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Understanding communities
Understanding community


Explanation of terms
Dysfunctional communities
Building better communities
Building values and relationships
What is community?


Community
Community

Understanding communities
Personal communities
Social communities
Public communities
Communities within communities
Minority groups
Members, Roles, Institutions and Values
Members
Roles
Institutions
Values

The needs of the community
Community empowerment
Rights and responsibilities

Community life cycle


Characteristics of communities

Have clearly defined roles/goals
Roles
Primary and secondary roles
Identity and purpose
Goals: A set of outcomes which are measurable

Have shared beliefs, values, cultures (institutions)
Formal institutions
Informal institutions
Have clearly defined boundaries
Have ownership of their members
Communicate effectively with their members
Can depend on their own skills/resources
Balance their own needs
Can share and draw on skills/resources where needed

Societies and a social conscience
What is society?
What is a social consciousness?
The social systems within the community
What is community




Communities are as varied and individual as its members. Often people belong to two or more communities. Family, education, business, work, sport, religion, culture all involve communities that we take for granted as a normal part of our lives. They seem to be a part of the background. It’s only when things are not going the way that we want, that we take any notice of them.

Most people think of communities as a place or setting, or a suburb or city that they live in. Communities are much more that that. They are the very essence of how we live and socialise with others. We have our own personal communities, the communities that we are a part of and the communities that we associate with. Communities are the building blocks that allow us to make sense of the world in which we live, participate and share experiences. They provide a sense of identity and purpose, a sense of being a part of and belonging. Community is all about valued relationships, about careing and shareing, about being with others we love. Without others to share our feelings with, life becomes meaningless. It does not matter how much money or possessions we have, if we have no one to share it with, life becomes meaningless. Communities may be a part of an organisation or service provider, a family or club, or work, or school.

The origin of community is from the latin word:
"In sociology, the concept of community has led to significant debate, and sociologists are yet to reach agreement on a definition of the term. There were ninety-four discrete definitions of the term by the mid-1950s. Traditionally a "community" has been defined as a group of interacting people living in a common location. The word is often used to refer to a group that is organized around common values and is attributed with social cohesion within a shared geographical location, generally in social units larger than a household. The word can also refer to the national community or global community.
The word "community" is derived from the Old French communité which is derived from the Latin communitas (cum, "with/together" + munus, "gift"), a broad term for fellowship or organized society." (Wikipedia)

"Community: The origin of the word "community" comes from the Latin munus, which means the gift, and cum, which means together, among each other. So community literally means to give among each other." (Seek To Know)

The idea of "community" probably came about where people gathered around a common area for their mutual benefit. Sharing a language, customs, ideas, skills, goods and services, or protection from enemies would be some of the advantages in being a part of a group. Over the years the idea of community has change to accomodate different things. While different definitions mean different things, the idea is the same; that a group comes together or lives together to share something that is of value to the members of that community. Today the word "community" has taken on whole new meanings, New technology in communitation and transportation mean that a community is no longer where we live. While we may live in a suburb, town, city or some geographical location, they no longer define the communities that we are a part of. Communities have also become so specalised these days that we no longer look for one community to fulfill our needs.



Understanding communities (Top)

Any activity that we participate in, usually involves others in groups or teams that have the same interests.
So, what is a community, and how is it different from a group or a team?
I feel it is important to explore the various ways people come together for a common cause or purpose:

A community centre is a place where people gather for a specific purpose. A community library, swimming pool, recreation centre or hall are all facilities that allow groups of people to fulfil a particular need.

At a football match, for example, people come together for a purpose: to participate in the game as, 1) a spectator, or 2) a player or 3) umpires. It is immediately obvious that there are some fundamental differences in the individual members of the group that are participating.

A business has 1) staff that work towards the success of the business, 2) has a customer base.

A collection of people in a restaurant participate as, 1) a staff member, or 2) a customer, and can become a group / team, or a number of groups / teams, when there is some common cause or purpose for which individual members become interdependent upon each other. A disaster (such as a fire or flood), quiz or competition etc, can be the catalyst in transforming the individuals into groups or teams.

In a factory, a group of people work toward a common cause and share rescources, facilities etc, between each other. However individuals in the group are not necessarily working as a team.

At a school or club, people come together as a group for a common cause, they share interests and participate in the activities of the school or club.

Suburbs are groups of people that do not necessarily share interests or participate in common activities.

A group of people may share a particular characteristic that distinguishes themselves from others (minority groups), such as wealth (or lack of), culture or ethnicity, or have a particular physical or medical condition that disadvantages their ability to participate in the wider community. They generally rely on support from each other or support networks and share interests or participate in common activities.

Human service organisations are groups of people: 1) staff who work towards a common goal and may work as teams, and 2) clients/customers that may share interests or participate in common activities. A home with 4 or 5 residents, a group of units, a boarding house, a hostel or nursing home that is managed by a service provider or organisation. The residents may share the same characteristicts and have the same needs. The residents may communicate with each other and may be supported by staff that are employed by a community service or organisation.

In a family, the members may have strong bonds to each other and share interests or participate in common activities, but at the same time are involved with other groups that have different interests and activities.

We also see communities of interest, communities of practice, scientific communities, communities of disadvantaged (AIDS, cancer, drug related etc). Technological advances are alo redefining communities. New generations are socialising in ways that we never dreamed of 100 years ago.

The above shows that groups and teams can be spontaneous or planned, formal or informal. Depending on the situation, the members of the group can just arrive on impulse, or arrange with each other to be at a certain place at a certain time. It can also be seen that the members of one group do not necessarily have to be a part of or belong to the other groups, At the football, for example, there are three distinct groups; the spectators and the players and umpires, but together they are all there for a purpose; to participate in the game. They all participate at the oval, identify with and support each other, communicate and share their feelings and knowledge, and act within a set of informal / formal rules, laws, ethics, customs etc. Even though the settings, members and activities are different in the other examples above, they also contain the same elements.

Characteristics of groups: (What are the characteristics of a group)
... Members share interests or participate in common activities,
... Informal / formal rules, laws, ethics, customs etc
... They identify with one another, or share common characteristics or behaviours,
... They share values, knowledge, skills, resources,
... They feel a sense of collective responsibility, achievement and security;
... They act in a unified way towards a common objective,
... Define themselves, and are seen, as members of the group,
... May contain groups or teams within the group.

So, what distinguishes a team from a group?

A team is a group of people that come together for a particular reason, common cause or purpose. John K. Brilhart [1] lists five important elements of a team, which distinguishes itself from a group. These are:

1.      A number of people sufficiently small for each to be aware of and have some reaction to each other.
2.     
A mutually interdependent purpose in which the success of each is contingent upon the success of others in achieving this goal.
3.     
Each person has a sense of belonging or membership, identifying himself with the other members of the group.
4.     
Oral interaction (not all of the interaction will be oral, but a significant characteristic of a group is reciprocal influence exercised by talking).
5.     
Behaviour based on norms and procedures accepted by all members.

Larson and LaFatso (1989, p.19) define a team as:
A team has two or more people: it has a specific performance objective or recognisable goal to be obtained: and coordination of activity among the members of the team is required for the attainment of the team goal or objective.

It can be seen that the players in the football game are teams, where their performance determines the outcome of the game. Or at the restaurant where the cooks and waiters work as teams in satisfying the needs of the customers. They have to coordinate their activities to achieve a desired outcome.

Characteristics of teams:
... Generally a group (or groups) within the group that specialise in, or focus on a specific task.
... Shared identity and purpose.
... Clearly defined goals and objectives.
... Formal / informal rules, laws, ethics, customs etc.
... Coordinated activities to achieve a desired outcome
... May contain groups or teams within the team.

So, what is a community?

The definitions of communities (Wikipedia) are as varied as the communities themselves. I prefer to think of communities as being generally organised in a setting where all members have the opportunity to participate in, share skills and experiences, and work towards a common goal. It could then be argued that at a football match, restaurant, working in a factory, or living in a suburb the members are actively participating as a community because:

There are common elements within the group that make it a community:
... Define themselves, and are seen, as members of the community.
... The members feel connected to each other and are interdependent on each other for various reasons.
... Members are motivated / work towards achieving a desired outcome.
... The members are expected to behave according to formal / informal rules, laws, ethics, customs etc.
... Value (there is a sense of worth in) the activities of the other members.
... The members communicate with each other.
... The members share resources etc
... Generally contain groups that share interests or participate in common activities.
... Generally contain teams within the groups that are directed towards achieving a specific task or objective of the group.
Etc

Groups, teams and communities are all about relationships, and the way we relate to each other in different circumstances. How we comminicate to each other, and behave towards each other depends on our own personal rescources (what we have, and what we can bring, or contribute to the relationship), our relationships to each other, the environment and the activity.

It is important to understand communities on three different levels; our own personal communities, the communities that we participate in and the communities that we associate with. While these are seperate communities, they are interdependent on each other in as much as they provide the structure which determines how we see ourselves and the world around us. They define our own identity and roles and the identity and roles of others:

... personal communities (Private, Personal, Public): how we define our relationships to each other,
... communities that we are a part of (Social): the communities that provide a sense of belonging, security, shared interests and relationships,
... communities we associate with (Public): the communities that we participate in but do not belong to.


Personal communities (Top)

Personal communities are about relationships and how we define those relationships (Circles of friendship). Pahl and Spencer describe personal communities as a mix of relationships (High or low) and commitment (High or low):
"In the hope of introducing some conceptual clarity we see the issue as being aboutsome kind of social shift between those relationships that are given (primarily, but notnecessarily exclusively, through kinship ties) and those relationships that are chosen which, again, may include both kin and non-kin. A further significant distinction maybe made between those ties that involve high or low commitment."

I prefer to think of personal communities as of a mix of private (intimate / high value and commitment) relationships, personal (moderate / medium value and commitment) relationships and public (social / low value and commitment) relationships.




... People in the private community are people we trust and rely on and share our intimate thoughts with. They are generally family but could be others that are cared about, or replace the family where the person does not have a family. They could be significant others in the persons life where there is a strong sense of bonding to the person. Role models are a good example of where a significant person in the community can become the centre of attention (focus) of a persons life to the extent that the role model takes over the persons life. The faults and imperfections of others in this community are often ignored.




... People in the personal community are people that we know personally and share common interests or activities with. They can be work colleagues, team member, school friends etc. They could be the boss, or someone we want to impress, but are generally our peers that we like to associate with. We share our dreams, hopes and disappointments and look to each other for support. Can also be others that we admire and respect. The relationship to the person is more important than the faults and imperfections of the person.




... People in the public community would be others that we do not know personally or only see on social occasions such as meetings at the shops or on holidays etc. These people are not valued as much as the members of our private or personal community in a sense that they are less likely to be called upon in times of need or when we want to celebrate a special occasion or to impress. Can also be people we dont like.



Shows how the relationships are valued within the personal communities.

Our personal communities are not the same as the communities that we are a part of or associate with, although there may be some common elements in our own personal communities with these communities. Even in a family the members would see each other according to their relationship with the others. For example, the father may see his second wife as a part of his private community, and the children of the first marrage may see the person as a part of their personal community. There has been a lot written about adopted families and how the members relate to each other. At work, we all place different values on our relationships to the others and place them in the respective personal community. The internet is also redefining peoples personal communities just as the automible, telephone, CB radio and other forms of communication did in the past:

Depending on the circumstances people can move from one community to another. A family member or work mate, for example, would be included in our private community if there was a strong bond to the person, or, would be moved to our public community if there was some friction or conflict in the relationship.

The value we put on our relationships are generally determined acording to:
Our relationship to, and experiences with others
The amount of investment we have in the relationship
Our own personal needs and expectations at a particular time
The needs and expectations of the others at a particular time

Disadvantaged or marginalised people often have limited or no opportunity to develop any personal communities. They generally have no choice in the matter as the nature of the disadvantage (may be a physical, intellectual disability, a drug dependency or any other characteristic) limits their ability to develop social networks. People often end up in street gangs etc, not because they want to live that life, but because they need the security and sense of belonging that is provided. They are often abused etc, but stay because there is often nowhere else to go.


Social communities (Top)

The communities that we belong to and socialise with. They provide security and an opportunity to share experiences. We may belong to a family, a football club, a political party or an ethnic group and be a part of those communities. People we know personally at work, recreation, school etc may also be a part of our social community. People with an intellectual or physical disability often have these communities defined for them. They generally mix with the same staff, residents, others with the same characreristicts.

People in the social community could also include people we do not like or associate with (they are assigned a different position in our personal community).
These people are often people we have to associate with, and may say one thing to the person (how wonderful they are etc) and quite the opposite to others about the person (that person is %$@## etc). There may be some form of conflict, envy or jealousy etc in the relationship.


Public communities (Top)

When we go shopping, to a football game, to work or even to hospital, we are temporarily a part of that community, and we have our own community to return to. We may recognise others (sales staff, other workers, and other people we meet on a casual basis) and say "hellow" to etc, but these relationships are on a temporary basis and there is no deeper or permanent attachment.

Often we associate with other communities that are not our own. On a holiday for example, we visit other communities that are forign. We do not speak the language or understand the customs and cultures of the communtiy. The same thing happens in our own community. The Aboriginal, Chinese, Muslems, Greeks as well as the blind and the deaf etc often see themselves as comminities in their own right. We also see street groups, bikie groups, and other comminity groups that have their own behaviours, cultures, institutions etc. If I want to be a part of these communities I have to learn the behaviours, cultures, institutions etc of the community.

People in the public community could also be a part of our personal/private community. Role models etc are people we admire and respect although we have never met them.


Communities within communities (Top)

Within most communities there are communities (sub groups) that share certain characteristics.
People generally socialise with others that have the same
… Shared characteristics such as culture, age or gender: people identify more with others their own age etc.
… Roles: teachers generally socialise with teachers and students generally socialise with students.
… Goals / Interests / Behaviours: people identify more with others that have shared goals, interests or behaviours.
… Religion or culture.

Within a suburb we see all sorts of communities that share and compete for various resources. There are sporting, elderly, professional, administrative, service comunities etc, that generally work together to provide for the needs of its members. When looking at the characteristics of a community, any other communities that are a part of the community need to be considered. How do the characteristics of each community enhance, or conflict with the other communities of which they are a part. A football ground is going to be built in a suburb. Which communities will benefit and which communities will suffer? Would the resources be better used in providing another type of facility for the community? Would the football ground be better located in another community?

With the introduction of new technologies and population growth, communities are becomming less isolated and more dependant on other communities. The expression "World Community" is becomming more relevant today where the actions on one community has greater effects on other communities. Climate change, free trede, oil prices etc are examples of how comunities need to find sollutions to issues on a global scale. Even in Australia, we see events such as the drying up of the Murry river having an impact on how the respective communities see themselves and interact with the other affected communities.

Companies and businesses are also having to redefine their roles within the wider community. Mining and industrial companies are required to operate in a more socially responsible way in supporting there own employees as well as the other communities that may be involved. Just as in Japan, where companies provide a whole of life approach to supporting their employees, Australian companies are creating whole communities where the members are a part of the community as well as the wider community.


Minority groups (Minortiy groups, Model minority, Dominant minority) (Top)

"Sociologist Louis Wirth defined a 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 live for differential and unequal treatment, and who therefore regard themselves as objects of collective discrimination."[3] This definition includes both objective and subjective criteria: membership of a minority group is objectively ascribed by 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 a 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)

Characteristics of a Minority Group :
"Distinguishing physical or cultural traits, e.g. skin color or language
Unequal Treatment and Less Power over their lives
Involuntary membership in the group (no personal choice)
Awareness of subordination and strong sense of group solidarity
High In-group Marriage"

Other characteristics of a Minority Group:
... Have a particular characteristic that is not shared with the majority of the members in the community.
... Located at the extreme ends of the social scale of the community in which they participate.
... There are generally a conflict of interests between the members of the minority group and others in the community.
... Are marginalised or even disenfranchised.

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 (marginalised).



Individuals that are at the ends of the social scale tend to be marginalised because:

1) Communities can become conditioned to behave a certain way. There are numerous examples where the patterns of behaviour within a community have 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 and 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 families and 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 and 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 intervention in the care of people with disability and the community supports these activities. They see the ads, read the literature. Their families and peers strengthen this culture and so it becomes the social norm.

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 interests 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 not 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 their behalf) 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 through community education, protests, demonstrations, riots and civil wars. The rights of people with disability that are enshrined in law (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 of the 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 are labelled as a 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 ends of the political spectrum.

Extremely wealthy people, royalty, film and pop stars etc can also be 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 (so to speak) and being replaced by others. We see others that aspire to that status, are jealous or envious of their position try to knock them down (tall poppy syndrome).

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' the habit.

Community services and organisations sometimes unintentionally marginalise their members by:
... Providing facilities and services (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.

The members:
... Develop the social networks and participate in the activities of the community service or organisation.
... Are valued within the community service or organisation.
... Feel connected to each other and are interdependent on each other for various reasons.
... Communicate with each other.
... Share resources etc
... Become identified as a part of the community service or organisation.

The individual members within the 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 the criteria 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 needs
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 minority group
may be denied the good things in life that are available to others in the community

A lack of skills and resources in the community also means that the person may be seen as:
a sick person : the person is treated differently to others
a nuisance : takes up resources that are needed elsewhere
a troublemaker : is always trying to standup for their basic rights
an 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 settings today (both literally and figuratively) that Goffman, Wolfensberger and others wrote about in the past.
Asylum seekers
Aboriginals
Aged
People with drug and alcohol problems
People with mental illnesses
People with high support needs
Etc.


Members, Roles, Institutions and Values (Top)


The relationships between Members, Roles, Institutions and Values in the community.

Members (Top)
Community participation and inclusion is about the person and the community and building networks and relationships, and supporting those networks and relationships, where the person participates in and is a part of that community.

Community access
Its no good being a part of a community when you can't access the community.
Communication between members
Its no good being a part of a community when you can't communicate with others, or they can't communicate with you.
Community presence
Build a profile of yourself within the community so that others know you and have the opportunity to find some common interests.
Community participation
Understand the community. What are the activities, values etc. of the community. Find some ways where your involvement contributes to the community.

Roles (Top)
The value of a persons role is purely subjective when applied to different settings and activities in different communities. We all have different roles depending on what we are doing, where we are doing it and who we are doing it with, and therefore the person's role takes on different meanings within each community that the person is participating in. Roles are like the clothes we wear. Each activity requires a different outfit (both literally and figuratively). The example of actors in a play also shows us that roles are learned behaviours. We all are conditioned to behave a certain way (we learn our lines from the moment of birth) according to the activity, setting and the expectations of others within the activity and setting i.e.: we don't wear our bathers to a formal dinner etc. It could also be argued that communities have become conditioned in behaving a certain way when looking after devalued people (in the historical sense, as well as in society today) (Removing the barriers to community participation and inclusion). All members are expected to behave according to their role within the setting. If a person’s role is to be submissive, then, when the person takes on a more active role, the person may be punished.

We all play a role in each community we are a part of. A father in one community may be a teacher, worker or a painter in another community. The value of the person's role is determined by the expectations of the community in the person fulfilling that role. Sometimes other roles are assigned to members where they do not come up to those expectations of the others in a community. They may have a particular characteristic that is different to the others, or need special support that is not available within a community. If the person does not have something of signifance to contribute to the community, that person will be treated as different (asigned a devalued social role).

SRV (which itself evolved from the concept of Normalisation) is probably the most influential social paradigm used to provide a better life for people with disability. The idea of Normalisation (where all members of society have the same right to a the same way of life as others within that society) has been around for a long time. It has only been in the last 10 to 20 years that we have had the incentives, skills and resources to provide for a more humanistic approach to meeting needs of disadvantaged people in society. SRV is about social roles. Society tends to group people into different classifications or groups according to a particular characteristic of a person that stands out. Regardless of the persons individual differences. society generally assigns a particular role to all people that share that characteristic. This role describes the persons behaviours, and how we should associate with the person. Roles are also a way to visualise the person and what we may expect from the person. Some social roles are positive. Hero, friend, supporter, defender of the faith, aussie battler, statesman etc all create a positive image of the person. Accordingly they are treated with respect and considerstion as valued members of society. Whether they are good people or not, is not as important as their social role. Other social roles are negative. Druggie, criminal, nigger, deviant, sick, dole bludger, alcoholic etc all create a negative picture or impression of the person, and as a result, the person will be negitavely valued, and treated differently to others, regardless of any other positive characteristicts the person may have. SRV shows us that disadvantaged people were devalued by society, and that by changing the way they are seen (their role), we change our behaviours and expectations, and add value to their lives by giving them the opportunity to participate in valued relationships and activities. Person Centered Planning, the Least Restrictive Principle and Transitional planning have all evolved from the principles of SRV. Each model is designed to allow (or facilitate) positive behaviours and attitudes within society, where the person to be able to participate, as much as possible, within each community that most suits the person's needs. These models of care could be thought of as the vechicle, SRV is the engine that drives each model of care, and government policy and practice serves as the highways and byways.

Institutions (Top)
Each community has its particular institutions that bond the members of the community. They serve as a foundation for the formal/informal cultures, values, expectations, objectives, hierarchies, goals, policies, constitutions, unwritten laws or codes of behaviour etc. ("social construction"). Whether the community is a family, a school, sporting or social group, a cultural or religious group, a community home, hostel or nursing home they all need a structure that defines the group.

An institution could be describes as:
... any club, facility, organisation or activity that:
... has more than one member that actively participates in the club, facility, organisation or activity
... is organised within a set of formal/informal hierarchies, beliefs, values, expectations and behaviours
... may be highly structured within these formal/informal hierarchies, beliefs, values, expectations and behaviours
... shares a set of objectives
(What Are Institutions)

An institution therefore refers to:
... the setting of the activity: the design, location and anything that is removed from or added to, that may influence, aid or protect the members,
... the structure of the activity: the various restrictions that are added to, or removed from the activity, or the way the activity is organised,
... the formal/informal behaviours and attitudes of the members: the various policies, rules, roles, hierarchies of the members.

Values (Top)
Values form the basic premise and motivation in any human endeavour. We do something because we find value in, or attach a positive value on the activity or the outcome of the activity. Conversely, we do not do something because there is no value in the activity, or the outcome of the activity is negatively valued. The idea of values is purely personal in their conception and execution. However, these values come from somewhere. They may come from our parents, family, peer group, the community or the society that we live in. They also come from our experiences. Values are also based in knowledge and understanding of the world around us. They are also based in ignorance, myths and legends. They are also based in culture and history. Values determine how we interact with others and the world around us. We consciously and unconsciously make value judgements about ourselves and others around us.

Values in the subjective sense and are determined by a number of factors. The values that we assign ourselves, others and objects are determined by our feelings, the activity, who are we doing it with, the setting, our expectations and the expectations of others in the activity etc. Wolfensberger describes values as being of three types; Idealised, Norm-linked and Operational (high order, medium order and low order) (Diligio: Social Role Valorization - Understanding SRV P.36). When participating in any activity, our values are directly related to the activity and others within the activity. We often see a conflict of these high order values that SRV refers to when trying to implement them in our normal activities. We may value freedom and the preservation of human life, but how often do we kill others in the quest for freedom. One person may value happiness as a high order value and wealth as a low order value, while another may value wealth as a high order value and happiness as a low order value. We may value/devalue the person in their role (teacher, artist, politician, policeman etc.) and devalue/value the person as a person.

Values in the objective sense are determined by our relationships with others within the community ...
... what are the preconceptions that we may have of the other person?
... what are the expectations that we may have of the other person?
... how do we relate to the person?
... how do they relate to us?
... what are the similarities and differences in the relationship?
... how we see our own role.
... how we see the roles of others and how we relate to those roles.
... how others see our role and how they relate to the role.

The value that is placed on the role could be positive or negative depending on ...
the activity within the community
the setting within the community
our relationships to the other members of the community.

Often there are a set of values that we use in these associations ...
do we value one thing or another?
what is the value placed on something over something else?
what happens when something happens that does not fit into our set of values?


The needs of the community (Top)

Communities are just like families in the sense that just because we may want something does not necessarily mean that we are going to get it. Communities are a one size fits all approach where the needs of the community come before the needs of the person. There are rules of engagement, and behaviours and expectations, rights and responsibilities that require us to fit into the community that we participate in. A community may also have a different agenda to the communities that it is a part of as well as the various communities that make up that community. As a result the outcomes of the policies of the community may be positive and beneficial to that community, and in the process, disadvantage other communities that are a part of that community. We see this in all parts of society, where the needs of one community come before the needs of other communities that are a part of the community. Within WA there are different communities that have different needs. The health community has different needs to the disability community, the mining community has different needs to the farming community and the business community has different needs to the recreation community. How do we balance the needs of the different communities that make up the society in which we live?

Communities (clubs, businesses, services and organisations etc) also have internal needs as well as external needs. This distinction has often been misunderstood, and as a result, communities often treat these needs the same way. Internal needs are essential to the community fulfilling its role in society, external needs allow the community to participate in society. While external needs are essential to the survival of the community, they are not essential to the role of the community. External needs are needs that do not need to be sourced within the community, While communication is an internal need, the type of communication used is an external need. While transportation may seem to be an internal need (to get from one place to another), it is an external need, unless the role of the community is to provide transportation. Communities that do not prioritise these needs often find that their role becomes blurred, unfocused or to generalised. This also creates a state of imbalance within its own role in society, and the roles of the other communities that it associates with in society. We see communities taking on roles that are already provided by other communities. Societies are probably responsible for this blurring of community roles. Social values, attitudes and expectations dictate government policy and practice in determining what a community can and can't do.

... Internal needs:
The community needs to function as a community. The principles described above allow the members to participate with each other as a community.
... presence and participation - the community must see itself as a community by its members and others within the wider community.
... space (physical or virtual) - defines the arena of the community.
... leadership - leadership defines institutions of the community.
... goals - provide a sense of direction.
... boundaries - allows the community to define itself as a community.
... safety needs - members feel that they can call on other members in times of need or when threatened.
... belongingness and love needs - ownership, shareing, affection, relationships, etc.
... esteem needs - self-esteem, values, expectations and behaviours, etc.
... self-actualization needs - empowernment, realising potential, self-fulfillment.
(Adapted from Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs)

...External needs:
What factors influence the way the community fulfills its internal needs?
... government policy and practice - rules, regulations.
... available skills and resources within the wider community.
... relationships with other communities - how do other communities advantage or disadvantage the community?

From the above it can be seen that there is very little difference between the needs of a community and the needs of the members of the community. Personal needs often conflict with each other in our lives. Sometimes we need to make some hard decisions about which needs come first. Communities are just the same in this respect. Which needs come first? The needs of the members or the needs of the community? Are the skills and resources more important to the needs of the members or the needs of the community? What skills and resources can be provided within the wider community? How does government policy and practice impact on the community filfilling those needs?


Personal needs Vs Community needs

Different communities fulfil different needs:
The spiritual community
The family community
The living community
The recreational community
The learning community
The employment community
The health community
The internet community
It could be argued that the more communities that a person participates in, the richer and more diverse the persons life will be.

The way the needs of the members are met within a community is complex.



Community empowerment (Top)

"Community empowerment refers to the process of enabling communities to increase control over their lives." Community empowerment : World Health Organisation, 2010

The community takes ownership
Self direction
Informed decisions
Communities make mistakes. It is important for communities to to learn from their own experiences and grow


An empowered community has the ability to effectively respond to the needs of its members.
This is NOT ...
... a sense of independence or dependence on other communities that it is a part of, or are a part of it - communities complement each other and need to work together in fulfilling the needs of their members.
... dictating to community members what they should or should not be doing - there needs to be a sense of shared ownership and responsibility within the community.
... dictating to other communities what they should or should not be doing - there needs to be a sense of shared ownership and responsibility within society.
... using skills and resources to the detriment of other communities - skills and resources don't get used responsibly or effectively.
... growing or expanding - is not an end, but a means to an end.

Empowered communities ...
... have shared goals, beliefs, values, cultures, institutions etc
... have ownership of their members
... provide valued roles for their members
... communicate effectively with their members
... can depend on their own resources
... balance their own needs
... can share and draw on skills/resources where needed
(See Dysfunctional communities)

Having said that, communities are not perfect places. They are arrogant, dynamic, protective, stubborn, irrational, ungainly, bureaucratic, self centred, hypercritical, subjective ,,, and the list goes on and on. While communities may have some of these features, you can't really blame the community. Just as a chain is as strong as the weakest link, communities are only as strong as its leadership.

Strong leadership
... determines the direction of the community
... provides a valued role for the community and its members
... provides a set of outcomes which are measurable


Rights and responsibilities (Top)

Communities also have rights and responsibilities, both to the members of the community and other communities that they are a part of. An empowered community understands these relationships and how these relationships impact on the community, and other communities that are a part of it. (See Dysfunctional communities)

Rights:
... the right to its own identity
... the right to set its own agenda, constitution and institutions
... the right to participate within the wider community
... the right to access skills and resources within the wider community
... the right to support its members within the wider community
... the right to protect its members from influences that disadvantage its members
... the right to refuse entry to members that do not fit into the community
... the right to evict members that do not accept the agenda, constitution and institutions of the community
... the right to refuse skills and resources to the wider community, where its members are disadvantaged
... the right to determine its own destiny

Responsibilities:
... to ensure the agenda, constitution and institutions of the community, protect and support its members, as well as other communities and their members
... to provide a safe, secure environment for its members, as well as other communities and their members
... to facilitate the development of valued roles and relationships for the community, its members, as well as other communities and their members
... to ensure that the community communicates with its members as well as other communities and their members
... to ensure the community does not disadvantage other communities or their members
... to responsibility use, and share, skills and resources to the advantage of its members, as well as other communities and their members
... to respect, protect and promote the rights, cultures and institutions of other communities and their members
... to engage with other communities in an interdependent relationship

We know from our own experience that the above rarely, if ever, happens. Most communities are reactive, rather than proactive. Its only when something happens that has an impact on all members of the community that anyone is inclined to do anything. Small issues can go on for years without being a threat to the community. It is only through some form of social activity that draws the attention of the community to the issue, that solutions can be found. There is also the problem that any solution is generally not representative of the community as a whole.

Issues such as ...
... poor leadership - lack of direction, lack of focus, power plays within different groups, lack of communication and negotiation
.... the institutions of the community - while important to the stability of the community, they often act as the breaks, where the community is not accepting new ideas or innovations that allow the community to effectively respond to the needs of its members. Cultures, class divisions, set ways of thinking, patterns of behaviours and expectations all determine the way the community treats its members.
... ineffective management of skills and resources - lack on coordination, uneven distribution, shortages, trying to do to much, or doing to little, competition of existing skills and resources
... ineffective planning - growing to big to fast
... competition with other communities - communities generally view other communities and groups with suspicion, or as threats, rather than allies and assets.
All impact on the ability of the community to provide for its own needs, the needs of its members, as well as the needs of other communities and their members.

Growth and expansion:
Is not a goal or ideal that a community should aspire towards, but as a way to provide for the needs of a community. Growth and expansion is not an end, but a means to an end. As the member’s needs increase, the community needs to find new ways to meet those needs. It may need more space, skills and resources. Often growth and expansion works to the disadvantage of a community, where its existing resources are stretched to the limit. The community becomes unfocused and uncoordinated. Community growth and expansion is dependent on existing skills and resources that are within the community as well as the communities that it is a part of. A lack existing skills and resources result in programs that are substandard, or do not get finished. Communication breaks down. The community may become fractured where needs are not being met. Different groups compete for leadership which creates social unrest, and even the social dislocation of some groups within the community.

Community relationships:
Community roles determine the relationships with other communities, and the way we interact with others within those communties. Interdependent relationships are mutually inclusive, where we share skills and resources to benefit all members. Rather than interdependent relationships with other communities, we see codependent, independent and dependent relationships evolving. Communities that are codependent, independent or dependent are often inefficient and ineffective in providing for their own needs. You may say that independence and empowerment are the same things, Nothing could be further from the truth. No one is truly independent. Independent relationships are mutually exclusive, where we do not share with others. Codependent and dependent relationships are about being dependent on each other or one person in a relationship. Communities are no different.

Competition:
Competition encourages people and communities to aspire to greater things. Competition also unites members toward a goal. It inspires members to achieve things that they would not do normally. Communities also have the opportunity to learn from the achievements, and also the failures. How could things have been done better? There is also a sense of frustration in the community not achieving its goal. How the community deals with the frustration is determined by its social construction. Competition can also destroy communities. Where the goal becomes more important than the means of the community to achieve the goal, the community can fall apart very easily.





Community life cycle (Top)

Communities can also be thought of as organisms that are born, grow and die. Some communities are temporary for a specific purpose, and others are permanent. However long their lifespan, they all have the same stages.

… Birth: A group of people discover that they have something in common. Define themselves as a community.
… Establishment: Chaos to order. Organisation of social groups. Organisation of political groups. Develop policies, strategies etc. Establish formal / informal goals and objectives, hierarchies, roles, values etc. Identify and establish skills / resources etc.
… Action: Implement policies, strategies etc.Work towards the goals and objectives of the community.
… Maintenance: Balance the needs of its members with the needs of the community. Communicate, share skills / resources with its members to maintain the community.
… Self-evaluation: Chaos and change. React to issues within and outside the community. Develop new policies, strategies etc.
… Consolidation/growth: Implement new policies, strategies etc. Develop the membership base, formal / informal structures, skills / resources where necessary. New communities may evolve within the community that have different specialities, skills or resources, agendas or values etc.
… Death: Can on longer function as a community for various reasons.

Once a community has been established, it generally moves between Action, Maintenance, Self-evaluation, and Growth stages until a time comes when it can no longer function as a community. An important part of the life cycle is the Self-evaluation (and can happen at any time throughout the cycle), where the community may go through a process of chaos and change. Members jostle with each other, promote their own issues and agendas, form power groups and factions etc. (M. Scott Peck) (Community Life Cycle Matrix) (Tuckman's stages of group development)


Community life cycle



Characteristics of communities (Top)


While communities are as individual as their members, they are usually organised or built around a set of principles that allows the members to participate in the community
... Access: the members must be able to access the community
... Communication: the members must be able to communicate with each other
... Presence: the members must have some sort of relationship with the other members (see themselves, and are seen, as a part of the community)
... Participation: the members must have some sort of involvement within the community

The community also needs ...
... A way of defining itself as a community
:.. An agreement between the members about what the community does and how it is to be done

These principles could be described as the characteristcits of the community.
Characteristics of a community:
... Has one or more roles that define its identity within society.
... Has a set of goals - provides a sense of direction.
... Is organised within a set of formal/informal hierarchies, beliefs, values, expectations and behaviours (institutions) that defines the boundary of the community.
... The boundary may be explicit (physical) or implicit (defined by the shared characteristics of its members).
... Has ownership of it's members.
... There is some form of communication between members.
... Has skills and resources that are shared between the members.
... Balance the needs of the community with the needs of its members.
... Often has clubs, teams, groups etc. within the community.

While different communities have different roles in society, they all share the same characteristcits. These characteristics could also be described as its social construction. They provide the building blocks that the community is built on. While it is preferable for communities to have all these characteristics, communities that do not have all, or where a characteristic is severly lacking, could be considered as a Dysfunctional community. An institution is an improtant part of the social construction of the community. The institution describes the means of cooperation, order and stability within the community.


The social construction of a community

1) Have clearly defined roles/goals
2) Have shared beliefs, values, cultures (institutions)
3) Have clearly defined boundaries
4) Have ownership of their members
5) Communicate effectively with their members
6) Can depend on their own skills/resources
7) Balance their own needs
8) Can share and draw on skills/resources where needed



1) Have clearly defined roles/goals (Top) (Characteristics)

Each community has a particular role that fulfils a particular need.
Valued community roles provide a common cause or focus for the community, as well as other communities that are a part of it.
Valued communities provide valued roles for their members.
Social role valorisation provides valued roles for ALL members of the community.

Communities that have valued roles in society …
... The spiritual community
... The family community
... The living community
... The recreational community
... The learning community
... The employment community
... The health community
... The internet community
... The blind community
... The disability community
etc
The values of community start in the home where children have valued roles in supporting others at school, sport or any other community that they participate in.

Communities that have de-valued roles in society …
... The AIDS community
... The drugs / rave communities
... The criminal community
... The gay / lesbian communities
... The Muslim community
... The bikie community
... The street community
... The unemployment / homeless communities
... The aged community
... The single parent community
etc

The formal / informal objectivities, goals, policies etc provide the core purpose of the community. They set the boundaries for the community so members have a clear picture of what it is about. The community needs to focus on its core goals etc. When the community tries to do too much, it runs the risk of not doing anything properly. When goals are too broad, not within the capacity of the community, are ineffective, weak, or compromise individual values, the community becomes unfocused and looses sight of the objective, as well as duplicating services that may be available elsewhere. Other issues, such as personal agendas and politics become more important than the goal. “Goals are essential to the other organisational tasks. People cannot organise, plan, evaluate, manage change, or make decisions effectively without them.” [2]

Roles:
Communities have five main roles or finctions:
… To provide a service to the members,
… To provide the skills and rescources necessary for the community.
… To maintain the community to a standard that can be used by all members.
… To balance the needs of the members with the needs of the community,
… To share and draw on skills / resources where needed.

Each community is based on a model that loosley describes it's function or role within society.
Three broad (and simplistic) models could be described as, but not limited to:

… Social (holistic): is concerned with who we are, and how we socialise with each other. Human interaction with each other and the environment play an important part. Settings are all about how the members interact with each other and how the environment affects the members as a group. Members also have the opportunity to change their own environment to their own needs without affecting the community as a whole. The purpose (objectives, goals, policies etc.) of the community are less formal with less defined roles.
… Professional (holistic/specialised): is concerned with providing an environment that accommodates the particular profession or the activity of the profession (educational / medical / business). The members have to fit in to structured environments that are less accommodating to the needs of individual members and how they interact with each other. Settings are about groups of people, and how the person fits into the environment rather than how the environment fits into the person. The purpose (objectives, goals, policies etc.) of the community is formal with clearly defined roles for its members. Community services are often built around the professional model, where staff or volunteers are employed by the service to support the service users within the goals, values etc. of the service provider. Records are kept on budgets, expenses, care plans, progress notes, medical histories etc.
… Scientific (specialised): is concerned with research, facts and figures. The setting is highly structured around a set of standards, procedures and principles that do not allow for individuals. Focus is on objective systematic enquiry of objects, patterns of behaviour and interactions, time and resources, balance sheets and budgets, efficiencies of scale, opportunity cost etc. Research communities need to have a consistent approach to inquiry so results can be analysed and compared. Sporting communities are about finding the best performance of the players to achieve a desired outcome - to win the game.


The three models and how they relate to the community.

Communities are generally a mixture of the three types (Social, Professional and Scientific). Social groups need to have the freedom to socialise, but also need some order and structure to coordinate activities and work within budgets etc. Work places etc. need formal structures and environments to achieve the desired goals, but there also needs to be some flexibility to allow for individual needs. Scientific communities study, measure and analyse the behaviour, performance and the environment of the individual and the group, but they also need to have some flexibility to allow for individual needs.

The least restrictive environment often refers to adapting the environment to suit all members, so that they have an opportunity to participate in activities, share experiences and be a part of their community. How the environment is adapted will depend on it's particular construct (social, professional or scientific), the amount of adaptation that is needed to suite all members and how the members are advantaged or disadvantaged through the adaption. An example of this is in a classroom environment, where a person has a intellectual or physical disability. The adaption is the inclusion of an aide to assist the person has a intellectual or physical disability. How the adaption advantages or disadvantages the others depends on the overall type and the quality of the activities, the opportunity to participate in the activities, share experiences and be a part of their community.

Primary and secondary roles:
While the primary roles of a community are built around the needs of the community in supporting its members, other secondary roles are concerned with its role within the wider community or the society that it is a part of.

The role of the community provides the members with a sense of belonging and purpose. Community roles can be active in providing a service, supportive, where the members support the activities of another community, or a mixture where the members share experiences, resources, skills and knowledge with each other. Communities can be recreational, and provide a social role in enabling its members to participate in various activities, or provide an educational role in providing its members with knowledge, skills and resources. A community could also be a service provider, an organisation, a local community group or any service that supports people with high support needs (The role of the service provider), or fulfill any other role that is valued in society as well as other communities that it is a part of.

Valued roles provide a common cause or focus for the community. The members develop a sense of pride and purpose in being a part of the community that bond and strengthen the community. The role is valued in a sense that it brings something to the wider community that it is a part of, as well as the members of the community. Valued roles are also about community leadership that is intouch with the community and can create a feeling of importance within the members.

... Community members that support disadvantaged people in their community are valued by those people, as well as the community that they are a part of, Meals on Wheels etc. Members offer support and provide a service in helping others in their community. I remember the LIONS club was involved in supporting people in the community. It is possible for any community to institute this culture. We often see this happening spontaneously in communities where a member is sick etc.
... Recreation communities are valued within the wider community in providing a means for its members to participate in activities, develop skills, share experiences and and friendships within the activity.
... Supporters that support a sporting club are valued by the club and have a valued role in the club. The club also has a valued role in the wider community.
... Volunteers that work for and support organisations are valued by the organisation and have a valued role within the organisation.
... Events such as 'Clean up Australia' provide a valued role for communities and groups to clean up Australia.

There are lots of other examples of communities and groups that have a valued role.
This can happen in any community where disadvantaged people can be included in activities through various strategies.
By providing a valued role for a community (living, recreation, education or employment) through some form of participation where a person is included in the community (active role), rather than the current model (supportive role), the community learns new values and skills in supporting people people with high support needs. Minority communities generally have devalued roles in society. These communities have a charecteristic, agenda or function that is not representive of the society in which the community participates.

Identity and purpose:
Generally communities are modelled around a particular paradigm (or role) that defines the identity and purpose of the community as a whole. People that wear a costume or a particular item of clothing are identified with a particular activity or cultural / ethnic group. Athletes are identified with a particular sport, actors are identified with the stage, TV and films, doctors / patients are identified with hospitals, teachers / students are identified with schools etc. Language is often another way people identify with each other. They generally define the type of relationship the members have with each other and their environment so that the members can behave accordingly.

A community that has a well-defined purpose ...
... Provides a common “cause” and direction for the community as a whole
... Provides a common “cause” and direction for members within the community
... Is more likely to be effective in using its resources
... Is more likely to be effective in supporting its members
... Is more likely to be identified when it is a part of a larger community
... Is more able to identify and react to events that are outside its control

Goals: A set of outcomes which are measurable:
While the community has a set of goals and objectives, the members also have their own defined goals and objectives which complement and support the goals and objectives of the community. The community is also dependant on the members achieving their own goals and objectives, in achieving it's (the community’s) own goals and objectives.

All communities measure their success or failure (outcomes) against these goals and objectives. These outcomes provide a sense of achievement (or loss) for the community as a whole as well as the members of the community, and can be measured in any number of ways. Families need to pay the bills, workers need to achieve targets, doctors need to heal the sick etc. Two broad types of outcomes can be described as:

Objective outcomes (community)
... Are measured scientifically and economically
... Facts and figures, targets etc
... Physical rewards
... Tools and equipment
... Facilities
Objective outcomes are tangible in the sense that they can be seen, touched and measured by all members within the community as well as others outside the community.

Subjective outcomes (members)
... Are measured as benefits
... Facts and figures, targets etc
... Physical rewards
... Skills / knowledge etc
... Emotional
... Spiritual
Subjective outcomes are intangible in the sense that they reflect the member’s feelings, experiences and gains through achieving the goals and objectives. The outcomes will have different effects on the members according to their expectations, what their role was and how much they were changed (learned new skills / knowledge, new life experiences, new relationships etc).

Outcomes can be community orientated (objective / scientific), member orientated (subjective / social) or a mixture of both:


Shows the relationship between the community / members / outcomes.

Using the example of a new football ground that is built in a suburb, it can be seen that there are two distinct outcomes:
1) Objective: The football ground has been built. It can be seen and touched.
2) Subjective: The football ground is a symbol of accomplishment and pride within the football community, in providing a valued resource for it's members and can be shared with other communities. But what about the other communities that may be involved? Do they have the same feelings as the football community?



2) Have shared beliefs, values, cultures (institutions) (Top) (Characteristics)

Institutions define the way we interact with each other within the community. They are determined by the formal and informal cultures and values of the society in which the community participates, and provide order and stability within the community.
"Institutions are structures and mechanisms of social order and cooperation governing the behavior of a set of individuals. Institutions are identified with a social purpose and permanence, transcending individual human lives and intentions, and with the making and enforcing of rules governing cooperative human behavior. The term, institution, is commonly applied to customs and behavior patterns important to a society, as well as to particular formal organizations of government and public service. As structures and mechanisms of social order among humans, institutions are one of the principal objects of study in the social sciences, including sociology, political science and economics. Institutions are a central concern for law, the formal regime for political rule-making and enforcement. The creation and evolution of institutions is a primary topic for history." (Wikipedia: Institutions)

Without a form of order and stability ...
... the community can not fulfill its role,
... there are no boundaries that define the community,
... the members do not see themselves as a part of the community,
... communication brakes down, or is nonexistent
... the commnity looses its skills and reources,
... the community can not fulfill its needs,
... clubs, teams, groups etc are no longer are a part of the community,


Characteristics of an institution

These 6 broad characteristics can be further broken down to describe a particular insitution.
Culture :
"The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture)
The culture of the institution is the way the institution is organised. This is generally determined by its role in society. For example, while the institutions of a hospital, nursing home or prison are simular, the culture of each is quite different.
Values:
Institutional values (or social values) are different to our personal values in that they allow the members to function within the institution.
Hierarchy :
Institutions are all about a means of coordination and cooperation. The hierarchy defines the agenda and purpose, and the way things get done.
Roles :
Leadership is probally the most important role, and provides the identity and purpose within the institution. Other roles are determined by the hierarchy and the members in fulfilling the the agenda and purpose of the institution.
Expectations :
The members are expected to fulfill their assigned role within the institution.
Behaviours :
The way the members treat each other or interact with each other is determined by the culture, values, hierarchy, roles and expectations of the members within the institution.

Institutions can be thought of within two main groups:
1) Institutional care (formal) : provides the mechanisms for providing support for a group in society.
... Short term care
... Long term care
2) Social institutions (informal) : provides the mechanisms for social interaction and participation.

 Formal institutions:
Are defined by the agenda, mission statement, objectives, values and behaviours of the business, service, organisation or community. These are generally set out by a code of ethics and behaviours that can be used to measure the outcomes of the institution. These can be voluntary, where the servise, organisation or busness sets its own standards, or mandatory, where they are built into government regulations that allows the institution to function.

Short term care:
Any service that happens in an acceptable period of time, and does not have much impact on our lives. I may get a plumber to fix the tap or go to the doctor for a checkup. I can get on with my normal lives without to much irritation. If for some reason the plumber has to replace all the pipes in the house, or I have to go the the hospital for a few days, my normal routine is disrupted for an appreciable amount of time, and may create some stress for me and the others around me. I may enroll in a course at school or uni and have to change my whole lifestyle to accomodiate the different patterns and routines. I have books to buy, lectures to attend, exams to pass, and various other social functions associated with the school or uni. There are behavoiurs and expectations required of me and this can be a very stressful period. However I know that I am working toward a goal, and am prepared to adjust my normal way of living for the period required. Even changing a job or moving house can involve a stressful period until I adjust to the new situation. What ever happens, I know that I still have some control over my life and still have the choice to opt out of the system if I choose to.

Goffman also makes the distinction between long term and short term stay. When the stay is short time and the outcomes are positively valued, the person may be able to adjust to their normal living patterns quickly. Short term stay can also result in negative valued outcomes that last a persons lifetime.

Long term care:
It could be argued that the process of institutionalisation starts within our family, in the day care centre or kindergarten or with friends and peer groups. We learn the values and cultures from significant others in our lives. Whatever happens, there is a sense of control over our life. We can plan and work toward a future, and those institutions are a part of the backround, just as a canvas is the background that a picture is painted on. Its only when these institutions become more promonent in our life, that problems occur.

The longer the time in istitutional care, the more disruption occures in a person's life.
There is a period of adjustment, and maybe rebellion, to the new situation.
There is a learning curve involved in finding out how things work (learning the ropes).
The amount of loss of independence depends on
the reason for the long term care
the amount of skill and resources the person has
the amount of skills and resources the service has
the amount of control the person has over his/her own life

A person may have to give up a significant amount of his/her previous life
belongings
friends
lifestyle
may be realocated to another setting that is more able to provide for his/her needs.

A person may spend a few years in a hospital or in a university. The amount of restrictions in the person's life depends on the institution, as well as the skills and resources of the service. The longer the person spends in institutional care, the more institutionalised the person becomes. For some, this can be a gradual process, and others, this process can be sudden and abrupt. For others, it is the only way of life that they have known. Goffman acknowledges that the concept of a "Total institution" is a concept only, that institutions can never be total, but can be positioned on a continuum from open to closed (Total Institutions: K. Joans & A.J. Fowles - In Understanding health and social care By Margaret Allott, Martin Robb, 1998, Open University P.70). Goffman uses the term "institution" to describe the building and the institution of the building (the social construction). An interesting observation about the concept of a "Total institution" is that there is an assumption is that the staff of the institution are just as institutionalised as the residents, This may be the case where the staff treat others outside the institution the same as the residents of the institution, however, the term "institutionalised" refers to the residents of the institution and not the staff, visitors or any outside contact that staff may have with the outside world, Therefore, any institution, where the residents have no contact with others, (staff, family, friends etc.) or the outside world, can be considered as a total institution in the truest sense of the word.

It is also interesting that a person is not considered institutionalised, where, the experiences are positevely valued. Institutional care, then, is an ordered and specalised intervention that requires an appropriate setting, skills and resources that are not available within the wider community. The way the care is provided and the outomes of this care are directly related to the service that provides the support. A prision, for example, has the same institutions as a hospital, however it is immediately obvious that the outcomes of the prision and the hospital are different. Even within different prisions and hospitals we see different outcomes.

When referring to an institution, there needs to be a new perspective in the way we approch service delivery. Institutions are neither open or closed, they just are. The way we use these institutions within the service determines the outcomes of the service.


Shows the relationship between the length of care and the amount of institutionalised care provided.

From the above, it can be seen that the institutions of the buildings and communities that disadvantaged people were placed in, are the same as the institutions of the different buildings and communities that we all participate in, but have different outcomes. At he bank, we have to suffer all sorts of indignities to get a loan or see a teller. There is no compensation when something happens to our money because it is not their fault. Even when it is there fault, there is no one that takes responsibility.

Within the banking institution ...
... There is a sense of loss of self within the systen.
... A small staff/client ratio
... Are treated as objects (numbers, interns, defectives ect)
... Settings and activities are structured around staff --> clients
... Strict separation of staff and clients
While there are these negative outcomes, the value of the institution is positively valued by society. The institution may also be negatively valued by different communities within society.

Informal institutions:
Informal institutions allow the members or groups to function within the servise, organisation or busness. These institutions may vary according to what the members do within the business, service, organisation or community. Different members or groups have different functions or roles that allow these groups to coordinate their activities within the organisation. These institutions are informal because they are more about the way these members and groups interact with each other, rather any formal policies, rules or regulations of the servise, organisation or busness. There can be any number of layers in the business, service, organisation or community, The bigger the business, service, organisation or community, the more layers there may be.

These institutions...
... define the way the members or groups functions within business, service, organisation or community - how does it do it?
... set the scope and boundaries of the members or groups within business, service, organisation or community - when does it do it?
... define the roles of the members of the members or groups within business, service, organisation or community - who does what?


The relationship between the the formal and informal institutions
 within the business, service, organisation or community.


While the business, service, organisation or community has a role in society, each group has another role within the organisation, and each member has a different role within the group, within the organisation. The institutions of each layer also determines the way the organisation functions within society. Disability services have different areas that support people. Homes have different cultures. One home may be supported along a medical model and another may be supported along a social model. While each home supports the formal institutions of the organisation, the informal institutions of each home are different.



3) Have clearly defined boundaries (Top) (Characteristics)

Boundaries can be physical, virtual or psychological. They define the identity of the community. All communities need a way to determine what the community does and how it does it. Without boundaries, the roles of the community become meaningless. Does a sporting community focus on transportation or scientific research? While transportation or scientific research may be a part of the community, they are not a part of the role on the community in society.

Without boundaries the community may ...
... become unfocused,
... become too diversified and uncoordinated,
... not adequately provide for its own needs, or the needs of its members,
... create tensions within communities that it is a part of, or a part of it,
... create layers of bureaucracy that become communities in their own right,

Boundaries are often defined by the ...
... the institutions of the community
... the members of the community
... the settings (physical, virtual or psychological)
... government (local state and federal) policy and practice
... other communities that it is are a part of, or are a part of it



4) Have ownership of their members (Top) (Characteristics)

All members share a common cause and have a sense of identity. A sense of belonging is created where the members are connected to, and interact with each other.

Just as the members of the community have ownership of their lives and property, the community has ownership of its members and property through the various mechanisms put in place by the community.

The community has ownership of its members through:
... May involve some formal / informal induction or rite of passage
... Commitment: Members have a sense of obligation towards the community.
... Loyalty: Members give up a certain amount personal autonomy for the greater good.
... Respect: Members have respect for each other.
... Responsibility: Members take on responsibilities (and feel responsible for others) within the community.
... Safety and security: Members feel that they can call on other members in times of need or when threatened.
... Resources: Community resources are owned by the community on behalf of its members. Personal resources are sometimes shared between the members.
... All members have the opportunity to participate in the activities of the community.

Like a machine with a number of moving parts, the community becomes a single unit where individual members become interdependent on each other and act in harmony with each other in working towards the common goal.

Just as doctors become protective of their patients (in the sense that they develop a relationship and have their records and history), communities can become protective of their members.

Ownership is also about providing valued roles for the members of the community.

Roles are often unconsciously placed on ourselves and others, depending on the situation. These roles can enhance or diminish (disadvantage) our own (and others) identity within the community. The values that are placed on a particular role (father, mother, friend, colleague, partner, equal etc) are determined by the person's relationship to the other members of the community, as well as their relationship to the community as a whole.

It is possible for any person to be disadvantaged for any reason in any community. Some studies were done with school children a few years ago where the class was divided into groups (Blue eyes Brown eyes). The results clearly showed that people become disadvantaged quite easily. Just as Muslems were targeted a few years ago because they may be terrorists, all Muslems became disadvantaged. The same thing happened to the Jews and any number of other groups of people. The same thing can happen in any community. If I wear my P.J's to work (which has happened in America) I am seen as someone who is different. In some communities a particular characteristic can be an advantage. While I was travelling around the Northern Territory I certianily felt like a second class person in the shops. I spent some time living in an Aboriginal community and it took a while to become accepted as a part of their community. The Blind and Deaf also have their own communities. A person may be valued as a son or daughter, singer, intellectual or a friend and colleague in one community, yet have a characteristic that would diminish the person's identity within another community.

Any person that has a particular characteristic that disadvantages
their ability to fulfil their needs, actively partake in the normal activities
of their community, or devalues their identity within their community.

These roles are valued or devalued according to:
... How the particular role is valued or devalued in the community (in a sense that the community would suffer as a result of members not being able to fulfil those roles).
... What the person brings to the community.
... How the person interacts with other members.

1) Community valued roles: (How the particular role is valued or devalued in the community)
... An activity or behaviour that is provided on behalf of the community.
The community values services such as providing roads, electricity, parks and gardens and even delivering the morning paper etc. Devalued roles would be parking inspectors, taxation inspectors etc.
... Role models.
Robert K. Merton introduced the term "role model", where members value a particular activity or behaviour.
“Merton says that individuals compare themselves with "reference groups" of people who occupy the social role to which the individual aspires.[3] The term has passed into general use to mean any "person who serves as an example, whose behaviour is emulated by others".[4]”  (Wikipedia)

Learned helplessness generations learn from their peers,

2) Professional / non-professional valued roles: (What the person brings to the community)
Communities often have two or more groups, who have defined roles that bring order to the community. These roles are valued in the sense that the groups are interdependent on each other, not that one group has control over the other (although this does happen), but that a group cannot exist without the other groups. Teachers could not exist without students, doctors could not exist without patients, shops could not exist without customers etc.

3) Personally valued roles: (How the person interacts with other members)
Perhaps the most important, as these define our personal relationships to each other. How we feel about others can be comlpex, and depends on our own experiences, how well we know the person as well as our experiences with the person. We may value the person in the role of a teacher or a policeman, but would never value the person's friendship. Alternatively, we may value the person's friendship regardless of who they are or what they do. Being valued as a part of their own community gives a person a sense of belonging. There is a sense of worth or value in the person, whatever the other roles are. A mother, for example would highly value her son or daughter regardless of their disability, or what they have done. The son or daughter brings a sense of fulfilment to her life.

Social Role Valorisation (SRV) is designed to overcome the initial barriers that disadvantaged people have in developing relationships in different communities, so that they have an opportunity to participate in the activities and share experiences and be a part of those communities. SRV has made us aware that disadvantaged people need the same opportunities to fulfill their needs, develop relationships and pariticipate in activities that are a normal part of their community. In essence, SRV says; "These people are devalued, lets make them valued". Alternatively, by providing valued roles to all members of the community, they have an opportunity to actively participate in a positive way;
... all members of the community are included
... individuals are valued as a part of the community
... their own identities are enhance in being a part of the process
... individual differences (characteristics) become less important when all members are working towards a common goal.

German sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies refers to relationships as being a mix of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft. We all place different values on our relationships to others within the community. These values are determined by:

... How we see ourselves
We often act out various roles (wear different hats) according to our relationship to the others in the group Eg: father, boss, kitchen hand etc. Often when people move from one community to another, they bring their own values, customs etc with them, and they wonder why everyone is against them. They see the the local values, customs as a personal insult. Instead of fitting into the new community they see themselves as being victimised by its members. People that are devalued become conditioned to being treated as such (low self esteem etc), and when they are placed in an environment that does not devalue them, they either behave as if they were devalued, or overcompensate and act out a fantisy to prove to themselves and others that they are equals.

... How we see others
We all learn how to treat others from our peers (parents, brothers, sisters and significant others). How we were treated ourselves, or how we see others treating others, is sometimes the only guide we have in developing relationships (Social Learning Theory). We often expect others to behave in a certain way. When confronted with something new, or outside our experience, we can try different stratergies. T.V., radio, newspapers and magazines play a major role in influencing our behaviour and how we value others. SRV tells us that we should value others for who they are, not according to the particular characteristic they have.

The values that we assign to others are also generally determined by the relationship we have with the person:
Personal communities (private, personal, and public)

By association or behaviour which is not the normal association or behaviour of the person

 ... How others see us
We often behave as others see us and treat us (value us) (Self-Fulfilling Prophecy). We may have a particular characteristic that is offensive or different than the norm and therefor we will be treated differently.
 
 ... How others see others
Social conventions (norms, influence, conformity, peer preasure) also contribute to the values, roles and expectations we place on others. We all treat each other differently according to the the environment we are in. At the pub a person may be seen as a trouble maker who picks fights

At work, for example, I may value a person highly, but because I am not looking after the person, I will allow others to devalue the person in the way they look after the person, because of the:
... work culture and environment: where I may be seen as a trouble maker if I complain about the the way other staff look after the residents, I have my own work to do and don't interfere, there is no consistancy of care between permanent staff that know the residents and others that do not know the residents, there is a set routine in the work place that places restrictions on what I can and cant do,
... management hierarchy, care plans etc: there are conflicts in what management and staff see as most appropriate care,
... way we see others behaving (patronising, etc) towards a person and assume that it is normal to treat the person that way.

These roles can be both objective (how the role is attributed to the person) and subjective (how the role is valued by the person):
 ... objective (community valued roles)
 ... subjective (personally valued roles)

Personal communities:
The values that we assign to others



5) Communicate effectively with their members (Top) (Characteristics)

The community needs to be able to communicate with its members in order to achieve its goals.
The members communicate with each other to share thoughts, feelings, experiences, skills and knowledge. Clear thinking and expression of thoughts is essential to effective communication.

The community also needs to communicate with others outside the community. To function effectively as a community, the community needs to be able to respond to events that are outside the community and have an impact on the community.

“Communication is the process of exchanging information, beliefs and feelings among people; it may be oral, written, or nonverbal. Information may travel up, down, or horizontally.” [5]

Oral communication:
The most common form.
Written communication:
People communicate using words, signs, pictures etc.
Nonverbal communication:
The most misunderstood form of communication. All behaviour is communication. When we talk to someone or write to someone we also convey messages in our behaviour (gestures etc) to reinforce the communication. When there is no verbal or written communication associated with the behaviour, the respondent has to interpret the behaviour into something that can be made sense of. Mostly the message is obvious but sometimes the message does not get through.

A good example:
Person A is shouting and screaming.
Person B may think:
Person A is shouting and screaming because the person happy.
Person A is shouting and screaming because the person is upset, angry or in pain.
Person A is shouting and screaming at me and needs to be disciplined.
Person A is shouting and screaming to draw attention to some event (the place is on fire etc).

The main function of communication is to make decisions. The effectiveness of the community is dependent upon the quality of the decisions, and the quality of the decisions is dependent upon the quality of the communication between its members. Communication and decision making involve the exchange of facts, ideas, and opinions. Winn & Guditus [5] describe communication, as well as decision making, as essential to all other functions such as planning, organising, coordinating, goal setting, directing, evaluating, managing conflict, and managing change.

For a community to be able to effectively communicate to each other, there needs to be a code, or set of principles. Anderson [6] lists some examples of productive behaviours.
... All members participate and freely express themselves
... Members are listened to and receive empathic responses
... Supporting and having respect for each other
... Treating everyone equally, whilst valuing difference eg. Gender
... Taking time to appreciate one another’s point of view
... Aiming for mutual understanding
... Respecting the knowledge and experience each brings to the task
... Being non-judgemental / avoiding negative criticism
... Being open to learning



6) Can depend on their own skills/resources (Top) (Characteristics)

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the community?

Data collection and information
... Understanding the services and service processes
... Identify existing resources in the community
... Identify resources not in the community
... Adequate and appropriate service delivery strategies and mechanisms in place
... Innovating

An available source of wealth that can be drawn upon when needed.
The community needs to have resources that it can depend on in order to achieve its goals.

Inventory and control of resources
... The most important resources are the members themselves. Members bring their own resources (experiences, skills, knowledge, tools, equipment etc) to the community.
... Tools and equipment
... Facilities
... Natural resources

Allows for reliable, effective and efficient use of the resources.
Resources can be quickly distributed and used where necessary.
Resources that are not used can be identified.

The skills and resources of the community ...
... knowledge based skills : the particular skills of the community. While communities generally have a set of skills, there is a specific skill or charasteristic that defines the community.
... physical resources : community facilities or services that are available to the members.

While community skills and resources are available to the community, they may not be available to all members within the community. The members also need their own skills and resources to access those skills and resources. Just as a country may have a known amount of resources, these resources ane not automatically available to its citizens. The members may need to invest some personal time and resources in gaining access to the skills and resources of the community. There may also be some negotiation, payment, policy, process, induction or rite of passage that allows or disallows a person access to those skills and resources.

The skills and resources of its members ...
... the skills that can be shared by the members
... the physicial wealth that can be shared by the members
... the social networks of its members

While the community has it's skills and resources, the members also have their own skills and resources. These are needed to access the community. They are also shared between the members where there is a common need between the members. The members may also share their personal skills and resources in times of crises or where the community is threatened. Often the needs of the community come before the needs of it's members, and as a result some members may become disadvantaged where their skills and resources may be taken from them and used to provide for the needs of the community. Fees, rates or taxes that are used to provide community services and facilities is one example where personal wealth (skills and resources) is used to fulfill a need that all members may be unable to acces. A community need may be a new football stadium, however, only a small group of members will take advantage of the stadium. What happens to the poor, the aged, the members with no education, health or transportation?.



7) Balance their own needs (Top) (Characteristics)

Effective communities
... Understand the changing internal and external environments and how they relate to the community
... Involve all members
... Effective communication between all members
... Understand what members need
... Aware of relevant research and the evidence base for practice
... Data gathering, analysis and reporting mechanisms
... Informed decision making processes
... Coordinating internal and external services

The community needs to identify the needs of its members and distribute the resources in the most effective way so that the members can fulfil their roles. These needs are often prioritised according to available resources in meeting those needs and who will benefit most. Members have different needs within the community.

Often, there are a number of unresolved issues in the community that are not necessarily related to each other (politics, personal agendas, interest groups etc). These issues may lie simmering under the surface and are generally not dealt with until a crises mobilises the community (that the whole community is threatened in a sense that the community will not be able to function as a whole until the issue has been resolved, eg the roads need fixing, power and gas shortages, strikes for more wages etc). Even then, where issues do not threaten the community as a whole, we see sub-groups (sub-communities) forming within the community that feel that they do not share some of the characteristics of the community of which they are a part of. Where there is no visible threat to the community as a whole, members become complacent and prefer to leave the status quo. Individual members (or groups) need to motivate and mobilise (create a sense of urgency or importance within) the community to achieve a desired outcome.



8) Can share and draw on skills/resources where needed (Top) (Characteristics)

Well connected with other communities and services ...
... Informed decision making processes.
... Understanding the changing external environments and how they relate to the community.
... Good working relationships with other communities and services.
... Identify resources that are duplicated within the community.
... Identify resources that are not practical for the community to keep within the community.
... Identify resources that can be shared with other communities.
... Identify resources that are not available within the community.
... Adequate and appropriate service delivery strategies and mechanisms in place.

The community needs to identify skills / resources that are unique to the community so that they can be used effectively.
The community needs to identify skills / resources that are not within the community and draw on those skills / resources where necessary.
The community can share skills / resources where necessary.



Societies and a social conscience (Top)

What is society? (Top)
“A society or a human society is (1) a group of people related to each other through persistent relations. (2) A large social grouping that shares the same geographical territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations.

The term society came from the Latin word societas, which in turn was derived from the noun socius ("comrade, friend, ally"; adjectival form socialis) thus used to describe a bond or interaction among parties that are friendly, or at least civil. Human societies are characterized by patterns of relationships (social relations) between individuals sharing a distinctive culture and institutions; a given society may be described as the sum total of such relationships among its constituent members. Without an article, the term refers either to the entirety of humanity or a contextually specific subset of people. In social sciences, a society invariably entails social stratification and/or dominance hierarchy.”
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Society)

Societies are more than a bunch of people stuck together in the same space and time. They are organised into groups that have various functions within society. These functions are organised into various roles that fit together like a clock or a play.

These groups can be described in any number of ways according to the relationship of the group with other groups in society. They provide a way to understand our relationships with each other and the others around us:
... Society: probably the most inclusive or generalised
... Community: defines our relationships within society
... Clubs: defines our relationships within the community
... Teams: defines our relationships within clubs
... Groups: defines our relationships within teams
(These groups can be reorganised any way according to the perspective of the user)

The expressions "society", "social" and "community" have often been used to mean the same things. A social group describes the common characteristics of a group, but not the personal relationships within the group. A community group is the shared interests, networks and relationships we have with each other within society. While a person can move from one community to another easily according to his/her needs at a particular time, it is more difficult to move from one society to another. As a result we see lots of communities that are a part of the same social group.

If someone wants to build a nuclear reactor in a suburb, I would be more inclined to protest if it was planned to be built in my suburb. If the nuclear reactor became a social issue, there would be a great deal of discussion about the project.

Simply put, society could be best described as the way we do things, and, community is who we do those things with.


What is a social consciousness? (Top)

"Social consciousness is consciousness shared within a society. It can also be defined as social awareness; to be aware of the problems that different societies and communities face on a day-to-day basis; to be conscious of the difficulties and hardships of society." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_consciousness)

An awareness of the various social relationships within a community, as well as other communities that it is a part of, and the wider social relationships that they are a part of, is crucial in how the community succeeds of fails in providing for the needs of its members. Just as people interact with each other, communities interact with each other, and it is up to the community to determine how it works towards achieving its desired goals and objectives. Communities need to be able to react to events outside their control and have an impact on the community. They need to be able to balance their own needs and resources with the needs and resources of the wider community that they are a part of.


The social systems within the community: (Top)
These social systems could also be described as the Informal insitiutions of a community.


What is community: (Top)

What Is Community
What Is Community



[1] Fisher, B.A., and Ellis, D.G. (1990, p. 14) Small Group Decision Making, Communication and the Group Process,
Third edition. USA: College Composition Unit.

[2] Wynn, R., and Guditus, C.W. (1984, p.128) Team Management: Leadership by Consensus.
USA: Charles E. Merril Publishing Company
[5] Wynn, R., and Guditus, C.W. (1984, p.72) Team Management: Leadership by Consensus.
USA: Charles E. Merril Publishing Company
[6] Anderson, M. (1998d), (class handout). Ground Rules For Teams. Perth Western
Australia: Edith Cowan University.