The 'return to community': challenges to human service professionals

Barbara Fawcett, Maurice Hanlon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


In Australia and the United Kingdom over the past two decades, the way human service professionals have been involved in ‘communities’, whether defined by ‘place’, ‘interest’ or ‘exclusion’, has varied with the political complexion of the government in power. This has resulted in both opportunities for and constraints on human services practice and community participation. In this article, the terminology and the conceptual frames associated with work both in and with communities are critically scrutinized. However, it is also contended that spatial analysis and social entrepreneurship can enable those working in the field to respond productively to the New Public Management and ‘Third Way’ approaches that have shaped the policy context of human services practice. It is argued that a form of spatial analysis and of social entrepreneurship can be used to facilitate meaningful participation in decision-making processes in a variety of communities and to re-forge social connections at a range of levels.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-444
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Sociology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2009


  • capacity building
  • community
  • social entrepreneurship
  • spatial analysis


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