UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Community capacity building : a role for neighbourhood houses in community revitalization Larcombe, Karen


Urban communities are undergoing a period of rapid change prompting concerns about community fragmentation. By building social cohesion and revitalizing civic participation, community development is viewed by many as a remedy to offset the weakening of community ties. This thesis explores how a community agency- based worker might help a fragmented community (re)build itself. By employing a single case study methodology, this thesis applies community development theories and related concepts to examine how a multicultural neighbourhood in east Vancouver mobilized community action. The case study found that a community capacity building framework, when supplemented with other community development tools, is an effective model for strengthening community leadership and building social connections. The study draws attention to the different kinds of social and cultural capital required to develop neighbourhood solidarity and bridge cultural differences in creating an inclusive community building process. The community worker was based in a unique form of community agency called a neighbourhood house. By providing resources needed for encouraging leadership and developing social connectedness the neighbourhood house was found to be a key asset for building community capacity. However, the study revealed that a neighbourhood house's participation in community building is constrained by the multiple community roles and relationships that it must maintain to ensure operational funding and a stance of political neutrality in its everyday dealings. The case study concludes with a set of recommendations for basing community development functions in a neighbourhood house.

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