Kenniscentrum Maatschappij en Recht

Reflective community development in action

Constituting elements for a model of discursive accountability (promotieonderzoek)


This PhD research project aims to contribute to the development of a general applicable framework for explaining effective Community Development Practice (CDP). This framework will be practice-based, and contain the prerequisites for enhancing discursive practice as a way of professional accountability in CDP.

Because of her rooting in local development issues, and choosing position with vulnerable social groups, professionalisation in CDP was not destined to take the shape of traditional professions (see: Freidson, 2002), with underlying processes of power formation, distinction, and creating and sustaining monopolies on knowledge, practice and training.

Vulnerability of a profession

In the face of reforms of the modern welfare states in the last decades, however, CDP shows vulnerability as a profession because of her struggle with the growing pressure on autonomy and accountability which generally results in a quantitative, output driven practice vis-a-vis a lack of professional language in demonstrating the social returns on investment in community development programs.

International comparative case study

By conducting an international comparative case study into good professional practice, 'common factors' will be identified that can explain effective CDP. Three quality levels of CDP will be distinguished: the level of formulating social benefits (political normative), the level of strategic positioning (the institutional) and the level of service provision (community).

This framework for discursive accountability has three goals:

  1. Practice: To contribute to the development of reflective practice, by making explicit implicit ideas of practitioners, stakeholders and participants about good practice in community development
  2. Education: This PhD project contributes to several programs in Culturele Maatschappelijke Vorming and the Minor Community Development, by introducing actual theoretical and practical issues in the field of community development, and by offering a new angle on accountability in community development, based on empirical research, that is more in accord with the features of its practice and the education of practitioners.
  3. Science: This PhD research contributes to the ongoing discussions about accountability in the social professions by offering an alternative for the dominant quantitative, evidence based discourse.


Prof.dr. Trudie Knijn (Universiteit Utrecht)

Gepubliceerd door  Kenniscentrum Maatschappij en Recht 20 januari 2023

Project Info

Startdatum 01 sep 2010