A community can be thought of as “a geographically defined area with discernible boundaries” (p.242). This geographic understanding offers new insights into community development, as a border serves several important functions: guarantees the physical safety, protects natural resources and cultural heritage of a community. These functions of state borders also apply to community boundaries. Like states, communities were developed in certain boundaries to assure safety though delineation of police departments’ geographic area, give preference to their residents in terms of resource usage, and undertake special projects to preserve their cultural heritage.
Various projects undertaken to improve life in separate communities can be termed “locality development” (applicable to economic and political development) or “community development” (a more amorphous term). These can include rent control, housing or unemployment-related projects, and overcoming the power of local elites. Community workers have to point out a problem to local residents, work with wide masses of local people, encourage local self-determination, and ensure incorporation of minority perspectives (p.244). An organic community is based on personal acquaintance of its members and their continuous interaction in problem resolution. On contrast, solidarity in a mechanistic community is based upon “a repressive collective conscience that regulates the thoughts and actions of individuals located in the structure” (p.246). Durkheim predicted many social problems and greater anomie arising from the impersonal nature of a mechanistic community.
Community development is grounded in enabling and facilitating. An enabler is a social worker, as opposed to advocates who are also engaged in political process for achieving the aims of local citizens. An advocate can take a militant opposing position, while the enabler’s role primarily lies in helping local residents to organize in their struggle.
Community intervention involves two types of roles: analytical and interactional. The first ones “concern the issues, needs, and objectives being addressed and encompass problem-solving activities” appealing in the first place to task goals (p.248). On the other hand, interactional roles are focused on processes and more human aspects. The analytical activities can involve efforts aimed at understanding the stages involved in economic and political development of communities. Yet these stages vary from one research work to another since community development is not a linear process. Problem solving is oriented at identifying the problem and designing appropriate solutions and plans for their implementation. As to interactional roles, they relate mostly to the challenge of establishing a self-sustaining representative community organization. An effective organization will work across cultures, uniting representatives of diverse groups into a coherent whole, relying on culturally informed interactional process.
Community workers can work for different organizations including local government, local non-profits, churches, and private social-welfare entities (p.252). Within these entities, specially trained professionals will interact with local residents, empowering them to solve community problems.
Speaking of community development, the authors starts out by comparing the state with its separate geographic area to the community. The argument could be strengthened if the author spoke to other similarities and differences between the two entities.
Rothman, J., Ehrlich, J.L., Tropman J.E., & Cox F.M. (Eds.). (2001). Strategies of Community Prevention: Macro Practice (5th ed.). Itasca, IL: F.E. Peacock Publishers, Inc.
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