Based on 25 years of community development practice, six of which have been lived in South Africa, Peter Westoby’s ground-breaking monograph moves away from dominant normative accounts of community development to provide an appreciative and critical analysis of concrete examples of community development theory and practice. By examining community development stories as experienced on the ground, Westoby is able to show how the poor are organising themselves using various forms of community development as well as demonstrating how the state and non-state actors are attempting to organise, engage or accompany the poor through community development. The book also breaks new ground in theorising the practice of community development, drawing inductively from the stories analysed. The diversity of South African contexts and the proliferation of different kinds of community practice, make this a hugely difficult task. Despite this, Westoby argues it is one worth undertaking given the seriousness of the challenges facing the poor and progressive social change agents within South Africa. In this undertaking, Westoby draws upon a unique analytical framework to help illuminate current community development policy and programme challenges, along with practice dilemmas and wisdom.
’Whilst the values of community development are - or should be - universal (social justice, equality, respect, dignity, etc.), the practice of community development needs to be grounded in a specific context. This rich and detailed book provides both an illuminating national case study (from post-apartheid South Africa) and also, as is missing from many texts, a solid and welcome attempt at theory-building.’ Gary Craig, Durham University, UK ’Anyone interested in community development approaches and community development work will benefit by reading this book. For anyone who wants to understand the different traditions of community development, but also the community development practice on the ground, will find the stories and examples of community development work within South Africa, as portrayed by Peter Westoby, fascinating and very illuminating for their own community development practice.’ Lucius Botes, University of the Free State, South Africa