Docklands and Coventry

Two Citizen Action Groups in Britain’s Economically Declining Areas
  • Hans Spiegel
  • Janice Perlman
Part of the Environment, Development, and Public Policy book series (EDPE)


Both the following cases describe mature, militant community action and technical assistance organizations utilizing research as a principal instrument of social action. The emphasis on in-house research (and its corrolary of long-range planning) seemed highly suggestive for American community-based groups. This method of fostering social action was reason enough to engage in a study of the British groups. In addition, we chose to look into these groups because they dealt with similar issues as those faced by many American community organizations, especially those that combat gentrification and try to protect the interests of working-class and poor constituencies in a threatening economic climate. And as in our country, both the British groups were finding it difficult to fight basic structural and technological issues with limited weapons that can win some battles but are not powerful enough to win the war. There is a bittersweet quality to both of these British cases, as the successes—but also the limitations—of this sophisticated and depth-probing style of citizen action are detailed; it is a story of struggles with mixed results that also emerges, we might quickly add, when analyzing various U.S. grass-roots groups, as we have done in previous papers.1


Trade Union City Council Housing Stock Citizen Participation Citizen Action 
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  1. 1.
    Janice Perlman, “Grassrooting the System,” Social Policy, September–October 1976; Janice Perlman, “Grassroots Empowerment and Government Response,” Social Policy, September–October 1979; Janice Perlman, “Grassroots Participation from Neighborhood to Nation,” in S. Langton, ed., Citizen Participation in America (Lexington, Mass.: Heath, 1978); Hans Spiegel, “Citizen Participation in Federal Programs: A Review,” Journal of Voluntary Action Research Monograph No. 1, 1971, pp. 20-22; Hans Spiegel, “From Protest to Program: Three Grassroots Coalitions in Their Formative Stages,” Graduate Program in Urban Affairs, Hunter College, 1978Google Scholar
  2. Stephen D. Mittenthal and Hans Spiegel, Urban Confrontation: City versus Neighborhood in the Model Cities Planning Process (New York: Columbia University, Institute of Urban Environment, 1970), pp. 395–470.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans Spiegel
  • Janice Perlman

There are no affiliations available

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