In-active citizenship and the depoliticisation of community development in Ireland
Gaynor, Niamh (2009) In-active citizenship and the depoliticisation of community development in Ireland. Community Development Journal . ISSN 1468-2656 (In Press)
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At a time of rising stress for communities, families and individuals coupled with a growing disillusionment with government, the concept of ‘active citizenship’ has arrived as a salve to many of the social ills of our time. Emphasising citizen’s own responsibilities, and espousing values of solidarity, community and neighbourliness, active citizenship embodies all that is good, rendering it somewhat immune from criticism. While agreeing that community values of solidarity and neighbourliness are indeed critical, this paper takes issue with what it argues is a significant revisioning of the three core concepts embodied within active citizenship - citizenship, social capital and community development - and argues that active citizenship, as it is currently promoted by state and select civil society organisations alike, substitutes self-help for redistribution and self-reliance for state accountability, in the process depoliticising the principles and practice of community development and denying community actors a voice in their own development.
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