Is “including them” enough? How narratives of race and class shape participation in a resident-led neighbourhood revitalization initiative

Melanie Pothier, Nishan Zewge-Abubaker, Madelaine Cahuas, Carla Borstad Klassen, Sarah Wakefield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

This paper explores how one neighbourhood revitalization initiative addresses – or fails to address – intersecting systems of oppression as it seeks to facilitate resident-led change. Unlike many similar initiatives, the Neighbourhood Action Strategy in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada has an explicit focus on grassroots community development and resident leadership, and actors within the strategy have paid significant attention to issues of inclusion. We draw on in-depth interviews with City staff, local service providers, and neighbourhood residents, as well as on observation of neighbourhood meetings and media analysis, to explore how diversity, inclusion, and equity are understood and managed by different actors within the Strategy. We demonstrate that despite a stated mandate of inclusion, the initiative often struggles to engage significant participation from working-class and racialized people. We argue that this is in part due to complex interpersonal and institutional dynamics informed by race and class, which create significant tensions that ultimately limit the initiative's ability to create meaningful transformation. We conclude with some lessons learned about how to disrupt the racist, classist, and other oppressive discourses that can operate even within the most progressive initiatives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-169
Number of pages9
JournalGeoforum
Volume98
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Canadian Institute for Health Research [ IRG-357566 ].

Keywords

  • Class
  • Community development
  • Health equity
  • Neighbourhood revitalization
  • Race
  • Resident leadership

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