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Rhonda Phillips, Eric Trevan and Patsy Kraeger

Fundamentally, research is the process of discovery and exploration – the outcomes of which range widely from increasing understanding and finding potential solutions to gathering information that may contribute to additional inquiry. Community development as a means of improving the places we live in is a pressing issue more than ever, and further discovery and exploration of it are very much needed. It is our intent to present this volume to spur ideas and innovations in community development. At its most basic, community development is simply about making things better for the people who live there (Musikanski et al., 2019). At its most complex, it is decidedly difficult to identify the most effective or desirable approach as needs, desires, conditions, external and internal influences and confounding factors and resources can vary widely between communities. Community represents agency and solidarity (Bhattacharyya, 1995), and it is critical to understand that community is not only a destination and location but can also include a common set of ideas and values (Trevan, 2016), which inform both research and practice for the co-creation of knowledge. By focusing on research approaches, techniques and applications, we aim to illustrate both the broad complexity of community development and its potential. We hope this will help foster greater understanding of how research contributes to scholarship and to practice, where we see the results of ideas in action.

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James Midgley

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James Midgley

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Peter K. Spink

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James Midgley, Rebecca Surender and Laura Alfers

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Ronaldo Munck

Theories of development and social change most often seek to trace a continuity to the era of antiquity, presumably to show its centrality to the ‘human condition’ and its universal relevance. It is often submerged within an overarching teleological concept of ‘progress’ that colours all aspects of the theory and its application. For us, following Foucault, the pursuit of origins is necessarily essentialist. The critical discourse, or genealogical, approach we adopt needs to be set in the context of complexity, too often elided in both mainstream and oppositional development theory. With the social world becoming more complex and elusive, our research approach has to itself become more nuanced and not be reduced to the study of discrete hierarchical entities. Our approach to development needs to be adequate for ‘a world that enacts itself to produce unpredictable and non-linear flows and more mobile subjectivities’, as Law and Urry argue.

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G. Honor Fagan and Ronaldo Munck

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Abbreviations and acronyms

A Constitutional Political Economy Approach

John M. Mbaku

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Peter A.G. van Bergeijk and Rolph van der Hoeven

Peter van Bergeijk and Rolph van der Hoeven discuss the design and development of the Sustainable Development goals (SDGs) and their strengths and weaknesses. Based on the findings in this edited volume they point out persistent high and/or growing national inequality in different regions in the world. The absence of any concern for inequality in the predecessors of the SDGs, the Millennium Development Goals was a great omission as reducing income inequality is one of the most important challenges countries are facing. Although the SDGs contain a goal to reduce inequality (goal 10) the target related to this goal is wholly insufficient as it relates only to progress of the bottom 40 per cent of the population. There is no sensible indicator to attest the growing importance of the growing cleavage between income of work and income of capital and the income of super rich (the top-1 per cent) which manifest themselves in much more visible form in emerging and in developed countries. The authors argues that concern for income inequality should receive far greater attention in the implementation of the SDGs

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Beatriz Carrillo, Johanna Hood and Paul Kadetz