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Durham University

Department of Sociology

Sociology Department Staff

Publication details for Dr Andrew Orton

Orton, A. (2007). Contesting “good practice” in faith-based action for social change diversity, dialogue & dilemmas in Christian community work. Journal for Faith, Spirituality and Social Change 1(1): 20-33.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Faith-based community work is currently receiving a high level of policy interest from diverse organisations and government bodies in England, based on its perceived potential to address a combination of policy, organisational and individual interests. Building on emerging findings from qualitative research with participants in this contested field across these levels of interest, this paper analyses the complex agendas shaping the contemporary construction of the concept of ‘good practice’ for Christian community workers in the current policy and practice climate. Based on this analysis, some of the resultant tensions and dilemmas facing those involved are highlighted, from policy, practice, and theological perspectives. In light of the rationalistic tendency of many of these agendas to evaluate any work based on their own standardised model (which, it is argued, internalises rather than recognises these tensions), the paper proposes an alternative basis for practice, founded in ongoing processes of critical, reflective learning, and which recognise the
organisational dynamics concerned.