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Deficits or assets? Problems or opportunities? An asset-based approach to facilitating locally-driven development initiatives.

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Critiques of past participatory development practices and attempts at trying to fix their many pitfalls have focused largely on methods. Yet practitioners have failed to engage in a more in-depth questioning of ideational standpoints or to consider development as an underlying processes. Such an analysis would illustrate that these problems are largely systemic and lie in the ideological and institutional interests of the approaches and the organizations employing them. More in-depth and paradigmatic critiques would also show that current practices of PD are failing as a result of their focus on imminent development. Exploration of alternative and innovative approaches that may make up for the pitfalls of past approaches is necessary for a more in-depth notion of the necessary conditions and elements for more thoroughgoing participation and development that is authentically community-driven. An asset-based approach shifts from a conventional problems-focus to an asset-focus, mobilizes communities to recognize their own agency and capacities, and provides assistance in forming linkages to outside associations that may be utilized for a community’s development efforts. These unique interests, ideology, and practices designate an asset-based approach as a plausible alternative that can compensate for the shortcomings of past approaches to participatory development.
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