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6 Things To Explore About Community and Development

Community development is “process of interaction and discovery” (Copestake and Williams, 2014). Good community development, in my opinion, is participatory and engages with all community stakeholders. It is the responsibility of those who work in community development to explore the unwritten stories and factors: physical, social, environmental and institutional which affect an area and communities.


What follows are a series of resources which, in my opinion, are a great place to start exploring more participatory approaches to community development. Some of these are articles, some blog posts and some books. I’ve included the ISBN of all books to make it easier to search for in your local library.


Can We Know Better? Reflections for Development (Robert Chambers)

ISBN: 9781853398230

Chambers’ work is participant centric work within development. His practice explores conversation, fun and observation of power dynamics which impact development. Whilst I recommend his entire back catalogue, I really enjoy the honesty in this book - particularly when it comes to working with large institutions.


Community Development: A Critical Approach (Margaret Ledwith)

ISBN: 9781847426468

This is a great book for starting to explore methodologies around community development. It includes theories and practitioners reflecting on their own practices. I find myself going back to look up case studies or explore practice all the time.


Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race (Reni Eddo-Lodge)

ISBN: 1408870584

It is not black people’s responsibility to constantly explain racism or privilege to others. I’ve found this book has made me more aware of my own privilege, but has also given me more information to start useful conversations, and be a better ally. Racism is a systemic and institutionalised issue within our society, and if you work in community development it is your responsibility to educate yourself.


Understanding relationships in culturally complex evaluation contexts (Jill Anne Chouinard)

Read the paper here

Chouinard is a specialist in culturally responsive, participatory evaluation and this paper explores culturally complex evaluation. A form of evaluation which acknowledges that all those involved in a project have a variety of experiences and identities. This includes the privileges of those held by development workers and how this may affect community development.


Politically Smart, Locally Led Development (David Booth and Sue Unsworth)

Read the report here

ODI are an independent and non political think tank who explore international development. This report includes a variety of case studies, documenting locally led development interventions and the role of donors/funders in community development. This report is a great read to highlight the importance of developing local partnerships and relationships within development, but also of being reminded that development is a process of discovery - and sometimes that means trying things again.


Child Participation in Local Governance: UNICEF Country Office Case Studies (UNICEF)

Read the report here

One of my favourite case studies in this report explores participatory budget setting in Nepal, but it includes case studies from across the world. This report is mainly focused on projects which support the UNCRC - the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a document which highlights rights children should have, such as the right to have a say in their lives, and the right to play.


The Importance of Play (David Whitbread)

Read the paper here

This is a great introductory paper to the importance of play and the effect that good play provision has on children. Play supports linguistic, emotional, physical and social development; and is prevalent in all societies. Whitbread’s work explores its significance and ways that government can support play through policy.

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