Asset-Based Community Development

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From the Wikipedia:

"The Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) is a methodology that seeks to uncover and highlight the strengths within communities as a means for sustainable development. The basic tenet is that a capacities-focused approach is more likely to empower the community and therefore mobilize citizens to create positive and meaningful change from within. Instead of focusing on a community's needs, deficiencies and problems, the ABCD approach helps them become stronger and more self-reliant by discovering, mapping and mobilizing all their local assets." (


Responding to critiques of ABCD as neoliberal

John McKnight:

"In responding to a central claim of the MacLeod & Emejulu, paper, upon which their entire argument stands or falls, where they incorrectly assert that ABCD is a capitulation to “individualisation, marketisation and privatisation”, John has this to say:

“There are some people who are myopic – physiologically near-sighted. They can’t see much of what is surrounding them. These authors are stateopic – psychologically near sighted: unable to see the ABCD in plain sight. The clearest manifestation of this malady appears at the bottom of page 431. Here, they say ABCD is a capitulation to values of “individualization, marketization and privatization”. That statement can only be made by people who can’t see what is before them. Therefore, on behalf of 20-20 vision a few basic clarifications:

1. Regarding individualization, throughout ABCD literature and practice is the finding that assets require connections to be useful. And so the field is mainly about connecting people in associative forms to enable productivity. Indeed, the heart of ABCD in writing and practice is opposing individualism and supporting collective action.

The focus of our literature and practice is often about reconnecting citizens who have been disconnected by market consumption and professional dependency.

2. Regarding marketization, somehow the authors missed the current book that Peter Block and I wrote – The Abundant Community (2010). It could only be understood as a whole-hearted attack on consumerism and the disabling impact of modern marketing. If the authors should choose to write an article against marketization, we hereby give them our permission to cite the book numerous times.

3. Finally, regarding privatization, the remarkable reality is that the basic guidebook Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilising Community Assets (1993) rarely mentions the state and never negatively. However, my book, The Careless Society (1995), is an assault on professional dominance as a disabling force in community life, rarely mentioning the state. The authors clearly don’t understand that opposing professional dominance is not opposing the state. Professions are the “services” side of the market that they seem to dislike. But I think I am wrong about them. Like many others, I think they are political advocates of state funded professional dominance. And as we frequently point out in writing, the state has been coopted by advocates of dependency creating, compensatory professional ameliorative interventions, rather than economic reform that relocates income and the power of productivity. The authors even cite my position on income and productivity in the last paragraph of 435.

In summary, as an ABCD founder, let me make clear that our words and practice are about associational and collective life – not individualization. Our words and practice are about productively powerful communities rather than places vanquished by consumerism and marketization, created by corporations and professions that struggle to capture the state. Our words and practice are about productive communities where the state provides support for that productivity and, more importantly, uses its power to provide citizens income equality rather than palliative services and commodities.” (

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