NCSR 2008 - Urban Diversity and Religious Traditions
13-15 August 2008, Åbo Akademi University

Community Building and European Social Fund Cooperative Project Work

Sanna Lehtinen

People have started to miss the sense of community, since it can not be taken as granted anymore. Community has also been the grass root theme in the EU policy. The projects of the European Social Fund (ESF) are among the tools to prevent marginalisation and to increase participation inside the EU. On the background there is an assumption that participation on the social processes increases well-being.
In the EU, community stands for the intergovernmental decision making. In the EU documents the marginalisation is defined as the opposite of community. From the EU perspective the marginalised people are those outside of the working life who should be returned back into employment. The EU puts particular emphasis on the role and significance of local communities (the subsidiarity principle).
My research question is: what kind of community is found in the ESF project plans and how it is realized, and especially, what is the special role of a parish to produce community? I approach this question with the help of three themes:
1. What kind of local binds are found in these ESF -projects?
2. What kind of common interests are shared between the ESF project partners?
3. What kind of networks there is found?
I limited my research geographically by focusing into a locality in Finland, where four ESF projects were carried out between years 1995 and 2006. The used research materials include texts dealing with the projects such as the ESF project plans and descriptions, semi- and final reports. Because of the lack of mentions about parish in these documents, I interviewed the project managers and parish representatives. I have used in this research qualitative content analysis to monitor the results.