The Emergence of Managerialism 5

  1. The Project

One of my colleagues is a real enthusiast, even a few months before his retirement. He has initiated a whole series of projects – day centres, mental health initiatives etc – and he has found a place in the Birmingham local government scene that keeps him involved in the constantly renewing processes of project development. Inner city partnership, ‘safer cities’, regional health, ‘city challenge’ – these are all mechanisms whereby a sense of achievement can be reassuringly concrete. I don’t doubt that by this means, substantial achievement has resulted. I view my colleague’s achievements and enthusiasm with respect, and sometimes awe. I’ve experienced the same mechanism at work myself. I am currently developing a project to link NVQ accreditation with Community Service and recognise the seductive quality of this kind of work. But that expression also reflects my doubts. If I look at my colleague’s projects with a jaundiced eye, I see a great price being paid for the surface attraction of these projects, and a doubtful impact on the lives of those with whom we work. Projects can sometimes be a way of giving the appearance of progress to those unable to face the real demands of change.



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