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Durham University

Policy, Professions and Communities Research Group


Publication details for Professor Sarah Banks

Banks, Sarah & Carpenter, Mick (2017). Researching the local politics and practices of radical Community Development Projects in 1970s Britain. Community Development Journal 52(2): 226-246.

Author(s) from Durham


This article introduces a themed section of the Community Development Journal that re-evaluates the British Community Development Project (CDP) of the 1970s, with particular reference to three local ‘radical’ CDPs. It sets the national Community Development Project in context, as an experimental programme of action-research in twelve ‘deprived’ areas, set up in response to the rediscovery of poverty in the late 1960s. It explains the rationale for revisiting the CDPs from the vantage point of the second decade of the twenty-first century, when the structural problems of neoliberal capitalism (especially deindustrialization and globalization), identified as emergent by the CDP teams in the 1970s, continue to impact on disadvantaged neighbourhoods in negative ways. While some commentators have criticized CDPs for focussing more on political analyses than community development practice, this article argues that the long-standing significance of CDPs lies in the way their issue-focussed research informed their radical practice in local neighbourhoods. The article introduces three following papers in the themed section, which illustrate this through case studies of local CDPs in Coventry, Newcastle and North Tyneside, largely based on research conducted during 2014–2016 as part of an Economic and Social Research Council-funded project, Imagine – connecting communities through research.