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In this introductory chapter, the aims and ambitions of the book are set out and explained.
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.
Edited by Keith Townsend, Mark N.K. Saunders, Rebecca Loudoun and Emily A. Morrison
Chapter 1 (by Greve) sets the scene for the book by examining the various definitions of the concepts of evaluation and best evidence and looks at the different models involved. He then presents an overview of the content of the book, which is divided into three parts: I: What Evaluation Is and Examples of Methods, focusing on the definition of evaluation and the different methods; II: Evaluation and Policy, with a focus on evaluation and policy-making; and Part III: Evaluation of Concrete Social Policy Areas, which looks at the present state of the art within different central welfare policies. The chapter ends with a discussion on the book’s limitations.