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About this book

How important is the notion of community to skilled social work? This book explores how the concept relates to policy, theory and professional practice. With analysis of contemporary social problems throughout a variety of community settings, this book demonstrates how important community-based approaches are to all social workers today.

Table of Contents

The Social Construction of Community

Frontmatter

1. Introduction to the Idea of Community

Abstract
This book offers a critically progressive and we hope inspiring, contribution to contemporary social work theory and practice. It is primarily aimed at assisting a developing understanding of the relationship between social work and the concept of community. It is written and published at a significant time in the development of UK social work, and social work education, which in our view has much to gain from community-based approaches. The book seeks to effectively engage with the complex social problems inherent in a twenty-first century postmodern society that has closely adhered to the demands of globalisation and neo-liberal economics.
Paul Stepney, Keith Popple

2. The Contribution of Community Studies and Increased State Intervention in Communities and Neighbourhoods

Abstract
To appreciate and understand the enduring interest and appeal of the concept of community, we need to explore the different, and at times contradictory and contested, theories that highlight the term. To operationalise this we have spent some time in this chapter considering a number of important community studies that reflect the diversity and changing nature and understanding of community from the impact of the industrial revolution up to the present time. Traditionally, community studies have been primarily concerned with the interrelationships of social institutions in a locality. Community studies have understood community as ‘a space defined by multiple contiguous social networks’ (Ray, 2006). Further, these community studies provide invaluable accounts of how people lived in particular neighbourhoods and the problems they encountered.
Paul Stepney, Keith Popple

3. Rethinking Community — Globalisation, Neo-Liberalism and Inequality

Abstract
The aim of this chapter is to provide a critical examination of community as a site for ideological conflict and oppression. We are concerned here with the impact of inequality and discrimination and examine these in terms of class, ‘race’/ethnicity and gender. We also consider the establishment of new communities in Britain with the influx of economic migrants, asylum-seekers, refugees and ‘undocumented persons’.
Paul Stepney, Keith Popple

Community as an Area of Social Policy

Frontmatter

4. Community as an Organising Focus for Social Policy

Abstract
During the post-war period the concept of community has increasingly become a central organising focus for policy analysis and debate. This can be seen in responses to the rediscovery of poverty in Britain’s inner cities in the 1960s (Abel-Smith and Townsend, 1965) through to New Labour’s New Deals for communities in the new millennium. The idea of community has featured prominently in a raft of contemporary policy proposals designed to modernise and reform the welfare state, particularly in adult community care, children’s services and mental health. Also in the forging of a new partnership role with the voluntary sector — see Chapter 5. The notion of an active community has been advanced to signify a new relationship between the state and the citizen, premised upon a belief in the need for the state to demand more from those who receive its services. Such an embracing and ever more demanding policy prescription has, as will be explored in Part III, influenced the nature of contemporary social work practice, captured by the slogan ‘tough love’ (Jordan, 2001).
Paul Stepney, Keith Popple

5. Community Care: Promoting an Empowering Service or Using the Market to Contain Costs?

Abstract
The term community care has become a highly contested and ambiguous concept. It tends to be interpreted in a variety of ways, as the above quote illustrates, leaving provider agencies with the dilemma of matching rhetoric with reality at a time of finite resources. Its use in policy debates can be traced back to the 1930s when it was used to refer to non-institutional provision (Denney, 1998). More recently community care has been defined as ‘the various efforts to help ensure that people who are in need of care remain in the community’ (Thompson and Thompson, 2005, p. 1). This is likely to consist of a package of care including practical, personal, social and emotional support to help maintain or restore people to a safe and satisfactory level of independence (Centre for Policy on Ageing, 1990).
Paul Stepney, Keith Popple

6. Remaking Community: Communitarianism and the Modernisation of the Welfare State

Abstract
The aim of this chapter is to explore the rise of communitarianism, both as an ideology and a social movement, and assess its impact on social policy. The concept entered policy debates during the 1990s and quickly gained widespread appeal especially, as the above quote suggests, for those on the political right seeking to make communities more receptive to market-based reform. Communitarian ideas have also been taken up by New Labour and translated into the ‘third way’ project to modernise the welfare state. In offering a critique of communitarianism a brief outline of an alternative discourse based upon transformative action will be set out — this perspective will be taken up and developed further in the chapters concerned with community-based practice in Part III. The remaking of community, with a greater emphasis on partnership and collaboration, has since 1997 become central to the reforms and provides a clear moral message for both welfare professionals and service users alike. The impact of policy on practice will be illustrated with reference to altering the balance between protection and prevention in child care (Stepney, 2006a), and more generally in the reconstruction of social work as ‘tough love’ (Jordan, 2001).
Paul Stepney, Keith Popple

Social Work and the Community: From Theory to Practice

Frontmatter

7. The Theory and Practice of Community Social Work

Abstract
There is a certain ambiguity about the current identity and status of community social work (CSW). This in part reflects a paradox concerning limitations in the predictive capacity of social work to resolve many of the problems it identifies in the community, in its theory and practice (Hugman, 2005), at a time when, as the above quote notes, methods of community intervention are being brought back into use. CSW has undergone a transformation from the pioneer days of small patch teams being set up by local authorities in the 1980s (Cooper, 1983) alongside preventive projects in the voluntary sector (Holman, 1981), to become part of a process of social inclusion and neighbourhood renewal (Popple, 2006a). However, underlying such development is a tension about the changing relationship between the state and its citizens. In particular, whether the modernised state can promote change at the local level in favour of marginalised groups, and develop preventive policies for collaboration and inclusion whilst resisting pressure for more enforcement and control (Stepney, 2006a).
Paul Stepney, Keith Popple

8. Community Work and Community Action

Abstract
The focus of this chapter is the consideration of the location and role of community work and community action in contemporary UK society. In doing this we will make links with both the historical development of social work and community work and community action’s current context.
Paul Stepney, Keith Popple

9. Future Possibilities for Community-Based Social Work in an International Context

Abstract
As we move further into the twenty-first century, not for the first time, social work appears to be at the crossroads. It has become abundantly clear that social work now operates within the context of the global economy and is increasingly shaped and critically judged by the criteria of the market, in terms of its performance, efficiency and outcomes. It would seem that the day of the universal welfare state is over. Practitioners in the developed world face a vast array of similar problems whilst their governments have been developing a diverse range of policy responses to manage socially differentiated populations. Paradoxically, such responses may still result in quite similar practice outcomes (Stepney, 2006b). This is despite the fact that there are significant differences among European welfare states — for example, in the proportion of GDP devoted to spending on social protection (see Table 9.1 below), the range of municipal priorities and percentage of the population at risk of poverty both before and after social transfers (see Table 9.2 below).
Paul Stepney, Keith Popple
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