The balance of power: using the community to get things done

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Synnott, Justin
Issue Date
MA in Anthropology
Dublin Business School
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This thesis demonstrates how the idea of 'community' is an ideology, used politically by different groups, at levels of both state and local authority. I begin by scrutinizing one state sponsored development plan which seeks to alter the way people think about living in Dublin through the transformation of the way 'communities' or neighbourhoods are imagined. I argue that 'community', as conceptualised and encouraged in this policy serves as a classification and as such can be re-read as a particular kind of cultural shift where both individuals and groups are made visible and accountable to the state. Next, I map the dimensions of 'community' in Hollerstown, a predominantly working-class public housing estate in Dublin's Western suburbs. Through the comparison of the dynamics of a community centre, that projects an image of cohesiveness in order to attain the 'needs of the community' through state funding, and the dynamics of particular families in the same area who reveal widespread conflict, I argue that 'community' is an ideology called to task in the attainment of specific goals, enacted at opportune moments and denied at others.