Self-help and mutual aid are often seen as minor activities which take place at the margins of society. Community Self-Help shows that they are extremely widespread and argues that they should be considered as the third main sector of social and economic organisation (alongside the state and the market). Reciprocity, which is the central feature of mutual aid, is seen not only as the underpinning driver of social evolution, but also the basis on which progressive social policy can be built. Drawing on thinkers as diverse as Kropotkin, Smiles, Green and Putnam, the authors build a coherent rationale for contem-porary community self-help. The book also looks in some detail at the different ways in which community self-help can be harnessed as a route to the mainstream, a complement to it, or as an alternative, and offers some guidance on how to nurture and support community self-help.

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