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Challenging neoliberalization at the urban grassroots: A participatory action research case study of community empowerment

Darby, Stella Joanne Clark (2016) Challenging neoliberalization at the urban grassroots: A participatory action research case study of community empowerment. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

This thesis examines values-based practices at Oblong, a small charity in Leeds, UK, arguing that this grassroots organisation challenges neoliberalization processes and promotes social justice through developing purposeful practices for values-based reflection and collective action. Alongside a practical focus at Oblong, this research has developed a theoretical perspective of transformation of neoliberalization which challenges dominant discourses by affirming the value and power of small organisations’ work. Exploring the limitations and tensions of this project’s processes of co-production, this thesis draws parallels between processes of transforming neoliberalization through social justice work and creating grounded, co-produced and value-rational research via academic institutions. Three papers, formatted for journal submission, form the main body of this thesis. The first paper, ‘Making space for co-produced research “impact”: learning from a participatory action research case study’, advances the ongoing debate around the developing UK impact agenda, arguing for the significance of value-rational research and its promotion through increased space and recognition for the alternative impacts created by co-produced research. The second paper, ‘Listening for social change’, provides a conceptual and practical analysis of listening practices demonstrating how such practices make essential contributions to the promotion of social justice values. The third paper, ‘Dynamic Resistance: Third-sector processes for transforming neoliberalization’ constructs a holistic framework for analysis and practice of contestation of neoliberalization processes by third-sector organisations. Drawing on systems thinking and theories of neoliberalization as process rather than entity, this thesis argues that values-based practices and processes at Oblong exemplify such organisations’ significant power and potential to resist and transform neoliberalization processes at their sites of impact. Recognising the complexity, non-linearity, and interconnection of processes of neoliberalization and contestation, I further argue that a focus on values and processes must necessarily balance goal-oriented social action in order to create sustainable and empowering change for social justice.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Related URLs:
Keywords: participatory action research, co-production, neoliberalism, neoliberalization, values, social change, social justice, resistance, resilience, grassroots, third sector, listening, impact
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds) > School of Geography (Leeds)
Depositing User: Dr Stella Darby
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2017 13:37
Last Modified: 20 Mar 2017 13:37
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/16543

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