Whatever Happened to Community?

Giles Fraser has left a glittering job at St Paul’s Cathedral and is working as the priest of a run-down parish in Elephant & Castle. This set him thinking about the nature of community...
Programme Details

Community has become one of those warm and fuzzy notions about which it feels impossible to complain. But Giles Fraser thinks our presumptions about community should be challenged.

Giles’ parish in inner London is rich in diversity but many people survive in bedsits on short-term lets and have little in common with their neighbours. In the first programme Giles compares this ‘thin’ community with his parents’ rural Northamptonshire village. In programme 2 he contrasts the nostalgia of Victorian architect Augustus Pugin for medieval communities, with contemporary nostalgia for the recent past. In the struggling former pottery town of Stoke on Trent Giles talks to MP Tristram Hunt about contemporary anxiety about community and challenges a former BNP councillor nostalgic for a past with few immigrants and full employment. And in programme 3, he asks: what lies at the heart of community? Is it possible to intervene to make communities stronger?

The series concludes with a debate recorded on location at Giles’ church. The panellists are Baroness Warsi, Minister for Faith and Communities; Hilary Benn MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Community; Roger Scruton, writer and philosopher; and Jane Wills, Professor of Human Geography at the Queen Mary, University of London. A local audience challenge them: what can government do to build stronger communities?

2nd, 9th and 16th December 2013 at 8pm, followed by a debate on 18th December 2013 at 8pm, BBC Radio 4.

Production Credits

Produced by Jane Greenwood.
Presented by Giles Fraser.
Executive Producer: Jo Coombs.

‘Whatever Happened to Community?’ on the BBC.

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