At a time when politicians place increasing importance on the role of 'community' in overcoming social problems, 'Searching for community' asks the vital question 'what is community, anyway?'. Is it an answer to social problems or an illusion to be dismissed?
This insightful book is written from the perspective of the late Jeremy Brent's thirty year involvement as a youth worker in Southmead, a housing estate in Bristol and a place where discourses of community run strong. "Searching for community" presents a variety of perspectives to challenge the ways in which areas of poverty and disrepute are represented. It examines ways to understand and engage with the troublesome concept of 'community', vividly describing the collective actions of young people and adults to show the way community is enacted as a combination of dreams, actions and materiality.
Providing a unique mix of practical knowledge and a sophisticated analysis of popular, professional and theoretical ideas of community, "Searching for community" makes uneasy reading for those looking for simplistic solutions to issues including youth crime, social marginalisation and community empowerment.
This accessible book is a must-read for students and practitioners in the fields of community development, sociology and youth work who wish to get beyond the rhetoric and engage with the complexities of discourses of community.
"Jeremy Brent added more than 25 years of work on a single housing estate to his incisive understanding of contemporary social theory to produce the best book on the contested and slippery reality of 'community' to be seen in years. An absolute must." Paul Hoggett, Professor of Politics, University of the West of England
Jeremy Brent was Senior Youth Worker at Southmead Youth Centre in Bristol for 28 years. He supported his intellectually reflective practice through studies at the University of Birmingham and the University of the West of England. He published several articles in community and youth work journals. Jeremy was an active member of the Community and Youth Workers Union. He died in 2006.
Contents: Foreword ~ Doug Nichols; Introduction ~ Richard Johnson; Four settings: contexts and questions ~ Jeremy Brent; Researching Southmead: problems of representation and participation ~ Jeremy Brent; The intelligent outsider? Official and media representations of Southmead ~ Jeremy Brent; Knowledge from within: community art and local representation ~ Jeremy Brent; The outsider within: crossing worlds ~ Jeremy Brent; Young people and community: trouble and tribes ~ Jeremy Brent; Four examples of community action in Southmead ~ Jeremy Brent; What is community anyway? ~ Jeremy Brent; Engaging with community ~ Jeremy Brent; Article: The smile and the arch: communicating what youth work achieves ~ Jeremy Brent; Postscript ~ Colin Brent with residents of Southmead; Further reading ~ Marj Mayo.