Community Development and the Coalition Government (2010-2015): discourse, hegemony and 'othering'

Andie Reynolds

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

94 Downloads (Pure)


The Coalition government’s (2010-2015) programme of public sector reform and austerity resulted in fundamental changes to the orientation of community development in England. This thesis investigates what happened to community development in England during this five-year period and its implications for professionals, volunteers and local people involved in community development processes. A post-structuralist discourse analysis methodology was operationalised and the empirical work consisted of 20 interviews with key social actors involved in community development processes in a case study local authority in the north east of England. Using post-structuralist discourse analysis, the transcripts were analysed alongside 54 key texts including: discourse by political and policy leaders, national and local policies, and academic debate. This thesis makes an original contribution to knowledge by demonstrating how the Coalition programme silenced community development as a distinct and legitimate practice, and re-shaped it as social enterprise, volunteering and community organising.

The empirical findings establish four available discourses of community development. Yet, the hegemonic Enterprise discourse totalised the policy landscape and ‘othered’ community development as a bureaucratic, top-down, inefficient and ineffective relic of the previous New Labour government. In conjunction with the public sector cuts, this resulted in the decline of the community development worker subject position in England; with community development professionals increasingly nudged to adopt the subject positons of social entrepreneurs, professional volunteers and, to a lesser extent, community organisers. Local people were similarly nudged to volunteer in community development, social enterprise and community organising processes; and more skilled volunteers encouraged to take on professional responsibilities unsalaried. These findings suggest that the silencing and re-shaping of community development as social enterprise, volunteering and community organising is a ‘new’ permutation of neoliberal hegemony to roll-out citizen responsibilisation where local people provide community services rather than ‘relying’ on state intervention and resources.

This thesis concludes that the Coalition programme exploited the ambiguity of community development and, in doing so, exposed four historical problems in the community development field. To protect community development from future attacks, this thesis proposes a genealogical post-doctoral study to unearth these problematic roots to then cultivate a community development free of such underpinnings.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Northumbria University
  • Grimshaw, Lucy, Supervisor
  • Hardill, Irene, Supervisor
Award date31 Aug 2017
Publication statusSubmitted - 29 Aug 2017


Dive into the research topics of 'Community Development and the Coalition Government (2010-2015): discourse, hegemony and 'othering''. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this