Community Involvement in Health Planning: Lessons Learned From Practicing Social Marketing in a Context of Community Control, Participation, and Ownership
Susan E. Middlestadt Carol Schechter
Academy for Educational Development, Washington, DC
Social marketing is one method of developing interventions to facilitate social and behavior change. Although the principles of social marketing are essentially neutral as to the context in which they are applied, social marketing has most commonly been practiced by external agents in more of a top-down manner. Increasingly, social marketers are being asked to design and implement programs under conditions where local control, community ownership, and community participation are the norm. Whether directed from the political right as an attempt to reduce federal control and budgets, or from the political left, as a strategy to increase the role of affected populations in determining the shape of programs that serve them, the outcome is the same: Program control is shifting from the national or central to the local or community level. To be successful, social marketers must meet the challenges of developing methodologically sound programs in a context defined by community participants, leaders, and advocates.
This is not the first time that social marketers have found themselves working in an environment where the rules and parameters are defined by individuals trained in other disciplines. The challenges of designing social marketing programs within a health or medical environment have been addressed by a number of commentators on social marketing meth-