Session: The Politics of Urban Development and Community Change (Society for Social Work and Research 20th Annual Conference - Grand Challenges for Social Work: Setting a Research Agenda for the Future)

282 The Politics of Urban Development and Community Change

Sunday, January 17, 2016: 11:30 AM-1:00 PM
Meeting Room Level-Meeting Room 16 (Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel)
Cluster: Organizations, Management, & Communities
Symposium Organizer:
Amy T. Khare, MSW, University of Chicago
This symposium aims to shed light on theories and research that investigate the relationship between urban politics and community-based efforts to address problems related to the disinvestment and redevelopment of low-income neighborhoods. It aims to create an interactive forum to engage Social Work scholars in questions about the contemporary political challenges associated with creating and contesting community change.

The objectives are two-fold. First, the session will introduce participants to theoretical perspectives on community organization and relate those perspectives to broader urban economic and political processes. Second, the session will present findings from three empirical investigations of urban politics and community action.

This symposium includes four 20-minute oral presentations followed by an interactive dialogue. The first speaker will situate this unique historical period within the history of Social Work practice and, in particular, grassroots community organization. The goal is to frame the contemporary context in which political action and community organizing shape the responses to structural and policy changes taking place in urban environments in the context of the United States and the United Kingdom.

Then, three empirical studies that investigate the role of community organizations and political actors in shaping decisions about development of urban neighborhoods will be shared. These qualitative research studies center on housing and urban redevelopment efforts within two Midwest cities. Presenters will each share the background, methods, results, and implications of these investigations. These case studies are based on research with practitioners, advocates, housing providers, resident-leaders, public officials, and others engaged in divergent approaches to influence community-based redevelopment initiatives.

Together, these four presentations expand on previous work that shows how priorities of community-based organizations are shaped by and are influential within the contemporary neoliberal context (DeFilippis et al. 2010; Sites at al. 2007; Stoecker, 1997). By learning about different cases taking place in different urban contexts, we can see how the possibilities and limitations for community change transcend particular neighborhoods. Furthermore, challenges faced by community organizations are more clearly illuminated when situated within perspectives about larger macro socio-political and economic structures. While some community organizations take on the dominant narratives reflective of normative market-driven interventions, others engage in more radical approaches to community change centered on grassroots mobilization.

* noted as presenting author
The Interstitial Role of Neighborhood Organizations in Local Governance
Robert Chaskin, PhD, University of Chicago; David M. Greenberg, PhD, MDRC
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