Anglia Ruskin Research Online (ARRO)
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Creating successful communities

posted on 2023-08-30, 18:58 authored by Marina Bush
The research set to out examine how successful community is defined in policy, by community members themselves and the extent to which these perspectives align. Successful communities as aspired to in policy are described as ‘places where people want to live’ and which ‘meet the needs of all its citizens’. The perspectives of community members who experience place-making efforts to create successful communities have largely been ignored in the literature, especially in new-build communities. This has led to an incomplete picture of how community is made and experienced by community members themselves, which this project has sought to address. The study is based on a qualitative research design using semi-structured interviews. In-depth semi-structured interviews were carried out with 18 participants in two new-build communities in Cambridgeshire. Thematic analysis was employed in the coding and analysing of the data. Key themes emerged around expectations of communities, perceptions of place identity and reputation, and the notion of being a pioneer or a follower. My findings conclude that participants experienced community building policies as a series of expectations, which were variously confirmed, disconfirmed or left in a state of ambiguity. Expectations related to the constituent parts of their community, only some of which needed to be confirmed in order to see their communities as successful, for example, services or shops did not arrive as expected, and maintaining perceptions of success. This suggests the way in which expectations work in the real world are more complex than has been suggested in the literature and there is a need for strategies to manage expectations. Ideas of how to create and maintain community revealed different participatory activities by participants, not all of which fit with established modes of participation. In doing so, they move from being an (in)active follower to an involved place-ambassador. This suggests a reconceptualization of participation is needed. Overall, my findings yield important insight into the ways in which community members experience community building policies and how they engage in place-making activities.



Anglia Ruskin University

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