Complexity and communities: The application of complexity to community studies

Large, David (2015) Complexity and communities: The application of complexity to community studies. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Abstract

Understanding community dynamics has always been a challenge for policy-makers. Often community policy has been ineffective and wasteful. This research explores and sets out an alternative, complexity-informed approach to community studies.

The research develops an innovative, two-stage interview methodology informed by complexity considerations. This methodology is applied to two case studies of community-based organisations in Newcastle upon Tyne. The two case studies allow a comparative assessment of the complexity-informed methodology. In this way, the research uses a complexity-informed approach to produce a holistic and realistic view of the community being examined. By analysing the contribution of those present the research is able to capture information that is relevant and that may be used to bring about change. Complexity-informed approaches are thus shown to be open, flexible, insightful, confidence-building and engaging, when considering people living and working in communities.

The research finds complexity considerations to show that, to be effective, public policy needs to offer choices to local people as to how they want to interpret local government policy in their area. This requires more than evidence gathering and assessment of the evidence gathered. It requires the active involvement of the community. Complexity factors such as interaction and emergence are used to identify important relationships and to assess social, economic and environmental changes from the community point of view. These are considered in the context in which they occur and for as long as the situation applies.

A complexity-informed approach is shown to open the way for community interventions based on community views and needs. In doing this complexity is able to support genuine decision-making and action by communities for communities. Through discussion and reflection, the thesis finds this to be a suitable basis for public policy formation.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: G100 Mathematics
L700 Human and Social Geography
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Mathematics, Physics and Electrical Engineering
University Services > Research and Innovation Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 04 Jan 2016 13:24
Last Modified: 08 May 2017 21:41
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/25244

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