Resisting the ‘Long-Arm’ of the State? Spheres of Capture and Opportunities for Autonomy in Community Governance


Efforts to promote community empowerment within regeneration management have been persistently critiqued. Particular concern regards the potential capture of civic organizations into the sphere of influence of more powerful governance stakeholders, leaving communities marginalized and frustrated. Although such ‘capture’ is a discernible threat, this article presents a more nuanced perspective demonstrating the scope for community-based organizations to dissent from seemingly inexorable regimes of power. The article details a series of tensions that emerged across the evolution of a community-led regeneration partnership. It then outlines how civil society organizations challenge ‘partnership orthodoxies’, seeking autonomy albeit nested within—and relative to—formal bureaucratic and administrative regimes. Community partners can therefore assume a hybridity of capture and autonomy—or a mutuality—that is rarely acknowledged by accounts that critique regeneration governance.