Soul, Community and Social Change : Theorising a Soul Perspective on Community Practice book cover
1st Edition

Soul, Community and Social Change
Theorising a Soul Perspective on Community Practice

ISBN 9780367597399
Published June 30, 2020 by Routledge
222 Pages

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Book Description

At a time when inequalities are growing globally, when the pace of socio-economic transitions is rapid, and when traditional ties of community are under threat of dissolving, 'soul' offers a new way of thinking imaginatively about how people might respond both individually and collectively in social change work. In exploring ideas such as soul, soulful, 'soul of the world' and soul-force, Peter Westoby invites readers to disrupt their taken-for-granted assumptions about community practice and to foreground ethics, quality, being and the aesthetic. Drawing on work of people such as James Hillman, Thomas Moore and 'Bifo' Beradi, he insists on the need to bring more depth into practice, eschewing contemporary trends of soulless analysis, measuring, and technique. Written in dialogue with eight practitioner-scholars from around the world, the book suggests a fresh terrain for community work and social change theorising. Illustrated by images of Australian cartoonist-prophet Michael Leunig, the book also promises to unlock new imaginative spaces for dreaming. A soul perspective will resonate with people searching for both a robust socio-political response to the world and an imaginative, poetic and mindful centring of self, 'other' and the planet to their practice.

Table of Contents

Foreword, Mary Watkins; Preface; Introduction; Interlude: community, development and our fantasy!; Settings and signposts: a soul perspective, soulful, ensouling and soul-force; Hillman’s ‘soul of the world’ - in dialogue with the work of Mary Watkins; Keeping us off balance - how the ‘other’ world of old Chinese praxis offers a path for an authentic practice today - in dialogue with David Harding; Safeguarding the soul of community-based organisations - in dialogue with Lynda Shevellar; Soul-force, nonviolence and community (anti)development - in dialogue with Jason McLeod; Soul, song, music and social change - in dialogue with Kristen Lyons; Soul, memory-work and a deconstructive perspective - in dialogue with Verne Harris; Ritual and ceremony in soulful community work - in dialogue with Polly Walker; Soul, dialogue and creativity - in dialogue with David Palmer; Action (re)search, delicate empiricism and reflective social practice - in dialogue with Sue Davidoff; Conclusion; Postscript: soulful threads; Index.


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Dr Peter Westoby is a Senior Lecturer in Community Development, School of Social Sciences, The University of Queensland, Australia; a Research Associate at the Centre for Development Support, University of the Free State, South Africa; and also a Director of Community Praxis Cooperative. Peter has over 25 years of experience in youth, community and organisational development in various settings, such as Australia, South Africa, Uganda, Vanuatu, the Philippines and PNG. His research interests include community development, dialogue theory and practice, and forced migration studies. Together with Lynda Shevellar he edited Learning and Mobilising for Community Development (Ashgate, 2012) and he is the author of Theorising the Practice of Community Development (Ashgate, 2014).


’A watershed for community developers! This book probes beyond the usual rational social science frameworks to engage readers in dialogues about the unseen, the sacred, the symbolic and the spiritual that permeate the lifeworld. Readers will be challenged with some of the freshest perspectives about community development that have been raised in the past two decades.’ Ron Hustedde, University of Kentucky, USA