Community Practice: Theories and Skills for Social Workers

By David A. Hardcastle; Patricia R. Powers et al. | Go to book overview

4
The Concept of Community
in Social Work Practice

They hang the man and flog the woman Who steals the goose from off the Common, But let the greater criminal loose Who steals the Common from the goose.

ENGLISH RHYME

It is hard to imagine a more elusive concept than the idea of community. Fraught with meaning, the word community conjures up memories of places where we grew up and where we now live and work, physical structures and spaces— cities, towns, neighborhoods, buildings, stores, roads, streets. It evokes memories of people and relationships—families, friends and neighbors, organizations, associations of all kinds: congregations, PTAs, clubs, teams, neighborhood groups, town meetings. It evokes special events and rituals—Fourth of July fireworks, weddings, funerals, parades, and the first day of school. It evokes sounds and smells and feelings— warmth, companionship, nostalgia, and sometimes fear, anxiety, and conflict as well. We all grew up somewhere; we all live in communities somewhere; we all desire human associations, some degree of belonging to a human community; we all carry around some sense of community within us. It goes deep into our souls (see Box 4.1).The elusiveness of the concept of community derives from its multidimensionality. Accordingly, for this book, we have adopted Fellin's (2001) formal definition of communities as “social units with one or more of the following three dimensions:
1. a functional spatial unit meeting sustenance needs
2. a unit of patterned interaction
3. a symbolic unit of collective identification (p. 1). ”

This chapter establishes the basic concepts, variables, and changes related to community life. The following two chapters examine ways of studying communities and methods for hearing community concerns. To change community, their parts, processes, and particularities must be understood.

The common elements in sociological definitions of community are geographic area, social interaction, and common ties. However, while connection to a territorial base is frequent so that neighborhoods, villages, or cities fit the defini-

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Community Practice: Theories and Skills for Social Workers
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Preface v
  • Note viii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Contents *
  • Community Practice *
  • 1 - Community Practice: an Introduction 3
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • I - Understanding the Social Environment and Social Interaction *
  • 2 - Theory-Based, Model-Based Community Practice 33
  • Notes 57
  • References *
  • 3 - The Nature of Social and Community Problems 61
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 4 - The Concept of Community in Social Work Practice 91
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 5 - Community Intervention and Programs: Let's Extend the Clan 120
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • II - Community Practice Skills for Social Workers: Using the Social Environment *
  • 6 - Discovering and Documenting the Life of a Community 145
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 7 - Using Assessment in Community Practice 172
  • Notes 202
  • References *
  • 8 - Using Self in Community Practice: Assertiveness 208
  • Notes *
  • References 240
  • 9 - Using Your Agency 244
  • Notes *
  • References 270
  • 10 - Using Work Groups: Committees, Teams, and Boards 272
  • Notes 292
  • References *
  • 11 - Using Networks and Networking 293
  • Note *
  • References *
  • 12 - Using Social Marketing 320
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 13 - Using the Advocacy Spectrum 355
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 14 - Using Organizing: Acting in Concert 391
  • Notes 420
  • References 421
  • 15 - Community Social Casework 426
  • Note 439
  • References *
  • Subject Index 441
  • Name Index 453
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