This is the website and blog of Dr John Lever.

Friday 1 April 2011

What generates a participatory disposition in non-governmental actors?

A new paper in the Voluntary Sector Review provides a timely exploration of the contextual factors that underpin the participation of non-governmental actors in partnership work with state actors

Abstract: This paper examines developments in governance and non-governmental public action in three diverse contexts. It is based on comparative international research that examined the role of non-governmental actors (NGAs) involved in partnership working with state actors in Bulgaria, Nicaragua and the United Kingdom. The paper draws on Crossley's (2003) development of Bourdieu's (1977) 'theory of practice' to examine the contextual factors that influence the participation of NGAs in 'new governance spaces'. It highlights three very different responses to the 'opportunities' that governance offers, which illustrate how historical processes mould civil society relation's vis-à-vis the state in highly significant ways. Although governance presents many obstacles to change, the paper concludes that the new forms of participation that are appearing in these spaces may be the foundations from which more significant change emerges. Key Words: Civil Society; Capital; Habitus; Non-Governmental; Participation

Saturday 5 February 2011

Urban regeneration and partnership working under New Labour

Lever, J. (2011) ‘Urban regeneration partnerships: a figurational critique of governmentality theory’, in Sociology 45 (1)

Abstract: This article provides a critique of governmentally inspired accounts of urban regeneration and partnership working. Drawing on the work of Norbert Elias and prominent figurational sociologists, it discusses the changes taking place within andthrough the many partnerships set up by New Labour around the notion of ‘community safety’. Although recognizing the important insights provided by accounts of urban regeneration emerging through studies of governmentality, the article argues that such accounts fail to adequately consider the impact of partnership working on the individuals, communities and organizations involved. While urban regeneration partnerships have the potential to be the motor of the civilizing process in the manner identified by figurational sociologists, the article concludes that they are not currently living up to this civilizing potential.

Key Words: Civilizing process; community safety; Elias; Foucault; governmentally; partnership working; urban regeneration.