Tag Archives: community development

‘Blurry by Design: Public Matters on Social Enterprise’ on KCET Artbound

I had the great fortune of working with Public Matters last year and learned a lot, much of which I didn’t expect. Namely, as I explain in this KCET Artbound post, Blurry by Design: Public Matters on Social Enterprise, how an activist art collaborative strategically blurs the lines between the antithetical institutional logics of the market and social movement to green East Los Angeles’ food desert.

I had fun the whole time because they’re fun the whole time. (Yes, even with institutional logics!)

1_ELARA_Lab

East L.A. Renaissance Academy Student researchers in the Toxic Edibles Analysis Lab from the video “Have You Noticed How Much Junk Food We Eat?”
From left: Jocelyn Herrera, Martha Meija, Omar Vargas, Amisadai Hernandez.

 

 

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the on-the-street political reality of CicLAvia…it’s totally nice

Some of you might know of CicLAvia, LA’s biannual celebration of bikes, feet, skateboards, roller skates, roller blades…anything non-motorized, really. We and many of the world’s cities have Bogotá, Colombia to thank for originating the Ciclovia concept of shutting down city streets to car traffic for real, street-level participation, and straight-up giddy physical engagement with our built environments. The streets are packed and yet the people are smiling.

Angelenos have CARS (Community Arts Resources) for its wildly successful adoption, as well as galvanizing multiple, much needed, bike lane designations throughout the city. If you needed proof of political buy-in, please cast your eyes upon this picture of the tracings of a photo-op. Yes, we were just in front of City Hall, and yes, that is a bike lane. Meta.

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Wilson, W.J. & Taub, R.P. (2007). _There Goes the Neighborhood: Racial, Ethnic, and Class Tensions in Four Chicago Neighborhoods and Their Meaning for America_. New York: Vintage Books.

Richard P. Taub, PhD Sociology from Harvard University, is Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago. His research in urban sociology includes economic development, poverty, social change, India, and Honor. Currently he is studying urban, rural, and community economic development, the nature of entrepreneurship, public policy and policy initiatives’ implementation, and the way neighborhood contexts shape aspiration. (See other entry for Wilson’s bio.)

Studying four distinct ethnic neighborhoods in Chicago and applying Hirschman’s (1970) exit, voice, and loyalty theory, Wilson and Taub “test” to see to what extent are Hirschman’s assumptions correct and what conditions inspire loyalty and the attendant exit or voice responses. They find Hirschman’s theory does apply and that America is “likely to remain divided, racially and culturally” (161).

Race and ethnicity matter. Differences in “belief systems, values, worldviews, linguistic patterns, even skills” (162) become outwardly manifest as barriers to intercultural communication. This separation is either voluntary (exit) or imposed (voice) following a power struggle in which one group successfully restructures  the movement of the subordinated group “through forms of residential, educational, and occupational discrimination, often justified by racist ideologies” (162). The more entrenched a social system, the less likely racial boundaries will give way; it’s even less likely the barriers will be challenged.

“The essential point is that long-standing or current residents often see the presence, even the threat, of different ethnic, racial, and class groups in the neighborhood as undesirable” (165).

The Beltway residents used voice, prompted by a need to stay in the city limits for municipal jobs, intense social organization, connections with local government, and like belief systems. The Dover Mexican enclave will become more Mexican because the erstwhile white population is opting for exit and will continue to do so. The single common ground between the two populations was against nearby blacks and a public school busing program.

Archer Park lacks loyalty. Long since a Mexican stronghold, the neighborhood is regarded more as a “stepping stone” community, therefore lacks traditional neighborhood stewardship. Despite the overwhelming Mexican majority, there is still distinct racial antagonism against nearby African Americans in demonstration of superior social standing.

The African American Groveland is the most loyal of all communities. While there is some anti-white sentiment, most interest in inward-focused on building a positive black identity. The only immigration into Groveland is by lower-class African Americans, which concerns current residents.

Findings:

  1. when residents sense the threat of inmigration, they will either exit or join forces with neighbors to fight change
  2. strong social organization will use voice
  3. the less faith, the faster the exit, and the faster the “tipping point” to a new majority population
  4. there are some “integration maintenance programs” which are just modern takes on redlining policies, consistent with structural racism

Policy recommendations:

  1. create an atmosphere first of local coalition building, then multiracial national coalitions, and
  2. end “laissez-faire racism” (Bobo, 1997), the belief that the circumstance of the African-American is his own fault and that he is therefore undeserving of government assistance.

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Wilson, W.J. (1987). _The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy_. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.

William Julius Wilson, PhD Sociology from Washington State University, is one of twenty University Professors at Harvard University. He has taught sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the University of Chicago; his expertise is in civil rights, the inner city, poverty, race, social policy, and urban policy. Much of his work has been controversial, particularly The Declining Significance of Race, the critique of which was the impetus for The Truly Disadvantaged. His book When Work Disappears has been credited as an inspiration of the second season of HBO’s The Wire.

In this astounding and devastating work, Wilson addresses the ghetto underclass in a comprehensive analysis, putting into “candid terms the social pathologies of the inner city” (viii), attributing the inner city’s plight to racial discrimination (historical more than contemporary), changes in the family structure, and misdirected public policy.

Part I discussions comprise: inner city social changes; the controversy surrounding the term “underclass;” an explanation of how the liberal viewpoint (i.e. the plight on disadvantaged groups can be related to the problems of broader society) ceded primacy to the conservative (i.e. where different group values are emphasized as are competitive resources to explain disadvantageds’ experiences); and the problems of the inner-city (e.g. violent crime, out-of-wedlock births, female-headed households), which can’t be explained by racism alone but are component to a complex web of factors including changes in the urban economy and class transformation in the city.

The structural economic changes of the postindustrial era have left African Americans of the inner city worse off than there were in the 1960s. Deindustrialization’s evaporation of manufacturing and demand for knowledge workers has resulted in stark male joblessness rates, particularly among young black men. Joblessness during youth, to Wilson, is indicative of structural weakness in the economy.

Wilson’s terms, per below, demonstrate this is not a “culture of poverty”:

  • concentration effects — the significance of the social transformation of the inner city; increasing joblessness has the most cataclysmic effect in areas of highest concentrations of poverty
  • social isolation — “the lack of contact or of sustained interaction with individuals and institutions that represent mainstream society” (60) Castells (1998) later refers to Wilson’s research in his social exclusion and Fourth World sections.
  • male marriageable pool — the viable marriageable pool of African American men is shrinking, leading to the increase in out-of-wedlock and female-headed homes
  • social buffer — when the middle and working class families left the declining neighborhoods, they took with them the critical institutions that buffered the neighborhoods from degrading into extreme poverty
  • social organization — “working arrangements of society…that specifically involve processes of ordering relations with respect to given social ends and that represent the material outcomes of those processes” (133)

In Part II, Wilson advocates for universal policies, noting that the most race-focused programs, such as affirmative action, in fact assist the already advantaged. He agrees with Fishkin’s (1973) “principle of equality of life chances,” that if we can confidently predict a person’s fate in society just by knowing their race, sex, or family conditions, “then the conditions under which their talents and motivations have developed must be grossly unequal” (116-117).  Therefore, he argues, a “program of economic reform characterized by rational government involvement in the economy” (112) is needed. Education and jobs for minority mobility are needed. Poverty should be seen as a reflection of insufficient education and skills delivered by a flawed economic system. Minorities in inner cities are vulnerable to recessions and structural economic changes. Wilson’s hidden agenda is a move from group-specific policy to a macroeconomic policy for better economic growth and a tight labor market (e.g. on-the-job training, apprenticeships).

We need “to improve the life chances of truly disadvantaged groups such as the ghetto underclass by emphasizing programs to which the more advantaged groups of all races and class backgrounds can positively relate” (155).

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Von Hoffman, A. (1994). _Local Attachments: The Making of an American Urban Neighborhood, 1850 to 1920_. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Alexander von Hoffman is a historian and Senior Research Fellow at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. He is now Lecturer in Urban Planning and Design in the Department of Urban Planning and Design. Prior to that, he was an associate professor of urban planning and design at the Graduate School of Design and fellow at the Taubman Center for State and Local Government.

Von Hoffman presents a revisionist view of the late 19th and early 20th century American urban neighborhood. He argues there has been an uncritical view of urban sociology (Tönnies, 1887) and that historians have largely ignored the nuanced development of the urban neighborhood’s economy, social networks, and transportation systems, as well as the impact of the decentralized, localist political structure.

Using Jamaica Plain in Boston as a case study, von Hoffman shows us an urban neighborhood whose establishment was unique and diverse. Land use analysis illustrates several specialized subdistricts for residential, commercial, and industrial manufacturing, not concentric circles or Euclidean zones. Social patterns were likewise diverse, as were the occupational statuses, religions, socioeconomic statuses, and the supportive, robust social organizations and religious institutions. Even women were active members in their own public, if separate, sphere.

Strong local economies along centralized commercial corridors encouraged local booster/community leaders, as well. Politics in the neighborhood were universalist, which was to the area’s, if not the directly adjacent community members’, benefit in terms of the Olmsted-designed public parks and expansive green spaces. However, this universal moralism had a more ambiguous impact on municipal government reform, which succeeded in changing a once “heterogeneous whole” into “homogenous parts” (239), initiating a “citywide battleground where moralism and group identity clashed” in the new “unstable [political urban] framework” (239).

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Sampson, R.J. (2008). What Community Supplies. In: J. DeFilippis and S. Saegert, eds. _The Community Development Reader_. New York and London: Routledge, Ch. 19.

Robert J. Sampson, PhD Sociology from SUNY Albany, is Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University and Senior Advisor in the Social Sciences at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

Sampson’s objective in this essay is to define what we mean when we say “community,” understand what community does and can do for its residents, and how much we can do as planners. He first distinguishes between Community Lost (Wirth, 1938), Community Saved (Wellman, 1979), and Community Liberated (Wellman, 1979). Sampson espouses the latter and sees modern urban community formation as stretching beyond local proximity.

Community is not something that fills our private/personal needs, but is “a site for the realization of common values in support of social goods, including public safety, norms of civility and mutual trust, efficacious voluntary associations, and collective socialization of the young” (164).

Operationally, they can be seen as “subcommunities” (Choldin, 1984). Ecological differentiation concerns structural characteristics and the consequent social problem bundles that vary across neighborhoods; of particular importance are “concentration effects” (Wilson, 1987).

Sampson’s definition includes the social with the geographical. The networks of social capital (Coleman, 1988; Putnam, 1993) need to be joined with structural networks and linkages of “mutual trust and the willingness to intervene for the common good” (168). This determines a neighborhood’s collective efficacy. Sampson concludes with a caution against local determinism. Neighborhood residents can, in truth, take community organization and building only so far. Extra-community factors of political economy have enacted great changes in communities, all beyond the control of their residents.

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McKnight, J.L. & Kretzmann, J. (1990). Mapping Community Capacity. Center for Urban Affairs and Policy Research, Northwestern University.

John L. McKnight is Professor of Education and Social Policy and Co-Director, the Asset-Based Community Development Institute at Northwestern University. His research is on social service delivery systems, health policy, community organizations, neighborhood policy, and institutional racism. He now directs research projects focused on asset-based neighborhood development and methods of community building by incorporating marginalized people.

John P. Kretzmann, Sociology and Urban Affairs PhD from Northwestern University is Co-Director, the Asset-Based Community Development Institute and Research Associate, Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University. He works to develop community-oriented public policy at the national, state and local levels.

This paper advocates for the capacity-focused model, which allows a community “to assemble its assets and capacities into new combinations, new structures of opportunity, new sources of income and control, and new possibilities for production” (3). The needs-based model, by contrast, maps community pathologies and encourages clientelism; no one can build on such things. The capacity-focused alternative focuses on the skills and assets of a low-income neighborhood and its residents. Two reasons for the capacity-focused model: (1) evidence shows communities improve only when the residents are personally invested (which is why top-down and outside-in are less successful), and (2) we have little reason to think that major firms will move into these neighborhoods and act as jobs flagships, and even less reason to believe more money will flow from federal coffers.

Not all assets are equally available for mapping. The easiest, primary building blocks are located in communities and controlled by residents themselves. The two categories are: (1) individual capacities, captured by the Capacity Inventory, including individual talents, personal income, gifts of “labeled” people, individual local businesses, and home-based enterprises; and (2) associational and organizational capacities, subsuming citizens associations, associations of businesses, financial institutions, cultural organizations, communications organizations, and religious organizations.

Secondary building blocks are those located in the community but governed elsewhere. Neighborhood acts conduct surveys and design strategies to bolster the productive use of these relationships. There are three categories: (1) private and non-profit institutions such as higher education, hospitals, social service agencies; (2) public institutions and services including public schools, fire departments, police, libraries, parks; and (3) physical resources, including vacant land, houses, commercial and industrial structures, and energy and waste resources.

Finally, the least accessible potential building blocks are those located and controlled outside the community. We need to transition public expenditures from maintenance-focused initiatives to local development investments. Welfare expenditures, public capital improvement expenditures, and public information are such investments.

Key to capacity mapping practice is establishing: (1) which organizations in the area can be the best Asset Development Organizations, the Saul Alinsky-esque multi-issue organization or the CDC; (2) what kind of “community-wide research, planning, and decision-making processes can most democratically and effectively advance this rebuilding process in our neighborhood” (18); and (3) how we might solidify networks to share our assets with outside resources. “The task of the Asset Development Organization…involves both drawing the map and using it” (20).

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Kenny, S. (2010). Towards unsettling community development. _Community Development Journal_, 46(Supplement 1): i7-i19.

Sue Kenny is Associate Professor, Director of the Centre for Citizenship & Human Rights, and School of Social Inquiry at Deakin University in Victoria, Australia. She researches community organizations, community development, and capacity building. Her specific research interest areas are: civil society, third sector, sociology of human rights, risk society, uncertainty and globalization, community development, and community studies.

Community development is paradoxical. It entails multiple objectives and contested processes, it upholds and struggles against extant power relations, and it operates at local, national, and international levels. So rather than set an overdetermined form of community development established around the ideas of “social maintenance and defensive active citizenship” (i7), we need a community development that is “unsettled and edgy” (ibid), demanding “critical, proactive, visionary, cosmopolitan and active citizens who are prepared to challenge the existing power relations” (ibid). We need to work within a new third sector, not comfortable, but engaged in deliberative democracy, critical and proactive citizen-making.

There is a lot of literature on the “practices, visions, and ideological contexts of community development” (i7-8), but less on the formal institutional settings (e.g. state, third-sector organizations, sometimes corporate), and even less on those third-sector organizations (e.g. voluntary associations, NGO, community organizations). The discourse pervading community development is determinedly normative, Leftist, and pro-human rights. However, the third-sector approach embraces a third way, both neoliberal in approach and Left-leaning. The emphasis is on the management, rather than the empowerment of, local enterprises.

If we want an “active” citizenry, we need to think about what is, exactly, our conception of “citizenship.” It involves thinking about membership in society, construction of identity and loyalty, support of members (our rights), and contribution to society itself (our obligations). “Active citizens are autonomous, self-conscious beings who are concerned to shape their own destiny” (i9). Community development needs these active citizens because they collaborate for the improvement of their communities.

So what does this mean? Consider four ideal types and their functions of active citizenship: (1) maintenance of existing, asymmetrical social relations (volunteering through third-sector organizations); (2) individualized self-help(ing) that foregrounds individual agency and entrepreneurialism (e.g. neoliberal organizations); (3) defensive opposition, which is oppositional, yes, but within the terms of the prevailing power structures (e.g. letter writing, radio call-ins); and (4) visionary active citizenship, “proactive rather than reactive” (i10).

This mode looks for alternative options and new processes, often adopting deliberative democracy. Cutting across all four typologies are the following aspects of active citizenship:(1) citizenship relates to perceptions about actions or proceedings, (2) the citizen’s interests can be about local, regional, national, global issues, (3) citizens might speak out on their own behalf or others’, and (4) citizenship can be individualistic or collaborative. This matters because community development presupposes the latter form.

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Hayden, D. (1995). _The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History_. Cambridge: The MIT Press.

Dolores Hayden, M.Arch from Harvard University, is Professor of Architecture and American Studies at Yale University. She is the president of the Urban History Association; a former Guggenheim, Rockefeller, NEH, NEA, and ACLS/Ford fellow; has taught at MIT, Berkeley, and UCLA; was founder and president of The Power of Place in Los Angeles from 1984 to 1991; and has published six award-winning books about the character and design of American cities.

Hayden’s is a feminist architectural historian’s perspective, brought beautifully and thoughtfully to bear in The Power of Place. In it she examines the terrain of urban landscape theory and history, as well as tells her story of negotiating the terrain of urban practice, sharing various projects undertaken by The Power of Place non-profits arts and humanities group. She believes we must claim the “entire urban cultural landscape as an important part of American history” (111) and that urban preservation “must emphasize public processes and public memory” (ibid).

“It all comes back to community process” (75).

She asserts that cultural geography, architecture, and social history intersect to create the history of cultural landscape, the production of space and human patterns — cultural identity, social history, and urban design are inextricably linked. Hayden follows Lefebvre (1991), who connected the sense of place felt in the cultural landscape (e.g. biological reproduction [body], reproduction of the labor force [housing], and reproduction of social relations [public space of the city] to the political economy. More, the territorial histories are based concretely and critically in race and gender, as space shapes and constrains social reproduction.

Place is especially important because studying it encourages a reclamation of history and recovery of memory. She advocates for architectural preservation, vernacular especially, because those sites are often where conflicts over power were undertaken, “counter-space.” In addition, she argues for environmental protection and landscape preservation, and public art for public memory. Relevant public art engages the historical and material, and has a “new kind of relationship to the people whose history is being represented” (76).

Hayden speaks of the invisible Angelenos, and the workers’ landscapes and livelihoods. She recounts the stories of and The Power of Place projects for: Biddy Mason, the Latina union leaders of the Embassy Auditorium, and Little Tokyo on First Street. She believes in the power of “shared authority” (Michael Frisch, 1990), and explains the rewards for undertaking the difficult tasks of collaboration for historical preservation:

  • urban history is the richest source for historical study
  • attaching history into city design is quite inexpensive
  • designation of incredibly important places obviates any need to separate out constituencies into academic categories — all are welcome.

“Any historic place, once protected and interpreted, potentially has the power to serve as a lookout for future generations who are trying to plan the future, having come to terms with the past” (247).

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Fisher, R. (2008). Neighborhood Organizing: The Importance of Historical Context. In: J. DeFilippis and S. Saegert, eds. _The Community Development Reader_. New York and London: Routledge, Ch. 22.

Robert Fisher, PhD in Urban History from NYU, is Professor of Community Organization at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work. His specialties are community organizing, urban policy, social movements, social theory, and social welfare history.

Fisher proposes three types of community organizing that have existed in the U.S. since the 1880s: (1) the social work approach, which delivers services to neighborhoods; (2) the political activist approach, which considers power relations and opposition to be paramount; and (3) the neighborhood maintenance approach, which Fisher contends is best described as NIMBYism. Looking at these three types and specific examples, Fisher states: community organizing’s history is relevant. It can articulate all political ideologies and community organizing efforts are fully linked to the prevailing political economic context. The increasingly pro-market, pro-privatization national political economic context has been brought to bear such that it’s directed community development practices the last fifty years.

How? The attenuating welfare state / war on poverty of the 60s was followed by the proliferation of community development corporations (CDCs) in the 70s. By the 80s, these organizations were professionalized/privatized such that now CDCs must “accommodate themselves to [private interests] rather than redirect the course of the free market” (Marquez, 1993, as cited on 190). Contemporary community organizing is both fueled by grassroots efforts and marked by its moderate strategies, which Fisher regards as being “fraught with traps” (192). The organizer often drifts away from on-the-ground activism to negotiating with executives/politicians, becoming more of a broker herself, perhaps leading to the undermining of the cause’s efforts. Fisher predicts community organizing in the future will be more of the same: grassroots efforts with emphases on community economic development and pro-business strategies.

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Eversole, R. (2010). Remaking participation: challenges for community development practice. _Community Development Journal_, 47(10): 29-41.

Dr. Robyn Eversole, Senior Researcher at the University of Tasmania, Australia, is an anthropologist whose work delves into development issues and processes. She studies participatory and place-based development, development governance, cross-cultural development processes, local and community economic development and social enterprise, the role of university in regional development, microenterprise development, microfinance, and migration.

Participation: “a discourse: a way of speaking, signaling (in and implicit binary) that we-as-professionals believe that they-as-communities have something important to contribute to the process of social change” (30).

Participation has a long-held, long-respected tradition of the bottom approach.

“For practitioners deep in conversations about enabling participation, growing social capital, community strengthening, community engagement, or any of the other myriad of terms for local/community participation in development, participation becomes the problem we cannot live without: embedded in our best practice, yet inextricable from it; a central idea, yet unachievable” (31).

Legitimate critiques show participation obscures power asymmetries, understates real difference, and empowers elites and their agendas. However, this totalizing critique isn’t fully appropriate, and in fact the participation problem goes actually deeper than that, bespeaking how formal development agencies see their role as change agents and about development itself. Namely, participation is still about institution to people. The literature shows “how formal institutional leadership continues to define desirable development trajectories” (31).

If community participation is a “mirage” (32), where does this leave community development advocates? Gaventa (2005) says that for community development to work, the development organizations must change with the communities themselves, to reconfigure “the interactions about communities, professionals, and institutions into a truly ‘participatory space'” (32). Participation has really worked in just one direction to date, so the real focus should be on making it multi-directional.

That said, here are the challenges to participatory development processes. First, determining whose knowledge counts. The situated knowledge of the local does what the expert’s cannot possibly, which is the stock of possibilities and constraints. The community also sees the interrelationships, the “seamless fabric of lived experience” (Latour, as cited on 34). Even though their relationships are permeable, there remains the sticking point between communities and experts, namely that the latter are the only ones with valuable knowledge. Second, deciding whose institutions to use. Communities do have their own institutions, though formal development often perceives itself as having “best practices.” The desire for bottom-up change is sometimes hindered by participation fatigue or strategic exclusion, when community members distance themselves from well-intended projects. Third, remaking participation. One can’t make another participate, so the challenge is how to make the practitioners participants.

“…there is a need for translation agents who are comfortable in the circles of both the powerful and the powerless, and who are able to facilitate the journeys of both” (37).

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Eriksson, L. (2010). Community development and social pedagogy: traditions for understanding mobilization for collective self-development. _Community Development Journal_, 46(4): 403-420.

Lisbeth Eriksson is in the Linköping University’s Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning. She studies adult education, community development, folk high schools / folk schools, popular education, and social pedagogy.

Eriksson opens with theories about “community”: a “common value system containing such elements as solidarity, fellowship, and trust” (following Walzer, 1998; Fraser, 2000 [405]), or collection of variables, such as geography, shared interest, or perceived connection with group or place.

In the 1960s, “community development” had no fewer than 94 definitions. Eriksson sees community development’s emergence in the colonial administrators’ actions, the goals being industrial and economic development. In the 60s U.S., community development’s primary objectives were poverty- and race-related problems. Outside experts were presumed then and often now. Today it’s linked to social work, adult education, and urban planning, and comprises both philosophical approaches and specific modes of action, but there is almost always a prevailing social aspect.

Van der Veen (2003) considers community development to be a type of citizen engagement with three forms, each of which operationalizes education, first as training, or consciousness raising, or service delivery. Van der Veen sees the second as resulting from group discussion. “This form starts with learning and the goal is an active act” (411). Education as training can have either an outside or indigenous leader, but the focus is on action first, which comes from the learning.

Like social pedagogy, community development houses both conservative and radical perspectives. The former holds the community is threatened and best restructured through top-down programs, which often lead to well-intended dependency situations. This view believes consensus is possible and desired. The more radical form is about mobilizing people around conflict, not cooperation, for participation in a better world. This emerged in the 1960s and has since lost primacy in the 21st century to the conservative attitude that privileges cooperation and self-volunteerism. “Participation, a bottom-up perspective…[is] advocated by the process is continuously ‘controlled’ and monitored by the pedagogue” (413). This mild form of control, so-called “funneling” stands with the conservative approach’s preference for adaptation and integration, while the radical view calls for full structural change.

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I reflected yesterday. It was hard.

“Media exerts a general influence on forms of perceiving space, objects, and time, and they are tied inextricably to the evolution of humankind’s sense faculties.”

Oliver Grau (2007, p. 140)

I regret to say that as often as not, I start sentences in the middle of my thought process. Generally speaking, I’m the only one not thoroughly confused. (Though not always – my third-gear-before-first approach sometimes gets the better of me, too.) My boyfriend rebukes me lovingly. My advisor assures me there’s plenty of time. Slow down. Think. And yet I persist in running headlong into ideas and projects before establishing the all-important introduction.

This website is no different. I realize now I should have stated explicitly that the annotated bibliographies herein are more descriptive and less analytical; that they’re here to serve as study guides for the late summer intellectual gauntlet that are my qualifying exams. So they’re thin on analysis (perhaps no less thin than my defense of their thinness). In all likelihood, I’ll persist in doing the “then the scholar said this” coverage for the rest of my major and minor field titles, but not today. Today I reflect. Component to this endeavor is a lot of introduction, as much to my intellectual intentions as to the paper itself.

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