Items where Author is "LOWE, Kwame"

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Social Infrastructure for the 21st Century: The Cases of Every One Every Day and the Idea Stores
Over the course of the last 30 years, changes in governance trends have led to a growing opportunity for citizen participation in decision-making at the level of local government. The 2011 Localism Act enshrined this in planning policy. However, the voluntary uptake of participatory planning mechanisms has been mixed at best. Areas with wealthier communities with more resources have been more likely to see these opportunities realised in a way they are not in areas with less affluent communities. UK planning policy does not specify the means by which local authorities should engage their communities but social infrastructure is implicated as a possible way to do this. This dissertation will therefore explore the potential contribution social infrastructure could make to empowering communities to play a more active role in the planning system. Community empowerment will be defined by using the concept of social capital and Sen’s capabilities approach. There has been considerable interest in libraries and participatory culture spaces since the start of the 21st century for their ability to generate social capital and broaden communities’ capabilities. This dissertation will look at two examples from East London. The first being Every One Every Day, the UK’s biggest participation scheme, in Barking & Dagenham and the second being the Idea Stores, a chain of modernised libraries, in Tower Hamlets. These examples will be used to make the case for a new type of social infrastructure that can empower communities and contribute to achieving participatory planning in line with the evolution of governance and recommendations in current planning policy. The findings from this study suggest that participatory culture spaces and libraries sit among wider networks of social infrastructure that, when combined, facilitate the social life and political power of communities across the UK to a greater or lesser degree.

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