Within the community we see all sorts of factions, sub groups, splinter
groups that do not share some of the characteristics of the wider
community that they are a part of. These groups are at the extreme ends
of the community that they are a part of. These members may have
different values, a different agenda, a particular need, are of a
age group or disability, or have some other characteristic that
distinguishes themselves from the rest of the community.
In the Muslim community we see different groups that have different
agendas that are not representative of the Muslim community. In the
disability community we see different groups that have different needs.
The same thing happens in any community where the members find that
they have no real connections within the wider community
Individuals that are at the ends of the social scale tend to be
1) Communities can become
to behave a certain way. There are
numerous examples where the patterns of behaviour within a community
been influenced by a person, event or activity that involves the whole
community. They can happen in a short time, or over a period of
generations. The attack on the World Trade Centre is a good example
where community attitudes and behaviours were changed in a day. The
motor car, the
telephone, internet and other forms of communication have also changed
the way communities behave. We also see the creation of new communities
cultures built around cult figures, ideologies, music etc. Communities
can change with each new generation where young people find their
own identities, they develop their own language, cultures and customes
that are unfamular to older generations. We see communities that have
to adapt to the changing landscape. The RSL was formed to support
solders returned from the great wars. With the numbers of solders
getting smaller each year the RSL is having to find new ways of staying
relevant to the community as a whole. Religous communities are also
having to look new ways they can stay in touch with the changing
needs of their members.
Communities can also change in a subtle way that is not recognised
until the transformation has happened. These changes can affect whole
communities or communities within communities where members grow up in
environments, and learn particular ways of thinking, they learn the
behaviours, values and roles of their peers. New generations live in
communities that are consumer orientated (consumer societies). Why do
it your self when you can purchase it? We loose the skills
knowledge to be self sufficent, we see the advertising and become
conditioned to a belief that a product is better for us. While the
motor car has opened new horizons, we have become dependant on it in
almost every aspact of our lives. Governments have also contributed to
the reconstruction of communities by becomming service providers or
regulating service sectors. There is a great deal of debate about the
role of governments in todays society. Just as communities of 2nd
and 3rd generation unemployed in England and
Europe have lost the skills to actively engage in a productive work
culture (Their parents and others have not provided the necessary roles
- getting up to go to work etc), and therefore depend (are dependant)
on social welfare, so too, communities have lost the skills (or never
had them) in providing for the needs of people that have a physical or
intellectual disability. The current generation is growing up in a
society where service providers provide direct
in the care of people with disability and
supports these activities. They see the ads, read the literature. Their
families and peers strengthen this culture and so it becomes the social
2) They are generally outside the
experiences of the other members of the community.
Anything that is different to what is expected will elicit a negative
response; I dont know how to deal with the situation, or I dont want to
deal with this situation, or someone else can deal with this situation,
or a conditioned response that has been successful in the past, or
learned from other members, or passed down from generation to
generation and embedded into the culture.
Comunities can also be suspicious of anything new or different. The
beliefs, values, cultures and behaviours (institutions) are valued as a
part of the community and anything that comes along that challenges
these institutions will be resisted. Muslems for example bring their
traditions with them and expect everyone else to respect them. They
live and participate in the community but find that they may become
marganilised because their cultures, customes and behaviours are not
accepted within the wider community.
3) Communities generally cater for the community as a whole, rather
than meeting individual needs.
When designing facilities, services or activities for the community, it
is impracticable to measure everyone in the community, so a standard is
used that takes into account the averages of its members. Buildings are
built to a standard, services are designed to meet certain criteria,
education and recreational activities are designed around the average
person. Any one outside these averages will be disadvantaged. My mother
is fairly independent, but restricted to a wheel chair, and simple
things like going to the movies etc become a logistical headache. I
know that when I buy a pair of pants or a shirt my size it may take me
a while to find the right size because one size in one brand is not the
same fit in
another brand (too big or small). I find the whole process frustrating,
and can somewhat imagine what it would be like for someone with a
severe physical disability to go throughout their whole life like that.
4) There is generally some form of harm, friction or conflict of
between the members. A good example is where a person with a physical
disability tries to do some shopping and cannot access the shop for
various reasons, and complains to the management. The management does
see the need to make any modifications (too expensive etc) and sees the
person as a trouble maker. The person becomes frustrated and angry with
the manager or feels marginalised in not being able to participate in
the activity. The members of the minority group (or others acting on
become aggressive in asserting their rights (and sometimes without
regard to the rights of the others).
We see various minority rights movements actively promoting their cause
community education, protests, demonstrations, riots and
civil wars. The rights of people with disability that are enshrined in
(Disability Service Standards etc) only came about through advocacy and
education, were people made a stand against the community. People can
also be marginalised by
their behaviour, the activities
that they participate in (taking illegal drugs, stealing etc) or
association to a particular ethnic,
cultural or religious group (street gangs, crime gangs, extreme
religious groups etc). There is a perception that
the characteristic is harmfull or dangerous to other members of the
community. Other people that have aids or a particular
contagious disease etc are
also marginalised (or even disenfranchised) to protect the other
members of the community.
5) Its too hard. People that do not have the support networks
necessary for participating in the activities of the community, or may
not be able to cope with other members
of the community become
marginalised. Members that do not have the means (through a disability
or a lack of resources - personal and social) find that it is better to
just stay at home or mix with their own kind.
People who share a characteristic that is rare in the community often
become marginalised because of a lack of resources to support their
needs. Safety and security also become more important than being a part
community. A good example is where famous people are hounded by the
paparazzi, they feel victimised and powerless to the point that their
lives are at risk.
We may be
valued as a part of one community, but devalued (and marginalised) in
another community because of a particular characteristic
that is not shared with the other members of the community. Australian
aboriginals and American Indians
minority groups not because of their numbers, but that they often have
a different (and some would say lower) lifestyle than what is
considered the norm in Australia or America.
People that have a physical or intellectual disability are also
regarded as a minority group within the community. If I went to India,
I would be considered as a part of a minority group because of my skin
colour etc. Minority groups in politics often represent the extreme
the political spectrum.
wealthy people, royalty, film and pop stars etc can also
labelled as a minority group in as much they become victimised and have
less control over what they can and cant do. Just think of the
President of the United States, the Queen of England or the Pope, can
they just pop down to the shops to do their laundry, buy groceries
or go down to the pub and have a few beers with the locals? Wealthy
people in Arabia, Africa, Papua New Guinea (and even in parts of
America and Europe) and other countries have to fortify their homes,
drive in conveys in armoured cars etc. They get treated differently and
loose some control over their personal lives. Successful people (senior
company executives etc) often need to watch their back (so to speak)
for fear of being knocked of the perch
to speak) and being
by others. We see others that aspire to that status, are
jealous or envious of their position try to knock them down (tall
Groups of people can be marginalised very easily. People who smoke
tobacco are being increasingly
marginalised by the increasing restrictions in where they can smoke. We
also see P plate drivers being restricted in the type of vechicle they
are allowed to drive. People who are overweight are being refused
elective surgery, people with drug dependencies are being denied safe
controlled places to use the drug and have the opportunity to 'kick'
Community services and organisations sometimes unintentionally
marginalise their members by:
... Providing facilities
(buildings, transport, staff etc) that are seperate from the community.
... Providing living, recreational, educational programs that are
within the organisation.
Over time, these
activities become the
social norm, where the community
learns new values, expectations, and patterns of behaviour. The
community becomes dependant on the community services and organisations
in fulfilling their role in providing for the needs of it's members.
The community service or organisation that supports its members, may
become a community in it's own right.
... Develop the social
networks and participate in the activities of the community service or
... Are valued within the community service or organisation.
... Feel connected to each other and are interdependent
each other for various reasons.
... Communicate with each other.
... Share resources etc
... Become identified as a part of the community service or
The individual members
minority group are further
marginalised by the community service or organisation in the fact that
they need to fill a set of criteria or characteristics before they can
receive support. Members that do not have a support group (or can not
get to one) have no real way ot get out of their situation.
In remote areas where there are no services,
or where they do not fit
of a service,
or where a service does not have the skills and resources,
they have to rely on their own networks and support mechanisms or
others in the community for support.
If the person or group does not have any support:
may become isolated
may become a burden on their own community
may be placed in other services that are not appropriate to their
may be grouped together
may be labeled
with the same characteristics
may have their rights taken away from them
may be seen as a minority group and therefore may be treated as a
may be denied the good things in life that are available to others in
A lack of skills and resources in the community also means that the
person may be seen as:
a sick person : the person
differently to others
: takes up resources that are needed elsewhere
troublemaker : is always trying to standup for their basic rights
object of pity : the person can not look after themselves
subhuman or retarded : is not capable of making their own decisions
In fact some members of these groups are often placed in the same
today (both literally and figuratively) that Goffman, Wolfensberger and
others wrote about in the past.
People with drug and alcohol problems
People with mental illnesses
People with high support needs
minority group as "a group of people who, because of their physical or
cultural characteristics, are singled out from the others in the society
in which they
for differential and unequal treatment, and who therefore regard
themselves as objects of collective discrimination."
This definition includes both objective and
criteria: membership of a minority group is objectively ascribed
society, based on an individual's physical or behavioural
characteristics; it is also subjectively applied by its members, who
may use their status as the basis of group identity or solidarity.
In any case, minority group status is categorical in nature: an
individual who exhibits the physical or behavioural characteristics of
given minority group will be accorded the status of that group and be
subject to the same treatment as other members of that group." (Sociology
of minority groups)
Minority groups are about groups of people that see them selves, or are
seen, as having a particular characteristic
that is different from what is
considered as the social norm. Minority groups are not about size, but
more about the characteristic of the group being at the extreme ends of
the social scale of the community in which they participate.
of a Minority Group
: (Based on Richard T. Schaefer, Racial
Ethnic Groups 5 - 10 (1993))
physical or cultural
traits, e.g. skin color or language
Treatment and Less
membership in the
(no personal choice)
of subordination and
sense of group solidarity
Other characteristics of a
... Have a particular
that is not shared with other members in the community.
When providing the most
care for people with high support
... Located at the extreme ends of
the social scale of the community in which they participate.
... There are generally a conflict
interests between the members of
the minority group and others in the community.
... Are marginalised or even disenfranchised.
1) The community is not
person is living, but where the
person participates, shares experiences and has valued relationships
2) People with high support needs (severe disability, aged etc.)
will always need support structures as a part of their lives.
3) The amount of participation in a community (living, education,
employment or recreation) is directly related to the skills and
resources of the person, and, the skills and resources of the
community that the person wishes to participate in.
4) Institutions are going to be around in one form or another
whether we like it or not, It is the way that they are used that is the
5) The institutions of a society towards a particular group
determine the way the group participates in society.
6) The institutions of a particular government department,
profession or service define the way the person is supported within
7) Facilities that support people with high support needs do not
need to be the nursing homes or prisons in the
that they are today, but can become warm inviting community places that
offer a range of services to the community, as well as be a part of the
wider community within that society.
8) People with high support needs are a minority group in our
society, and will have the same problems as other minority groups in
being a part of society.