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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Examining multiple discourses of community development in a collaborative community-based organization Millar, Sydney Nicole

Abstract

In an effort to increase the quality and relevance of the programs, municipal recreation departments are partnering with community-based organizations and community members through a community development approach (Hutchison & Nogradi, 1996; Millar & Frisby, 2002; Searle & Brayley, 2000). However, the use of community development across diverse sectors has created multiple discourses as practitioners translate theory into practice and attempt to resolve conflicts between social justice goals and financial imperatives, creating ambiguity in collaborative contexts. Therefore, the primary purpose of this study was to examine the multiple discourses of community development used by community workers involved in a collaborative community-based organization designed to increase the involvement of women in low income in recreation decisionmaking and participation. A secondary purpose was to examine the implications of multiple discourses in this context. The research methods involved three data collection techniques in two phases over a 20 month period. Two semi-structured, one-on-one interviews were conducted with three community workers representing a municipal recreation department, a women's centre, and a family service agency. This data was enhanced with field notes and observations of meetings. Data analysis was assisted by Atlas.ti, a qualitative computer software program. The findings revealed a unique discourse of community development used by each research participant that had implications for how community development was conceptualized, the goals identified, and the role of the community worker in the process. For each discourse, central dimensions were identified and one significant tension was discussed. The analysis also explored the influence of personal experience and organizational context, and examined inconsistencies, contradictions, and resistance to other discourses that demonstrated the complexities involved in community development practice (Alvesson & Skoldberg, 2000; Weedon, 1997). This study also identified three implications of multiple discourses that both enhanced and inhibited collaboration. These findings demonstrated the complexities involved and the importance of communication and new strategies to decrease conflict and develop shared meanings to accomplish social justice goals. Given the dynamic tensions described in this study, recommendations for future research and practice were provided.

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