Informed by austerity politics and the disillusionment with classical welfare policies, governments are looking at civil society as provider of community services. Citizens are supposed to establish community enterprises to provide services that were before administered by the state. We contextualize the emergence of this policy ideal as part of a wider process of neoliberalization, and in a study on community centres in Amsterdam we investigate how the ideal works out in practice. Drawing on an inventory of 183 community centres and 49 interviews with representatives of community centres, we distinguish different constellations according to civic participation and funding sources. While almost all respondents emphasize that they want to become more entrepreneurial to generate funds to sustain their initiatives, only one of the centres conforms to the ideal of an independent community enterprise. Enduring dependence on formal institutions is widespread. However, instead of acknowledging that structural state support is apparently necessary to sustain these types of activities, community centres have to make it seem as if they are nearly financially independent in order to qualify for funding. Despite the fact that their civic action is tightly circumscribed by the demands of funders, community centres act out the ideal of autonomous community enterprises.
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Emiel Rijshouwer and Justus Uitermark
In the continuing aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis, many European countries are implementing austerity measures and cuts in public policy, alongside longer trends of welfare state retrenchment. To mitigate these trends, governments are putting more emphasis on active citizenship. Citizens are supposed to take responsibility and organize themselves to fill in gaps left by spending cuts in health care, education, employment and neighbourhood governance. Active citizenship is currently perceived as a viable alternative to state-based welfare provision. While not necessarily restricted to poor areas, community enterprises (CEs) in the Netherlands respond to these changes by providing services or other benefits that are crucial to the well-being of residents in deprived neighbourhoods. Inspired by British CEs, residents in Dutch cities are trying to set up community enterprises, but they face huge challenges. The transition from ‘subsidy-dependent’ resident committees to entrepreneurial, independent community-based enterprises with a sound business model is fraught with difficulties. This chapter provides an account of emerging Dutch CEs, based on a panel study with repeated interviews. The analysis reveals strong tensions between community-based, entrepreneurial activism and the responses of local professionals. While the interviewed professionals claim to strive for co-production, the responses of their institutions are more that of ‘counter-production’, as they struggle to find a healthy balance between ‘letting go’ of bottom-up resident initiatives and ‘fitting’ them into existing practices and routines.
Ana María Peredo and James J. Chrisman
In a context of increasing globalization and neoliberal economic policies, to what extent can local communities respond to the social, cultural, economic and environmental impacts posed by those processes? This chapter provides a conceptual foundation for understanding one particular community response that emerges from local cultural and collective action. ‘Community-based enterprise’ (CBE) is the vehicle in which the community creates an entity that constitutes the community as both an entrepreneur and an enterprise addressing economic, social and environmental challenges holistically. We define ‘CBE’, as a community acting corporately as both entrepreneur and enterprise in pursuit of community common good. This form of enterprise departs from traditional models of entrepreneur in which the agent is an individual or a group of individuals. The basis for this chapter begins in communities in the global south, but extends to communities in the global north. It examines the social, environmental, economic and/or political conditions associated with the emergence of CBEs. It also points out the role that collective action, forms of social capital and size play in its creation. We consider also their typical characteristics such as rootedness in available community skills, multiplicity of goals as well as prevailing community participation and governance structures. The effects of CBEs on fostering entrepreneurship within communities as well as similar developments in neighbouring communities are outlined as well. We discuss challenges to CBE in the form of balancing individual and collective outcomes, of reconciling social, economic and environmental goals and withstanding the pressures of globalization and generational change. We conclude by outlining a future research agenda.
Social enterprise is a hybrid sector lying between the public and private sectors. One part of this broad category is community enterprise where not-for-profit organizations are established to address particular social, economic and environmental priorities. These organizations often operate in defined areas where significant sections of the population experience relative deprivation or social exclusion. This chapter discusses the growth and nature of community enterprises (CEs) and in particular the sub-set of asset-based community development trusts (CDTs), which have evolved in Britain since the 1970s. It begins by discussing the definitions of the CE sector and then explains how urban regeneration policy has evolved in Britain in order to increasingly encourage the transfer of assets and service delivery to third sector bodies. Three models are then used to outline the key dimensions of different CDTs using a number of examples. The conclusions confirm that CDTs are often fully committed to seeking sustainability while operating on the margins of profitability and only the larger, more sustainable CDTs can make a significant contribution to wider regeneration strategies operating at urban or metropolitan levels. But greater flexibility is needed in transferring assets and integrating CEs more closely with broader regeneration strategies. However, major gaps in knowledge of the sector remain particularly in relation to questions of scale and breadth of impact. Overall, CDTs can be seen as part of a response to the neoliberal terrain of austerity and the gradual retrenchment of the public sector at the local level but may offer new opportunities for co-production.
Marianne de Beer and Veronique Schutjens
This chapter’s focus is on inter-firm networks of entrepreneurs located in residential neighbourhoods in the Netherlands and, in particular, on the importance of local inter-firm cooperation contacts and changes therein over time. If local inter-firm cooperation networks exist and become more important over time, the neighbourhood economic tissue might be strengthened and eventually benefit both incumbent firms and new entrepreneurial activities. Based on previous literature, we differentiate in our analysis between a number of characteristics, for example, firm age, firm home-basedness and firm local market orientation. Two waves of The Survey on the Social Networks of Entrepreneurs (in 2008 and 2014) provided us with a panel of 197 entrepreneurs active in over 140 residential neighbourhoods in 40 Dutch municipalities. For both years, the entrepreneurs mention one cooperation contact on average, and for local contacts this average is even lower. Therefore, we conclude that neither local cooperation nor cooperation in general is a common strategy. Using ordered logistic regression models, we found that over time, the average number and importance of local cooperation contacts hardly changed, although it did increase significantly for home-based firms, whereas it decreased for young firms. However, these findings disguise substantial turbulence in cooperation contacts at the individual (entrepreneurial) level. Between 2008 and 2014, almost 90 per cent of both total and local cooperation contacts were replaced by other contacts, emphasizing the ‘temporary coalition’ character of small neighbourhood firms’ cooperation strategies.
Towards an Understanding of the Economies of Neighbourhoods and Communities
Edited by Maarten van Ham, Darja Reuschke, Reinout Kleinhans, Colin Mason and Stephen Syrett
Nick Williams and Colin Williams
The aim of the chapter is to evaluate how entrepreneurial activity is influenced by the individual and area characteristics through a focus on deprived residential urban areas. Although barriers commonly associated with entrepreneurship are not exclusively faced by entrepreneurs in deprived areas, they are likely to be more acute than in relatively affluent areas. We demonstrate the importance of understanding the socio-spatial contingency of entrepreneurship, meaning that entrepreneurial activity is influenced by the social and spatial context in which it occurs. Often entrepreneurial activity in deprived urban areas will be small in scale, with individuals entering trades with low entry barriers and with finite and highly localised demand. This presents a challenge for policymakers as supporting these businesses may simply result in other existing businesses which are not supported failing, resulting in no net gain for the area. In addition, despite the numerous barriers to entrepreneurship present in deprived areas, they do not lack entrepreneurial activity per se. Instead, the chapter shows that a ‘hidden enterprise culture’ exists, with entrepreneurs in deprived areas more likely to engage in entrepreneurship in the informal economy, which we define as activities that are legitimate in all respects besides the fact that they are unregistered by, or hidden from, the state for tax or benefits purposes. The chapter concludes by providing a number of policy implications for fostering entrepreneurship in deprived urban areas.
Jenny Lendrum and Sarah Swider
This chapter explores the gendered spatial arrangements and practices of informal entrepreneurial and economic activities in one neighbourhood in Detroit, Dtown. Using ethnographic methods, we explore how the larger political economy and spatial arrangements and practices shape the social relationships which mediate exchanges in the informal economy. The ways in which urban space is structured shapes and supports social networks and challenges dichotomous relationships of space. We show the fluidity of space as women carve out and use space in the neighbourhood in new ways to create and sustain networks of economic and social importance, challenging the standard conceptualization of private and public space. We present three types of gendered space based on usage: public, private, and domestic. We show how: 1) public spaces are gendered, which disallows/prevents women from utilizing these spaces in ways that benefit or enhance their opportunities for economic gains and access to resources; 2) private spaces such as businesses are gendered in ways that limit interactions for women but are tailored to men’s interactions; and 3) domestic spaces operate as the public when cash-generating activities are conducted in this space and have become more public as they are used for economic, community and social activities. Our data show the gendered ways that public and private space is blurred and suggest that we should not only look at how public spaces are contested or become privatized but also the process by which private space becomes public. These gendered and racialized processes have important implications for women’s social and economic opportunities, often created through social networks, which should be investigated further.
Evan Casper-Futterman and James DeFilippis
In the United States, the decades-long shift in focus of Community Development Corporations (CDCs) from organizing to confront political and economic elites to affordable housing development and service provision has been well documented. In the critical urban studies literature, this trend towards a particular kind of conflict-free community development is met with dismay at the increasing prevalence of capitalist market-based logics into ‘excluded’ urban neighbourhoods, and even to the scale of individual subjectivities. We argue that this binary rubric – pro-market or anti-market – for evaluating CDCs is, however, insufficiently nuanced. We aim to further expand our understanding of entrepreneurial CDCs and their approach towards, and use of, market logics. In this chapter we use the case of the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative (BCDI), to argue that the use of markets in community development is more complex than the usual neoliberal critique. BCDI is a multi-stakeholder community economic development initiative that seeks to build community wealth among low- and middle-income residents of the Bronx by enlarging the scope of local economic actors and policy. BCDI's vision is for entrepreneurialism in which the local businesses are embedded in networks that support community organizing and what they call ‘economic democracy’. In their pursuit of organizing a platform of economic democracy for the Bronx, BCDI shows that it may indeed be possible to construct local political-economic institutions that make use of markets that are accountable to, and operate in the service of, more just cities.
David Varady, Reinout Kleinhans and Maarten van Ham
The global economic crisis has had a major impact on government spending for urban regeneration. In the context of these austerity regimes, in many European countries, community entrepreneurship and active citizenship are increasingly considered as a means to continue small-scale urban revitalization. This chapter investigates recent literature on both British community enterprises (CEs) and American community development corporations (CDCs). The aim is to assess the current potential of community entrepreneurship in neighbourhood revitalization in the United States and the United Kingdom. Starting from a seminal article, this chapter reviews literature focusing on the role of CEs and CDCs in neighbourhood revitalization. Differences and similarities are analysed, taking into account national context differences. While CDCs have a relatively successful record in affordable housing production in distressed areas, CDCs are fundamentally limited in terms of reversing processes of community decline. CEs in the UK have focused on non-housing issues. Our comparison reveals similarities but also differences with regard to aims, organizational characteristics, cooperation on multiple scales, and community participation. Apart from lessons that can be learned, we provide recommendations for further research that should cover the lack of empirical evidence in this field.