By Akwugo Emejulu
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Additional info for Community Development as Micropolitics: Comparing Theories, Policies and Politics in America and Britain
Through collective decision-making local people learn how to negotiate, strategise and be accountable to each other. By focusing on group consensus, leadership is invested in the collective rather than in any individual. Finally, the process of deliberation helps to build solidarity and sustain people’s commitment to the movement. Here is Ella Baker (1972: 347), an early supporter and mentor of SNCC, discussing the importance of democratic spaces for developing leadership and agency: ‘In the long run they themselves [local people] are the only protection they have against violence and injustice…People have to be made to understand that they cannot look for salvation anywhere but themselves’.
Lead people to believe they will be much better off, but let there be no dramatic improvement. Try a variety of small programs, each interesting but marginal in impact and severely underfinanced. Avoid any attempted solution remotely comparable in size to the dimensions of the problems you are trying to solve. (Wildavsky 1968, 8) This rejection of the non-violent strategy of the Civil Rights Movement through mass rioting was linked to the growing perception of the illegitimacy of the existing political institutions.
Carmichael 1966 quoted in Polletta 2003, 28) Now it is over. The days of singing freedom songs and combating bullets and billy clubs with love. ’ (Lester 1966 quoted in Carson 1995, 237) Through these types of misrepresentations, the Democracy discourse was marginalised by the Power discourse and Polletta (2003) attributes these types of antagonistic practices to contemporary claims that participatory democracy alienates minority ethnic groups and working class people through the imposition of a middle-class white culture onto social change organisations.
Community Development as Micropolitics: Comparing Theories, Policies and Politics in America and Britain by Akwugo Emejulu