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A narrative analysis of four UK community project founders: a generativity perspective

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As part of the UK government’s ‘Big Society’ agenda, increasing policy drivers have encouraged partnerships between commissioners, service providers and local-level organisations and charities to organise and deliver educational, practical, and emotional support to vulnerable people within communities. Community-based projects require leadership to initiate and enhance service provision, hence the need to explore the experiences of founders of existing projects in order to uncover their accounts of their motivations. In this preliminary study, four project founders (aged 44–69) completed in-depth semi-structured interviews, to identify the events that precipitated their involvement and the experiences that sustain their practices. A narrative analysis identified prominent themes and these were linked to ideas about generativity. This revealed that their leadership roles evolved in response to ‘crisis’ points in their life histories, located in tensions between personal values and dominant discourses. This study concludes that the narratives of the four community project founders are consistent with theories of generativity, and future research is needed to fully recognise and nurture leadership figures within communities.
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Keywords: Generativity and communion; Générativité et communion; community leadership; fondateurs de projets; leadership communautaire; narrative analysis; organisations bénévoles analyse narrative; project founders; volunteer organisations

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Health & Life Sciences, York St John University, York, UK 2: School of Applied Social Science, University of Brighton, Brighton, UK 3: Faculty of Humanities, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa

Publication date: May 26, 2020

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