Neoliberalism, new managerialism and the new professionalism in community development
This thesis explores the ways in which community development in the context of local government in Scotland has been transformed by new managerialism and neoliberalisation. Community development has traditionally been understood in Scottish local authorities as an approach to working within those sections of local government responsible for Community Education (CE) and Community Learning and Development (CLD) and consequently this thesis also considers the impact of new managerialism and neoliberalisation on CE/CLD. Methodologically, this work is informed by ethnographic research undertaken in three local authorities. In addition, it draws upon a theoretical approach to neoliberalism and new managerialism influenced by Michel Foucault (1926-1984) and governmentality theory. The concept of neoliberalism is at the heart of this work and in the context of local government neoliberalism is based upon a number of themes; first it is interconnected with an economic policy of austerity which has resulted in unprecedented cuts to local government budgets. In addition, private sector and civil society organisations take on a greater role in providing public goods and services and in this context the role of local government becomes that of purchaser rather than provider of services. Neoliberalisation also involves the introduction of techniques and practices associated with new public management or new managerialism. Moreover, these techniques are influenced by practices and values drawn from the world of business and they have been introduced in local government in order to make local authorities more entrepreneurial and competitive. I argue that the impact of neoliberalisation and new managerialism on community development has been transformative. In particular, reforms related to austerity have hollowed out community development as an ‘approach to working’ within integrated CE/CLD services. In this changing context practice is increasingly defined by the priorities of government and new fields of work have emerged with youth work and adult education shaped by employability and community development framed as an approach to working within those sections of local government responsible for Community Planning and Economic Regeneration. Community development emerges in this new environment as a way of working which can (in theory) reduce public expenditure and this has resulted in its methodologies – participation and community engagement, being used by local states as a means to involve communities in the everyday management of local austerity programmes. In addition, community development approaches are also drawn upon to encourage community based organisations to acquire public assets and become new players in the burgeoning public services delivery market. New public management techniques have been introduced across the field which include computerised management information systems, workplans and team plans with quantifiable targets and measurable outcomes, audits and appraisals. The introduction of these techniques correlate well with austerity and I suggest that their aim is twofold; decrease public expenditure whilst making professionals more productive in terms of delivering government policy. I argue that traditional professionals are being de-professionalised especially as their roles become bureaucratised as a consequence of new managerialism. Yet, rather than the death of a profession I suggest that professional practices have also been reconfigured and adapted to meet the requirements of the new times. From this perspective professionals are re-professionalised by new managerialism and neoliberalisation and one of the main propositions I put forward is that a neoliberal model of community development has emerged which has produced a new professional subject who has learned to think and acts in ways shaped by neoliberalisation. This analysis is indebted to Foucault who saw in neoliberalism not only an economic policy but also a new rationality for governing human beings.