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Claiming their space: Rethinking the role of local community organizations in social justice work

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Claiming their space: Rethinking the role of local community organizations in social justice work

Ravensbergen, Frances (2010) Claiming their space: Rethinking the role of local community organizations in social justice work. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

Local community organizations can contribute to social justice work. They provide an entry point for citizens’ activism in community life. They develop relationships with citizens that endure over time. They can document both quantitatively and anecdotally the impact of unjust government policies and business practices on people’s lives. They provide an ongoing space for citizens to congregate and from which to organize.
A case study was undertaken to better understand the specific roles local organizations can take on to contribute to social justice work. Two organizations working in English in Montreal were studied. Primary data was collected from interviews with 13 current and former staff and senior volunteers.
The study highlights the challenges and opportunities for local organizations to contribute to social justice work within the existing neoliberal context. It concludes that while local organizations may not be at the centre of progressive social change, they can and need to claim, and re-claim, their space in this work by clearly stating their intent and organizing their programs and services to work for collective justice. They can shift their empowerment work to reach beyond the individual and the local to collaborate with like-minded organizations. By implementing alternative structures they can more fully reflect social justice principles and put them into practice.
Claiming space in social justice work requires an articulated analysis of what social justice is and how it can be worked on within the existing neoliberal context. This includes being prepared to work with conflict when confronting power. Community organizations need to claim their space more fully in the work for social justice.

Divisions:Concordia University > School of Graduate Studies
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Ravensbergen, Frances
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Special Individualized Program
Date:August 2010
Thesis Supervisor(s):Shragge, Eric
Keywords:community organizations, local social justice work, Quebec community sector
ID Code:36265
Deposited By:FRANCINA E. RAVENSBERGEN
Deposited On:29 Mar 2012 08:32
Last Modified:29 Mar 2012 08:32
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