By Paul Henderson
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Extra info for Community Development and Civil Society: Making connections in the European context
At the beginning of the 1990s, community development organisations from nine European countries set up an organisation in order to share ideas and information. This enabled it to make contact with a wide range of traditions and experiences from the cooperative movement in Italy to adult education groups in Scandinavia. Central and eastern Europe The collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe at the end of the 1980s opened the way for the emergence of community development. Many of the initiatives have been small-scale and hesitant but, as we shall see, it is in this region that clear connections between civil society and community development can be made.
There is an inter-dependence between community development and civil society that can make it hard to distinguish between them. At this point we have only made a start on the journey. 27 THREE Community development Community development has always been vulnerable to criticism that it is a term that is both vague and pretentious – claiming too much. Let us begin by taking two examples of how community development tackles local issues: • A community association based in an urban neighbourhood negotiates with the local authority to have a local refuse tip closed because of evidence of leaking gases.
The internationalism of community development is embedded in its past. One commentator goes so far as to state that: From an international perspective, it is clear that community development has been one of the most significant social forces in the process of planned change. (Campfens, 1997, p 20) Over the past 100 years, examples of community development initiatives, programmes and policies can be found in many countries as well as within international agencies. The British government used the idea of community development as part of its colonial policy.
Community Development and Civil Society: Making connections in the European context by Paul Henderson