This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book outlines the span of the work within its social and political contexts and sets out the material that is later to be interrogated in terms of issues and approaches. It begins with contextual information on how the "process art" of the sixties fed through to the activist and community art of the seventies, touching on the impact of Marxism and feminism. The book offers background information on the development of the London Docklands in the eighties. It deals with the pragmatics of bringing a material or virtual output into being through collective endeavour. The book culminates in consideration of the wider political and cultural context against which some community-based visual arts developed via public art into the more recently termed "social practice".