Managing divided loyalties in the emerging profession of community engagement
- Publication Type:
- Journal Article
- Journal of Sociology, 2019
- Issue Date:
© The Author(s) 2019. Community engagement practitioners design, deliver, report and evaluate processes which invite the community to influence decision-making. It is a unique role, with practitioners serving two masters: the organisations that employ or contract them and the communities whose views they are engaged to elicit. In balancing these interests, practitioners experience a number of tensions in their work, and employ a variety of methods to address them. This article draws on a series of 20 semi-structured interviews with senior practitioners and finds that these tensions mainly relate to: the need to serve both the community and the engagement sponsor, their position in either the public sector or as a private consultants to the public sector, and the constraints and behaviours of public institutions. They way in which they manage these is relatively ad hoc, although it is often informed by principles and position.
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