chapter  6
32 Pages

Relating to authorities

In this chapter I turn to the ways in which residents attributed responsibility for dealing with local problems, particularly to government agencies. More than attributing blame for failure (Pitch 1995), this looks at assumptions of where power lies for resolving problems and their own in relation to it. I have suggested that some of these problems lie just beyond or at the borderlines of people’s sense of capacity to deal with them. In addition, they are, by their association with difference, problems that people may also feel that they do not wish to get involved with. Put simply, if people constitute problems as those that are beyond them, ones that they wish to distance themselves from, and have no authority to deal with, these problems are perhaps constituted by where power to deal with them actually lies or perceptions of where it should lie. In the context of calls for greater responsibility or capacity for resolving problems to be promoted within communities this conception of authority is crucial to understanding the potential problems with such a notion.