“We’re the forgotten estate”: Challenging Local Social Infrastructures of Care through Asset-Based Community Development

Authors: Stephanie Denning*, Coventry University
Topics: Social Geography
Keywords: asset-based community development, ethnography, poverty, care
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 40
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper uses asset-based community development (ABCD) to reframe the challenges faced by local social infrastructures of care. In doing so, it argues that ABCD should be given more attention within human geography for how we understand and respond to poverty, need, and community care. ABCD is a community movement that originated in the USA which emphasises principles of focussing on gifts and assets rather than deficits, and on relationships at the neighbourhood level. In doing so, ABCD starts from what is ‘strong’ rather than ‘wrong’ in order to work towards community transformation. This paper draws on an in-person and online ethnography in 2020 with local residents and community workers on the Firs and Bromford estate in Hodge Hill, Birmingham, UK. Initially the ethnography involved participation in community gatherings on the estate in the months before the Covid-19 pandemic before moving to online participation in Zoom calls, and online interviews and focus groups with photo elicitation with local residents, volunteers, and community workers. Statistically the estate in which the ethnography took place features highly in terms of deprivation. However, the ethnography drew out how through ABCD intertwined with a Christian ethos, local residents as volunteers and community workers endeavoured both before and during the pandemic to reframe the questions being asked of and by the community in order to generate a local ethics of care that drew on people’s gifts, fostered neighbour to neighbour support, and shunned stigma.

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