Moves by politicians and officials to encourage greater participation can backfire if, for instance, they are seen as claiming 'grass roots legitimacy' on the basis of a group's involvement, without actually engaging with its values and practices.
The 'Faith-based voluntary action' booklet was produced to accompany the first in a series of special seminars entitled 'Engaging Citizens', organised by the ESRC in collaboration with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO).
It summarises views from two experts - Professor Vivien Lowndes, of De Montfort University, and Greg Smith, until recently senior research fellow at the University of East London, and now with the Salvation Army in Preston.
The first of these seminars will be held at NCVO in London on June 15, when Campbell Robb, Director of Public Policy at NCVO, will respond to the publication's findings.
Campbell Robb said: "There is a lot of interest today in encouraging community involvement. It is clearly important to understand what motivates people to participate, what turns them off, and what contribution many, including those involved in faith groups, are already making to building a society that is inclusive and cohesive."
The booklet says it is widely recognised that there are many positive elements in the desire of government agencies - nationally, regionally and locally - to engage in partnership with faith-based organisations, and work for social cohesion across these communities.
However, Professor Lowndes warns that whilst faith groups' values and principles play a role in the regeneration of communities, sometimes tensions can arise between them and those responsible for making and carrying out policies. Groups may see an important role for 'prayer' or 'grace', to use Christian examples, in their community work.
Professor Lowndes said: "These are not cultural 'add-ons' but practices aimed at achieving specific ends. It is easy, in this context, to see how communication problems can arise between faith groups and secular policy-makers on the ground."
Her research found some cynicism among various faith groups where, for instance, policy-makers or practitioners claimed 'grass roots legitimacy' on the basis of people's involvement without actually engaging with their values and practices.
Similarly, Greg Smith, in research carried out in Preston on behalf of the University of East London, found that statutory agencies have great difficulty in relating to the diverse range of faith communities and their widely varied memberships.
Many Christian churches do not give community involvement or social care a high priority in their mission, and ordinary members of congregations in those that do, generally find it hard to think strategically, relate their spirituality or faith to wider policies, or see beyond the day-to-day needs of people in their immediate neighbourhoods.
There is little evidence, he says, to suggest that the majority of members or leaders of local mosques, gurdwaras, temples or synagogues are any more outwardly focused or strategically engaged than Christians. Drawing on recent research for the Home Office, Professor Lowndes explains three rationales for involvement of faith groups. These relate to people's motivation for participation, their capacity to engage, and the hoped for outcome.
In the booklet, she presents a 'diagnostic tool', devised with Rachael Chapman at De Montfort University which identifies the part faith groups can play in achieving the goals of civil renewal at four levels – communities, organisations, networks and leadership.
Amanda Williams | EurekAlert!
Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology
Internet use in class tied to lower test scores
16.12.2016 | Michigan State University
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences
27.03.2017 | Life Sciences
27.03.2017 | Life Sciences