The Significance of Place in Community Governance

This is a study about the significance of ‘place’ in the context of community governance. The aim is to find out the extent to which community governance leaders share the view that ‘place’ is the defining aspect of what they understand community to be. Therefore, the first of two research objectives is to explore an intuition that ‘place’ as a lived experience is actually more influential in the practice of community governance than is explicitly recognised by public policy around community governance.

Rather than asking leaders directly about ‘place’, as it can be too vague and abstract a concept to talk about directly, the research will look at the shared perspectives of what they understand community to be. With Q-methodology underpinning the detailed design of the study, the research project will be organised around a series of case studies in the Taranaki region. Data collection, analysis and interpretation will be done in four stages: (1) identify and sample the concourse, (2) conduct the Q-sort with target participants, (3) do a first and second order factor analysis and interpretation of the results, and (4) present and validate the findings with interested participants.

These findings will help meet the second research objective which is whether or not it would be more pertinent to talk about communities of place rather than communities of interest in the New Zealand context of community governance. And in doing so, how ‘place’ should be the point of reference or common ground for dialogue to address community governance issues.

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