'Community' is a much used yet little understood term. Through a set of detailed case studies of communities in action, this book examines the sources of community activism, the ways in which communities define themselves, and are defined by outsiders, and the nature of the interface between communities and public agencies via partnerships. The essays indicate how communities are sites for internal conflict between the young and old, men and women, and for external conflict with local and central government and other public agencies. The important role of women is another strong theme. Contested communities provides detailed pictures of community life on run-down estates in some of Britain's most deprived communities; looks at the way in which local government reorganisation has been influenced by ideas of community; examines some of the problems of partnership; looks at new directions in community organising, such as networking. A vivid picture of people struggling to keep community spirit alive in the face of crime, apathy and public ignorance is built, showing that policies relating to crime prevention and economic regeneration are often made in ignorance of the complexity and variety of communities, often with negative effects. This book seeks to remedy this problem and as such will be highly relevant to both policy makers and practitioners, as well as to students and researchers in the field of public and social policy.
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