(Re)Locating community in relationships: questions for public policy
© 2016 Sociological Review Publication Limited.
This paper argues that we should think of community as being about social relationships rather than a ‘thing’ that is ‘lost’, ‘found’ or ‘made’. The paper draws on the philosophy of Roberto Esposito and the sociology of David Studdert to highlight the overlaps in their approaches to community. Both argue that community is ontological, as unavoidably ‘with us’. The paper then draws upon two empirical examples to argue that this approach could enable a different kind of public policy in relation to community. Policy would focus on existing relationships as the starting point for any efforts to effect social change. The implications for contemporary debates about localism are explored at the end of the paper.
I am very grateful to David Studdert and Valerie Walkerdine for inviting me to the workshop on community and localism held at Cardiff University in April 2014 that stimulated this special issue of Sociological Review. I am also very grateful to the Leverhulme Trust for the research funding and to Nick Coke, Tessy Britton and Laura Billings for their invaluable contributions to the arguments made. The comments from three referees, the editors and Patrick Devine-Wright were extremely helpful in improving the paper.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from SAGE Publications via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 64 (4), pp. 639 - 656