Immanent Authority and the Making of Community Discussion Paper
The full AHRC Connected Communities programme discussion paper is available for download here.
Drawing upon the resources, energy and research of an inter-disciplinary group of early career researchers, the Authority Research Network, this project uses literature on ‘authority’ to theorise community production, empowerment and participation.
Community creation, vitality and empowerment can be conceptualised in terms of the presence and performance of authority. Authority is a specific type of power that functions through consent and structures of knowledge. Vibrant and empowered community requires a plurality of forms of authority, which means pluralism about what constitutes objective knowledge as well as conflicting views on what constitutes community life.
Modern societies have seen a change in the salient forms of authority; today the reference point of authority is often a source of growth, creativity and innovation rather than a point of origin, eternal-law or foundation. Spaces and practices of experimentation, as well as technologies that capture and perform common experience, are vital for the generation of participatory, empowered and vibrant community.
Future research on community empowerment should focus upon the conditions of production of authority and include studies of community performance, narration, history, imagination and community-led design. Participatory research should be directed towards fostering and recognising capacities of communities to produce knowledge through shared experimentation.