Community development involves assisting communities and empowering them to attain well-being. This is done through advocacy, organizing communities and mobilizing resources. Other than theories of economics, development and politics, community development is also influenced by contributions from the field of psychology. Different branches of psychology help us to understand community needs, their cultural dispositions, and how communities form social cohesion and participate in community initiatives. The concept of psychological sense of community was initially propagated by the psychologist Seymour Sarason (1974). The Sense of Community describes the sentiment of belonging, trust and cooperation that people of a community feel toward each other. With this sense of community, members are able to feel empowered enough to participate in the community's activities. This is important for community workers and organizers. By acknowledging the community's contribution to development, understanding their values and opinions, community development workers are able to get more cooperation from an empowered community. Disempowering a community means disregarding people's values and needs and thus making them feel disconnected from the larger community. Maslow’s theory of Hierarchy of needs is particularly useful in understanding how change agents mobilize communities into action and eventually get their all important buy-in, in developmental projects they propose and implement. Participation in community development is successfully attained when an analysis of the community's needs is undertaken. Lack of support for community initiatives may be because community members are still striving to meet their primary needs and as such the community cannot be involved in meeting secondary needs. Overview of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Abraham Maslow, an American professor of psychology, identified a hierarchy that represents the priorities that individuals and communities espouse in order to survive and reach their fullest potential. The basis of Maslow's theory is that human beings are motivated by unsatisfied needs, and that certain lower needs need to be satisfied before higher needs can be satisfied. Maslow, position is that there are general needs (physiological, safety, love, and esteem) which have to be fulfilled before a person is able to act unselfishly. These needs were dubbed "deficiency needs." While a person is motivated to fulfill these basal desires, they continue to move toward growth, and eventually self -actualization. The satisfaction of needs is quite healthy, while preventing their gratification most often than not will make people ill or engage in an anti-social behavior. As a result, for adequate motivation of the masses, it is important that project managers understand which needs are active for the community. In this regard, Abraham Maslow's model indicates that basic, low-level needs such as physiological requirements and safety must be satisfied before higher-level needs such as self-fulfillment are pursued. As depicted in hierarchical figure 1 below, sometimes called 'Maslow's Needs Pyramid',
Figure 1: Maslow’s Needs Pyramid
Relevance of the Maslow’s model to community development
Maslow’s theory can be applied in mobilizing communities for purposes of implementing change/development programs. In order to appreciate how useful the theory is in mobilizing, this paper explores the various need levels as espoused by Maslow (1983), and seeks to discuss how such need levels could be exploited when mobilizing communities Physiological Needs: are the basic needs of feeding, accommodation, salaries/wages that are perceived by the community members to be sufficient for the purchase of the essentials of life. Human needs theorists offer a new dimension to conflict theory. Their approach provides an important conceptual tool that not only connects and addresses human needs on all levels....
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