Jack Demaine and Harold Entwistle (eds.), Beyond Communitarianism: Citizenship, Politics and Education. London: Macmillan, 1996, £15.99 pbk, ix+216 pp. (ISBN 0-333-67744-7).
Stephen A. Gaetz, Looking Out for the Lads: Community Action and the Provision of Youth Services in an Urban Irish Parish. St John's, Newfoundland: Institute for Social and Economic Research, Memorial University, 1997, no price stated, paperback, xx+236 pp. (ISBN 0-919666-90-6).
Philip Nyden, Anne Figert, Mark Shibley and Darryl Burrows (eds.), Building Community: Social Science in Action, London: Pine Forge Press, 1997, £26.00 pbk, xiv+263 pp. (ISBN 0-8039-9093-6).
Chris Searle, Living Community, Living School. London: The Tufnell Press, 1997, £11.99, xvi+164 pp. (ISBN 1-872767-27-3).
What is ‘community’? This question exercises the four books which form the basis of this review essay and links a disparate collection together. Each text covers substantially different subjects in addressing the relevance of community in diverse settings. Beyond Communitarianism has twelve chapters which explore rights and citizenship in different domains. Living Community, Living School provides a set of sketches which examines how a school in Sheffield, England, draws on its local community to overcome social divisions found in its midst. Looking Out for the Lads contains a detailed case study of a housing estate near Cork in Ireland, which considers at length the difficulties that cause residents in a particular geographic location to feel alienated from those residing in neighbouring streets, despite concerted attempts to bring them together. Building Community illustrates through twenty-six specific examples how research need not be an ‘ivory tower’ activity orientated to the dispassionate pursuit of knowledge and of little use to people who are the subjects of academic study. Embedded within a politics of knowledge framework, it argues for a value-based remit fostering social justice for the social sciences.