Beyond sweat equity: community organising beyond the Third Way

Watkins, H.M. ORCID: 0000-0001-7550-9838, 2017. Beyond sweat equity: community organising beyond the Third Way. Urban Studies, 54 (9), pp. 2139-2154. ISSN 0042-0980

PubSub6763_Watkins.PDF - Post-print

Download (396kB) | Preview


This paper explores the ambivalent nature of community organisation as a response to a "crisis of authority" in post-industrial areas subject to urban regeneration. In the discourse of the Third Way, activism has been increasingly discursively framed as "participation", legitimizing a shift in welfare provision from the state onto civil society and a proliferation of private actors. As part of the process, existing local solidarities based on long-term shared interests and histories of conflict with the parts of the state, have been transformed (in theory) into social networks, forms of short-term instrumental co-operation based on consensus. Community activists are brought into
contact with what Rose (after Foucault) describes as the "technologies" of power which are deployed to produce governable subjects, co-opting and dividing them from their base communities. However, local participation also provides our most immediate experience of political economy, what Gramsci identifies as a sometimes fierce sense of difference, and the practical, historically- acquired local knowledge, or "good sense" which can form the basis of a challenge to hegemonic thinking. Engaging empirically with local organisers in the East Midlands, I conclude that the potential of this as a source of contestation depends on two dimensions of practice: (i) the development by activists of a critical understanding of how to foster or maintain long-term collective interests, identity and practices within their communities and (ii) maintaining a clear sense of separation from the state which allows power to be confronted.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Urban Studies
Creators: Watkins, H.M.
Publisher: Sage
Date: 1 July 2017
Volume: 54
Number: 9
ISSN: 0042-0980
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 02 Dec 2016 15:37
Last Modified: 06 Oct 2017 11:28

Actions (login required)

Edit View Edit View


Views per month over past year


Downloads per month over past year