Rival theories of community (powerpoint presentation)

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Rival theories of community change. The study of ‘community’ has had fluctuating fortunes but is back in vogue. At times criticised for functionalist bias (questioning the assumption that constituent parts fit together purposefully) and at other times criticised as under-theorised (the old criticism that community research is merely descriptive), community researchers have been revitalised through engagement with a range of rival theories. This paper sets out how the concept of ‘social capital’ has been used drawn upon extensively in recent community research, although not necessarily with the same theoretical foundations, with Bourdieu, Putnam and Coleman’s versions sitting uneasily alongside each other in terms of the conclusions to which they point regarding community change. Similar points can be made about other concepts such as ‘social networks’, ‘social support’ and ‘social solidarity’, along with the point that a shared terminology does not necessarily imply a shared methodology. The analysis then goes on to consider the different things that researchers look to a theory of community change to deliver in their analyses, including explanations of the patterns of change, the pace of change, the drivers of change and the mechanics of change. Inequalities and hierarchies relating to social class, gender, ethnicity, age and other dimensions of diversity now routinely figure in explanations of community change that are advanced by researchers, deepening, extending and bringing up to date currents in thinking about community that go back a long time.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2019
EventBritish Sociological Association Annual Conference 2019 - Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 24 Apr 201926 Apr 2019


ConferenceBritish Sociological Association Annual Conference 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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