Community Development in Dublin. Political Subjectivity and State Cooption.
Zagato, Alessandro (2012) Community Development in Dublin. Political Subjectivity and State Cooption. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.
Between the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s, under the aegis of “Community Development” (CD), the Dublin inner city subaltern community struggles raised implicit and explicit political questions which differed substantially from those previously raised by the ‘official’ republican and socialist left. These questions concerned the lives of miscounted people, their place in the city and the resources available to them. They developed in unprecedented forms of political organization, which, for not being concerned with entering the domain of representative state power, kept themselves at a subjective distance from it. However, this independence had a short life. From the 1980s CD projects began to be rearticulated and ‘depoliticised’ under a bureaucratic framework of funding streams, management, expertise and service delivery. The prevailing emphasis on state defined concerns, concepts and modes of organization, as well as the decline of the original intellectual independence from the state apparatus, has progressively led to the present, paradoxical situation in which the taking away of state funds- officially justified by the financial crisis, and part of wider austerity measures imposed by the Irish state - is experienced by CD groups as their death knell. Through concepts of ‘post-party politics’, as formulated by contemporary sociological and political theory, I evaluate CD’s original political approach. After analysing CD’s history as a ‘political sequence’, I give an in-depth overview of present institutional tendencies, drawing from oral contributions by activists, state agents and policy makers, participatory methods and ethnographic observation . As a provisional conclusion, I point to possible future scenarios and provide some recommendations for an eventual re-construction of CD’s independency, which, in my view, can only be achieved by returning to the ephemeral events and the spontaneity of life shaping Dublin’s inner city popular neighbourhoods.
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