When I hear community I think of a collective group of individuals who share common values, this can be through living in close proximity or through social interactions and interests such as sporting groups. Community is about a sense of belonging for all involved, and generally includes some sort of social order. Community can be perceived by individuals in many ways and as a result there is no clear definition or meaning as such. Community in the past has been concerned with the division of labor and governance whereas in modern society is more focused on common interests and goals (Kenny, 2011).
The foundation of a community is built through engagement with other individuals within the community through activities, programs and work. Community also raises the issue of equality within communities including racism, sexism and class. Critiques will often argue that these issues discriminate against individuals in the community and as a result isolate them (Kenny, 2011). There will probably always be discussion and debate about the meaning of community but one thing is clear, the meaning of community is evolving; it is no longer restricted to political structure and geographical proximity but has now expanded to virtual communities in modern society where a community can be connected across the globe.
When I hear the word empowerment, I think of enabling someone to become aware of their strengths and build on them while solving their own problems. For example giving an individual the tools but allowing them to make the decisions of how they use them. Empowerment is a significant part in the community development model; it is the process whereby a worker in the social and community services industry connects with individuals or groups in the community. There are several meanings and theories of empowerment that are up for discussion and debate, one that seems to explain my view is “The process whereby decisions are made by the...
References: Department of Community Development (1994) The Community Services Industry, in From Crisis to Prevention – The Community Services Industry Study, pp. 23-38, Report no. 21, Community Services, Western Australia
Kenny, S. (2011) Developing Communities for the Future: Community Development in Australia. Melbourne: Nelson ITP Chapter 2 – The Context
McArdle, J. (1993) Community Development, Resource Manual for Facilitators in Community Development, Windsor, Victoria: Employ Publishing Groups
Parker, S., Fook, J. & Pease.B. (1999) Empowerment: The modernist social work concept par excellence, in Pease, B. & Fook, J. (Eds.) Transforming Social Work Practice: Postmodern Critical Perspectives, pp. 150-157, St Leonards: Allen and Unwin
Twelvetrees, A. (1991) Community Work, Basingtstoke: Palgrove
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