! Understanding communities
Dysfunctional communities !
disability service organisations ! An alternative model ! Community research ! Community survey
Communities are as varied and
individual as its members. Often people belong to two or more
communities. Family, education, business, work, sport, religion,
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
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
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.
origin of community is from the latin word:
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)
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
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.
Any activity that we participate in, usually involves others in groups
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
a spectator, or 2) a player or 3) umpires. It is immediately obvious
that there are
fundamental differences in the individual members of the group that are
A business has 1) staff that work towards the success of the
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
cause or purpose for which individual members become interdependent
other. A disaster (such as a fire or flood), quiz or competition etc,
the catalyst in transforming the individuals into groups or
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
condition that disadvantages their ability to participate in the
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
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
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
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
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
... They share values, knowledge, skills, resources,
... They feel a sense of collective responsibility, achievement and
... 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
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
A number of people
sufficiently small for each to be aware of and have some reaction to
interdependent purpose in which the success of each is contingent upon
success of others in achieving this goal.
Each person has a
sense of belonging or membership, identifying himself with the other
(not all of the interaction will be oral, but a significant
characteristic of a
group is reciprocal influence exercised by talking).
Behaviour based on
norms and procedures accepted by all members.
Larson and LaFatso (1989, p.19) define
a team as:
team has two or more people: it has a specific performance objective or
recognisable goal to be obtained: and coordination of activity among
members of the team is required for the attainment of the team goal or
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
... 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.
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
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
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
... 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
specific task or objective of the group.
Groups, teams and communities are all
about relationships, and the way
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
It is important to understand communities on three different levels;
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,
how we define
our relationships to each other,
... communities that we are a part of (Social): the communities that
sense of belonging, security, shared interests and relationships,
... communities we associate with (Public): the communities that we
in but do not belong to.
Personal communities are about relationships and how we define those
relationships (Circles of
describe personal communities as a mix of relationships
(High or low) and commitment (High or low):
the hope of introducing some
conceptual clarity we see the issue as being aboutsome kind of social
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
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.
communities are not the
same as the communities that
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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,
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.
Within most communities there are communities (sub groups) that share
People generally socialise with others that have the same
… Shared characteristics such as
culture, age or gender: people identify more
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
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.
, Model minority
, Dominant minority
"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."
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
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)
of a Minority Group
physical or cultural
traits, e.g. skin color or language
Unequal Treatment and Less
Involuntary membership in the
(no personal choice)
Awareness of subordination and
sense of group solidarity
High In-group Marriage"
Other characteristics of a Minority
... 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
Individuals that are at the ends of the social scale tend to be
1) Communities can become conditioned
to behave a certain way. There are
numerous examples where the patterns of behaviour within a community
been influenced by a person, event or activity that involves the whole
community. They can happen in a short time, or over a period of
generations. The attack on the World Trade Centre is a good example
where community attitudes and behaviours were changed in a day. The
motor car, the
telephone, internet and other forms of communication have also changed
the way communities behave. We also see the creation of new communities
cultures built around cult figures, ideologies, music etc. Communities
can change with each new generation where young people find their
own identities, they develop their own language, cultures and customes
that are unfamular to older generations. We see communities that have
to adapt to the changing landscape. The RSL was formed to support
solders returned from the great wars. With the numbers of solders
getting smaller each year the RSL is having to find new ways of staying
relevant to the community as a whole. Religous communities are also
having to look new ways they can stay in touch with the changing
needs of their members.
Communities can also change in a subtle way that is not recognised
until the transformation has happened. These changes can affect whole
communities or communities within communities where members grow up in
environments, and learn particular ways of thinking, they learn the
behaviours, values and roles of their peers. New generations live in
communities that are consumer orientated (consumer societies). Why do
it your self when you can purchase it? We loose the skills 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
2) They are generally outside the
experiences of the other members of the community.
Anything that is different to what is expected will elicit a negative
response; I dont know how to deal with the situation, or I dont want to
deal with this situation, or someone else can deal with this situation,
or a conditioned response that has been successful in the past, or
learned from other members, or passed down from generation to
generation and embedded into the culture.
Comunities can also be suspicious of anything new or different. The
beliefs, values, cultures and behaviours (institutions) are valued as a
part of the community and anything that comes along that challenges
these institutions will be resisted. Muslems for example bring their
traditions with them and expect everyone else to respect them. They
live and participate in the community but find that they may become
marganilised because their cultures, customes and behaviours are not
accepted within the wider community.
3) Communities generally cater for the community as a whole, rather
than meeting individual needs.
When designing facilities, services or activities for the community, it
is impracticable to measure everyone in the community, so a standard is
used that takes into account the averages of its members. Buildings are
built to a standard, services are designed to meet certain criteria,
education and recreational activities are designed around the average
person. Any one outside these averages will be disadvantaged. My mother
is fairly independent, but restricted to a wheel chair, and simple
things like going to the movies etc become a logistical headache. I
know that when I buy a pair of pants or a shirt my size it may take me
a while to find the right size because one size in one brand is not the
same fit in
another brand (too big or small). I find the whole process frustrating,
and can somewhat imagine what it would be like for someone with a
severe physical disability to go throughout their whole life like that.
4) There is generally some form of harm, friction or conflict of
between the members. A good example is where a person with a physical
disability tries to do some shopping and cannot access the shop for
various reasons, and complains to the management. The management does
see the need to make any modifications (too expensive etc) and sees the
person as a trouble maker. The person becomes frustrated and angry with
the manager or feels marginalised in not being able to participate in
the activity. The members of the minority group (or others acting on
become aggressive in asserting their rights (and sometimes without
regard to the rights of the others).
We see various minority rights movements actively promoting their cause
community education, protests, demonstrations, riots and
civil wars. The rights of people with disability that are enshrined in
(Disability Service Standards etc) only came about through advocacy and
education, were people made a stand against the community. People can
also be marginalised by
their behaviour, the activities
that they participate in (taking illegal drugs, stealing etc) or
association to a particular ethnic,
cultural or religious group (street gangs, crime gangs, extreme
religious groups etc). There is a perception that
the characteristic is harmfull or dangerous to other members of the
community. Other people that have aids or a particular
contagious disease etc are
also marginalised (or even disenfranchised) to protect the other
members of the community.
5) Its too hard. People that do not have the support networks
necessary for participating in the activities of the community, or may
not be able to cope with other members
of the community become
marginalised. Members that do not have the means (through a disability
or a lack of resources - personal and social) find that it is better to
just stay at home or mix with their own kind.
People who share a characteristic that is rare in the community often
become marginalised because of a lack of resources to support their
needs. Safety and security also become more important than being a part
community. A good example is where famous people are hounded by the
paparazzi, they feel victimised and powerless to the point that their
lives are at risk.
We may be
valued as a part of one community, but devalued (and marginalised) in
another community because of a particular characteristic
that is not shared with the other members of the community. Australian
aboriginals and American Indians
minority groups not because of their numbers, but that they often have
a different (and some would say lower) lifestyle than what is
considered the norm in Australia or America.
People that have a physical or intellectual disability are also
regarded as a minority group within the community. If I went to India,
I would be considered as a part of a minority group because of my skin
colour etc. Minority groups in politics often represent the extreme
the political spectrum.
wealthy people, royalty, film and pop stars etc can also 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
to speak) and being
by others. We see others that aspire to that status, are
jealous or envious of their position try to knock them down (tall poppy
Groups of people can be marginalised very easily. People who smoke
tobacco are being increasingly
marginalised by the increasing restrictions in where they can smoke. We
also see P plate drivers being restricted in the type of vechicle they
are allowed to drive. People who are overweight are being refused
elective surgery, people with drug dependencies are being denied safe
controlled places to use the drug and have the opportunity to 'kick'
Community services and organisations sometimes unintentionally
marginalise their members by:
... Providing facilities 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.
... Develop the social
networks and participate in the activities of the community service or
... Are valued within the community service or organisation.
... Feel connected to each other and are interdependent
each other for various reasons.
... Communicate with each other.
... Share resources etc
... Become identified as a part of the community service or
The individual members 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
may be grouped together
may be labeled
with the same characteristics
may have their rights taken away from them
may be seen as a minority group and therefore may be treated as a
may be denied the good things in life that are available to others in
A lack of skills and resources in the community also means that the
person may be seen as:
a sick person : the person is treated
differently to others
: takes up resources that are needed elsewhere
troublemaker : is always trying to standup for their basic rights
object of pity : the person can not look after themselves
subhuman or retarded : is not capable of making their own decisions
In fact some members of these groups are often placed in the same
today (both literally and figuratively) that Goffman, Wolfensberger and
others wrote about in the past.
Members, Roles, Institutions and
People with drug and alcohol problems
People with mental illnesses
People with high support needs
The relationships between Members,
Roles, Institutions and Values in the 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
Its no good being a part of a
when you can't access the community.
Communication between members
Its no good being a part of a
when you can't communicate with others, or they can't communicate with
Build a profile of yourself within the
community so that others know you and have the opportunity to find some
Understand the community. What are the
activities, values etc. of the community. Find some ways where your
involvement contributes to the community.
value of a persons role
is purely subjective when applied to different settings and activities
different communities. We all have different roles
depending on what we are doing, where we are doing it and who we are
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
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
learn our lines from the moment of birth) according to the activity,
and the expectations of others within the activity and setting i.e.: we
wear our bathers to a formal dinner etc. It could also be argued that
communities have become conditioned in behaving a certain way when
after devalued people (in the historical sense, as well as in society
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
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.
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,
constitutions, unwritten laws or codes of behaviour etc. ("social
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.
institution could be describes as:
... any club, facility,
... has more than one member that
actively participates in the club,
facility, organisation or activity
... is organised within a set of formal/informal
values, expectations and behaviours
... may be highly structured within these formal/informal
values, expectations and behaviours
... shares a set of objectives
An institution therefore refers to:
... the setting of the activity: the
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
... the formal/informal behaviours and attitudes of the members: the
various policies, rules, roles,
hierarchies of the members.
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
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
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.
sense are determined by our
relationships with others within the community ...
... what are the preconceptions that
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.
there are a set of values that we use in these associations ...
The needs of the community
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
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.
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
for this blurring of
Social values, attitudes and expectations dictate government policy and
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,
... esteem needs - self-esteem, values,
expectations and behaviours, etc.
... self-actualization needs - empowernment, realising potential,
(Adapted from Abraham
Maslow's Hierarchy of 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?
needs Vs Community needs
Different communities fulfil different
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.
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
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
Having said that, communities are not perfect places. They are
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.
... determines the direction of the
Rights and responsibilities
... provides a valued role for the community and its members
a set of outcomes which are measurable
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
... 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
... the right to refuse entry to members that do not fit into the
... the right to evict members that do not accept the agenda,
constitution and institutions of
... the right to refuse skills and resources to the wider community,
where its members are disadvantaged
... the right to determine its own destiny
... 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
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
... 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
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
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
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.
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
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
the same things, Nothing
could be further from the truth. No one is truly independent. Independent
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 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
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
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,
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
Develop new policies, strategies etc.
… Consolidation/growth: Implement new policies, strategies etc. Develop
membership base, formal / informal structures, skills / resources where
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
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
issues and agendas, form power groups and factions etc. (M.
Life Cycle Matrix
stages of group development
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
access the community
... Communication: the members must be able to communicate with each
... Presence: the members must have some sort of relationship with
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
:.. An agreement between the members about what the community
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
... Has a set of goals - provides a sense of direction.
... Is organised within a set of formal/informal
values, expectations and behaviours (institutions) that defines the
... 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
While different communities have
different roles in society, they all share the same characteristcits.
These characteristics could also be described as its social
. 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
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
1) Have clearly defined
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
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
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
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.
goals are too broad, not within the capacity of
the community, are ineffective,
weak, or compromise individual values, the community becomes unfocused
sight of the objective, as well as
duplicating services that may be available elsewhere
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
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
… To balance the needs of the members
with the needs of the community,
… To share and draw on skills /
resources where needed.
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:
(holistic): is concerned with who we are,
and how we socialise with each other. Human interaction with each other
environment play an important part. Settings are all about how the
members interact with each other and how
environment affects the members as a group. Members also have the
to change their own environment to their own needs without affecting
community as a whole. The purpose (objectives, goals, policies etc.)
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
profession (educational / medical / business). The members have to fit
structured environments that are less accommodating to the needs of
members and how they interact with each other. Settings are about
people, and how the person fits into the environment rather than how
environment fits into the person. The purpose (objectives, goals,
etc.) of the community is formal with clearly defined roles for its
Community services are often built around the professional model, where
or volunteers are employed by the service to support the service users
the goals, values etc. of the service provider. Records are kept on
expenses, care plans, progress notes, medical histories etc.
… Scientific (specialised): is concerned with research,
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
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
the three types (Social, Professional
and Scientific). Social groups need to have the freedom to socialise,
need some order and structure to coordinate activities and work within
etc. Work places etc. need formal structures and environments to
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
they also need to have some flexibility to allow for individual needs.
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
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
activities, the opportunity
to participate in
the activities, share experiences and be a part of their community.
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 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
organisation, a local community group or
any service that supports people with high support needs (The role
of the service
), or fulfill
any other role
that is valued in society
as well as other communities that it is a part of.
provide a common cause or
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
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
are valued by the club and have a valued role
the club. The club
also has a valued role
in the wider
... Volunteers that work for and
support organisations are valued by
organisation and have a valued role
... Events such as 'Clean up Australia'
provide a valued role
communities and groups to clean up Australia.
There are lots of other examples of
communities and groups that have a
This can happen in any community where disadvantaged people can
included in activities through various strategies.
By providing a valued role for a
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
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.
Generally communities are modelled
around a particular paradigm (or
role) that defines the identity and purpose of the community as a
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
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
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
... 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
... Is more able to identify and react
to events that are outside its
Goals: A set of
outcomes which are
While the community has a set of goals and objectives, the members
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
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
... Facts and figures, targets etc
... Physical rewards
... Tools and equipment
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
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
Outcomes can be community orientated (objective / scientific), member
(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
as the football community?
2) Have shared beliefs,
values, cultures (institutions) (Top)
Institutions define the way we interact with each other within the
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.
Without a form of order and stability ...
... the community can not fulfill its
... 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
These 6 broad characteristics can be further broken down to describe a
set of shared attitudes, values,
goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or
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.
Institutional values (or social values)
are different to our personal values in that they allow the members to
function within the institution.
Institutions are all about a means of
coordination and cooperation. The hierarchy defines the agenda and
purpose, and the way things get done.
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.
The members are expected to fulfill
their assigned role within the institution.
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) :
mechanisms for providing support for a group in society.
... Short term care
... Long term care
2) Social institutions (informal) : provides the mechanisms for social
Are defined by the agenda, mission statement, objectives,
values and behaviours of the business, service, organisation or
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
Any service that happens in an acceptable period of time, and does
much impact on our lives. I may get a plumber to fix the tap or go to
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
others, (staff, family, friends etc.) or the outside world, can be
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
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 allow the members or groups to function within
organisation or busness. These institutions may vary according to what
the members do within the business, service, organisation or community.
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.
... 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
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)
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
... create tensions within communities that it is a part of, or a part
... create layers of bureaucracy that become communities in their own
Boundaries are often defined by the ...
... the institutions of the community
4) Have ownership of their members (Top)
... 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
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
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
... 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
... 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
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)
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
have a characteristic that would diminish the person's identity
within another community.
person that has a particular
characteristic that disadvantages
their ability to fulfil their
needs, actively partake in the normal
of their community, or
devalues their identity within their
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
... What the person brings to the
... 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.
introduced the term "role model", where members
particular activity or behaviour.
“Merton says that individuals compare themselves with "reference
groups" of people who occupy the social role to which the individual
The term has passed into general use to mean any "person
who serves as an example, whose behaviour is emulated by
Learned helplessness generations learn from their peers,
2) Professional / non-professional
valued roles: (What the person
brings to the
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
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.
(SRV) is designed to overcome the initial
disadvantaged people have in developing relationships in different
communities, so that they have an opportunity to participate
the activities and share experiences and be a part of those
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,
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
... all members of the community are
... individuals are valued as a part of
... 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
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
often act out various roles (wear different hats) according to our
relationship to the others in the group Eg: father, boss, kitchen hand
Often when people move from one community to another, they bring
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
). 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
). We may have a particular characteristic that is
offensive or different than the norm and therefor we will be treated
... How others see others
Social conventions (norms
) 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
... 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
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)
The values that we assign to others
5) Communicate effectively with
their members (Top)
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
The most common form.
People communicate using words, signs,
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
examples of productive behaviours.
... All members participate and freely
... Members are listened to and receive
... 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)
and weaknesses of the community?
collection and information
... Understanding the services and
... Identify existing resources in the community
... Identify resources not in the community
... Adequate and appropriate service delivery strategies and mechanisms
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
knowledge, tools, equipment etc) to the community.
... Tools and equipment
... 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
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
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 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
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)
... 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
community needs to identify the needs of its
members and distribute the resources in the most effective way so that
members can fulfil their roles. These needs are often prioritised
available resources in meeting those needs and who will benefit most.
have different needs within the community.
there are a number of unresolved issues in the community that are not
related to each other (politics, personal agendas, interest groups
etc). These issues may lie simmering under the surface and
dealt with until a
crises mobilises the community (that
the whole community is
in a sense
community will not be able to function as a whole until the issue has
resolved, eg the roads need fixing, power and gas shortages, strikes
wages etc). Even then, where issues do not threaten the community as a
we see sub-groups (sub-communities) forming within the community that
they do not share some of the characteristics of the community of which
are a part of. Where there is no visible threat to the community as a
members become complacent and prefer to leave the status quo.
members (or groups) need to motivate and mobilise (create a sense of
importance within) the community to achieve a desired outcome.
8) Can share and draw on skills/resources
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
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.
and a social conscience
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
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:
probably the most inclusive or generalised
... Community: defines our relationships within
... Clubs: defines our relationships within the
... Teams: defines our relationships within clubs
... Groups: defines our relationships within
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.
What is a
Simply put, society
could be best
described as the way we do things, and, community is
who we do those things with.
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,
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
needs and resources
the wider community that they are a part of.
systems within the community:
- Peer groups
These social systems could also be described as the Informal
of a community.
What is community:
What Is Community
] Fisher, B.A., and Ellis, D.G. (1990, p. 14)
Small Group Decision
Making, Communication and the Group
Third edition. USA: College
] Wynn, R., and Guditus, C.W. (1984, p.128)
Leadership by Consensus.
USA: Charles E. Merril Publishing Company
] Wynn, R., and Guditus, C.W. (1984, p.72)
Leadership by Consensus.
USA: Charles E. Merril Publishing Company
] Anderson, M. (1998d), (class handout).
Ground Rules For Teams.
Australia: Edith Cowan University.