620.7 Governance of liquid neighbourhood communities and their relation with stakeholders in Amsterdam

Saturday, August 4, 2012: 10:20 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Distributed Paper
Peer SMETS , Sociology, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Governance of liquid neighbourhood communities and their relations with stakeholders in Amsterdam

This paper discusses the fluid characteristics of contemporary communities in an ethnic-pluriform neighbourhood (Indische buurt) in Amsterdam East. This area has been critically analysed by the use of participant observations and semi-structured interviews with professionals, community members and stakeholders. The development of these communities was initiated with the creation of the Timorplein Community which is a network of social and economic entrepreneurs, societal organisations and creative residents. Meetings between community members have led to the development of common grounds, but have also encouraged initiatives outside the Timorplein community. As a result new fluid communities were formed and organised in relation to a specific theme or interest. 

The new communities developed when the welfare organisations in the urban district suffered bankruptcy and the local authority privatised the welfare activities. The contract was awarded to a welfare organisation with the most economic bid and as a result closed down several welfare activities and neighbourhood centres which has been accompanied by a shift from supply-led to demand-led welfare. In this context one would expect changing attitudes between stakeholders, especially public sector organisations, who still conduct themselves in a traditional way which is reflected in, for example, a well-developed organisational structure and a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound) approach. They assume that new communities have a solid form, but these liquid communities focus on the process of networking and organising as opposed to the creation of a final product.

The dynamic between different stakeholders show how the new communities – with their own inclusion and exclusion mechanism - try to redress the balance of power with public and private sector stakeholders. This in turn implies a rethinking and rearranging ways of organisation cultures, policymaking and service delivery including participatory processes.