relations, their collective action capacity and the extent to which NDC, and its successor, NEM, were implicated in the formation and development of these relations. NDC was the most prominent expression of the New Labour’s social capital-orientated “turn to community” (Duffy and Hutchinson, 1997). However, the final national evaluation of the scheme raised doubts about its impact, finding little effect on community relations at the neighbourhood level (CLG, 2010c). This gap between policy ambition and outcome is probed in this study using new tools and employing concepts from the social movements’ literature, rather than the social capital framework underpinning most existing research on NDC. It focusses specifically on social relations as a metric of community infrastructure, but resists the network analytic tendency to infer community from the mere presence of relations (Blokland, 2003). Instead it seeks evidence of the capacity for pairwise ties to be translated into communal mobilization through the interplay of relational, cognitive and contextual mechanisms, including specific facets of the political opportunity structures (POS) of NDC. The study contributes to debates on policy, theory and method relevant to: the practice of civic engagement and community development in regeneration; the sociology of community in deprived post-industrial neighbourhoods; and the measurement of community capacity and collective agency. Analysis of social networks considers three levels: the connection of individual residents to each group; relations between groups within the neighbourhood; and relations between groups and local service-providers. Results show very similar levels of network connectivity in the two neighbourhoods, but greater evidence of the growth of sustainable grassroots organising and leadership capacity in the non-NDC area. Quantitative and qualitative analysis of POS concludes that NDC was instrumental in generating a constrained, controllable form of community engagement to meet the delivery requirements of the scheme. This process stifled the development of a wider, independent self-organising capacity on the ground, sustainable beyond the life of NDC.
Supervisor: Tranmer, Mark; Bellotti, Elisa Sponsor: Economic & Social Research Council ; New East Manchester
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available