Critiquing and Analyzing the Effects of Neoliberalism on Community Organizing: Implications and Recommendations for Practitioners and Educators
AbstractAlthough community organizing has historic and current roots as a mode of practice, characterized by people coming together to collectively address unmet needs and/or challenge inequality, neoliberal trends beginning to form in the 1980s have negatively impacted community organizing. Neoliberal values, which promote individualism, capitalism, the existence of welfare states, and reform from solely within the system are concerning to the future of community practice. This article provides a critique and analysis of the impact of neoliberalism on community organizing in three areas: The influence of evidence-based practice on dictating how community organizers practice, a lack of focus on social movements in community organizing, and the professionalization of community organizing, which marginalizes nonprofessionals engaged in community organizing. This article exposes potential problems arising from within community organizing as a result of neoliberalism. In order to uncover and analyze the major effects of neoliberalism, we propose a theoretical framework that combines critical theory and Foucault’s work on social control. We end the analysis by providing recommendations for practitioners of community organizing as well as for educators teaching about community organizing.
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