I am a Research Fellow at the ESRC Third Sector Research Centre based at the University of Birmingham, where I am responsible for coordinating a qualitative longitudinal research study of third sector organisations and activities called “Real Times”. The team includes my colleague and co-presenter Andri Soteri-Proctor. By third sector we tend to mean a diverse range of non-profit activities undertaken beyond the market and the state, for example, by charities, social enterprises and less formal community-based groups and associations.
As well as having some practical experience of this ‘field’ of activities (as an employee, volunteer, etc.), I have been able to focus my research over a number of years on what I think of as its contested qualitative dynamics – how it works in practice over time. “Real Times” is partly underpinned by this theoretical imagining, and involves following the challenges, strategies, fortunes and performance of third sector activities as they unfold through time. The research is based around a diverse set of case studies, and in the workshop presentation we aim to provide a momentary glimpse of community-based activities in a couple of these settings.
Understanding the interplay of diverse temporalities - for example, around continuity and change; duration, sequence, pace and time expectations; and around memory and anticipation - is a strong feature of the research. We hope to be able to share our reflections on the temporalities involved in community-based action, and to hear other accounts and perspectives of the relationship between time and community.
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