Asset-Based Community Development: Narratives, Practice, and Conditions of Possibility—A Qualitative Study With Community Practitioners

Rebecca Harrison, Christian Blickem, Jonathan Lamb, Susan Kirk, Ivaylo Vassilev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) is seen as a way of tackling the social determinants of health and reducing health inequalities. However, a better understanding of the mechanisms through which ABCD operates, and the environmental and relational conditions within which it is likely to be most effective, could increase its effectiveness at improving health and well-being and reducing inequalities. Interviews and focus groups were conducted with 25 people working in third sector and voluntary organizations to begin to improve understanding about ABCD approaches, how they are implemented, and how they are meeting the needs of disadvantaged populations. These individuals had local area knowledge of programs that follow an ABCD approach and which are currently running in the North West of England. The interviews were transcribed
and thematically analyzed. Four overarching themes gave insight into the principles and practices of ABCD: Relationships and trust as mechanisms for change, Reciprocity and connectivity: “people not services,” Accountability and reducing dependency, and A socially sustainable model. ABCD focuses on identifying and developing individual capabilities, relationships, engagement within communities, and outcomes that are meaningful to people and consistent with relationships and support that are reciprocal and acceptable. ABCD is likely to be most effective in supporting vulnerable people where building trust is mirrored by an institutional and relational environment that is trustworthy and facilitative of developing people’s capabilities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSAGE Open
Early online date17 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Asset-based community development
  • Community development
  • Inequalities
  • Health


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