Community Development in Theory and Practice Essay

Introduction

When one person gets wealthier in the society, it is difficult for others to enjoy the benefits that come with that increase in wealth. It has been, therefore, the aim of every society to ensure equal distribution of income such that everyone in the society can have access to resources that will enable them to improve their living standards.

The community tries to find ways in which it can develop as a whole, providing accessibility to basic requirements that are essential to every member. For a long time now, people have believed that for the society to prosper then the poor or less privileged in the society should be empowered in various ways.

Consequently, community development is found to be inevitable and requires special attention for it to be effective in the society. But community development proves to be an all-round issue that is very flexible, open-ended, accommodating and doctrinaire at the same time.

Definition

Community development is the process by which people of a certain community are involved in tackling the problems that they face in the society. It is about trying to solve the problems that face the community through community groups who are thought to understand the effects better rather than applying a nationalistic approach.

The concerned people are used to come up with ways that they can tackle their own problems using the available resources because it is believed that unless one decides to be involved in the process of development, any efforts to develop the person are futile (Morin 2011).

Community development is also concerned with long term solutions because people are taught on how to fend for themselves as opposed to one-time support, for example food aids. On the other hand, community development tries to follow some laid down procedures on how the whole process should be carried out.

Community Development Theory

Community development has some procedure that, those who advocate for it believe that, if followed properly then the aims can be achieved easily and early enough. Community development theory is a framework of how the whole process should be carried out including the identification of the problems, the indicators of measuring development and the procedure of involving people in the projects (Craig & Popple 2008).

Community development theory requires total elimination of all forms of inequalities, exploitation and social injustices while cultural, economical and human rights should be promoted. On top of that, community development theory outlines that every human being should have relatively average living standards which should be improving continuously as wells as adequate food, shelter and clothing.

Theory of community development is doctrine that strictly defines what strategies to be followed depending on the already existing human behaviour theories, which sometimes are not a reality. It has been said that this theory is based on unrealistic ideas and thus setting out targets which can not be achieved in the real world.

Opponents of theoretical approach claim that problems that are facing human beings in the society require more practical solutions that should be tailored to every situation as it is presented rather than an inflexible approach that assumes that every society is the same (Midgley & Conley 2010).

It should, however, be noted that there are some problems which are similar in every society for example poverty but the method of solving cannot be the same because every society has different resources which can be exploited differently.

Community development theory describes how various situations should be defined, the reasons behind every situation and steps that should be taken in the event that something goes wrong (Hughes 2009).

As impractical as community development theories may be, they set out the initial stages that help in understanding the way society works and therefore, guiding the professionals who are involved in community development projects on how to approach different situations.

Community development theory relies heavily on the content from other disciplines in its attempt to define the society and the different situations that human beings find themselves in since community cannot be approached in a linear way given that human behaviour is diverse.

Therefore, though the framework of community development theory might not be effective per se, it is inevitable in introduction as to how various problems can be solved and it lays the guidelines that are used to achieve practical solutions (Ledwith 2011).

The Open Approach

Community development theory is based on the assumption that community problems are similar in one way or the other across the societies and can, therefore, be approached in a more or less same way.

Unfortunately, societies are different from one another and in many occasions they have different problems and even those that have similar problems attempts at solving these problems cannot be given the same approach since the endowment is diverse (Achatz 2011).

Theory, therefore, just provides a skeleton of what can be done, but the flesh should be added depending on the circumstances on the ground. Community development, therefore, does not bind one to the stringent rules of the theory but provides an open for one to choose the options that are more feasible to the community that is being supported.

When involving the local people at the community level one is supposed to provide guidelines only on how the problem can be solved but let the community come up a way on how best they think they can help in eliminating the problem (Phillips & Pittman 2009).

An agrarian community which is based in a place where there is an abundance of land will find it very comfortable if irrigation is suggested as a means of increasing income. On the other hand, a poor community in slums somewhere in an urban center will find agriculture highly infeasible since in the first place finding a piece of land will be very expensive, but starting small businesses can be the best solution to the poverty problem.

The opponents of theoretical approach to community development argue that, theory is generated by people who rarely understand the situation in the ground and cannot be applicable to problems that people are facing in the societies. They perceive theory as restricting and impractical efforts by professionals to exercise their authority in the whole process while the main question is left out.

They, therefore, propose that theoretical framework should be done away with and let community development personnel deal with the situation as they find it on the ground or use their past experience gained from areas of similar conditions.

Holistic Approach

In understanding how to approach the community development factor, it is important that we understand what the community is defined to be. Community is defined as a group of people who are brought together by the sense of belonging between them and have specific areas of common interests (Henderson & Vercseg 2010).

Often, a community has a geographical distinction and is expected to be there for ages, besides the fact that the operation of the community brings about numerous interaction perspectives. Additionally, community has been defined as a social system that involves people with a common interest but which is complex and large such as to allow predomination of instrumental relationships and one which is very dynamic.

From the above definitions, it is clear that community is a complex social system that requires care and maximum diligence when dealing with matters that affect its affairs. On the same note, it is important to note here that development as far as the community is concerned, cannot have a specific definition but can be taken to refer to improvement.

Unfortunately, there is lack of clear cut indicators that can be used to measure community improvement thus, making community more subjective.

Community has very entangled operations which make it impossible to handle community matters in one specific way but rather calls for mixture of approaches in order to come out with conclusive solutions. Though most of the problems that face the community require practical solutions, understanding the way the community operates in general is very vital in enabling one to prepare on how to tackle the situation at hand.

Despite the differences that exist among various communities in the world, societies are intrinsically the same and to some extent similar methods can be used to solve the given problems. For example, when dealing with poverty, it is important to understand what the poor people need mostly so that one can start by offering it (Robinson & Green 2010).

The poor have more or less the same needs throughout the world but may not necessarily have the same abilities. It is therefore important if both theories of community development and the practical solutions are interacted in attempting to solve the prevailing problems.

Just as community development theory outlines, the community issues cannot be solved in isolation and this has been reiterated even by the advocates for practical solutions. The political, economical or social aspect of the community cannot be improved in isolation as they are all entangled and an attempt to tackle one brings the other aspect in view (Homan 2011).

As such there is no one very important aspect than the other hence an understanding of how the community works, which is provided by theory, is instrumental in community development.

Though community development does not restrict per se on the specific procedure to be followed, community development theory does give a framework of what is expected to be done at any given stage and in case of in outcomes. And both the theory and practical must be applied when carrying out any activities while putting the whole community in mind.

It is possible as it has happened in various communities for technological advancements to meet cultural opposition because culture was not understood before the introduction of the advancements though theory could have systematically outlined what procedure to be followed.

Wrongly understanding the needs of society, has also led to rather pronounced opposition to development projects in communities because sometimes what is given priority is not what the members of the community give importance (Morin 2011).

Though it is assumed that some groups in the community especially the poor will be less concerned with the political system but practical cases have proved the idea wrong where politics has manifested itself as important as any other component of community. In these instances, therefore, community development cannot be achieved without involving the knowledge of political theory.

Integrated Focus

In order to effective achieve the targets of community development, the then two sides of the argument need to be connected and be applied together in solving the community problems. People of the community need to be understood and they are generally more concerned with the average improvement of their lives as opposed to only one aspect performing well, while others are lagging behind.

On top of that, community development has proofed that community is made up of entangled issues, then a disjointed approach to the problem will be impractical (Robinson & Green 2010).

Theory gives the understanding of the mechanisms that are available in the society which must be understood before any step is taken, while at the same time freedom is given for the professional to include feasible ways, according to their judgment, to solve the practical issue.

Community people are also involved at the grass-root levels so that they can suggest methods that they think can work for their situation. Community development has therefore to be all-encompassing to enhance the understanding of the major concerns of the community, the most feasible ways of solving the problem and other factors that should be addressed in order to achieve sustainable improvement (Phillips & Pittman).

In some instances, a specific framework is a must for progression to occur for the whole process requires a specific framework for example, production after all requirements have been met while others require a more open approach.

Conclusion

Community development is a wholesome approach to community problems and cannot be inclined to one line of argument. Due to the interdependency of community development system, borrowing from other disciplines is inevitable preempting the reason why community development cannot have just a single approach.

Therefore, community development should be open-ended to allow for freedom of participatory as well as involving the doctrines of human society.

References

Achatz, A 2011, Community Development: A People Centered Initiative to Achieve Sustainability, GRIN Verlag, Munchen.

Craig, G & Popple, K 2008, Community Development in Theory and Practice: An International Reader, Spokesman books, Nottingham.

Henderson, P & Vercseg, I 2010, Community Development and Civil Society: Making Connections in the European Context, The Policy Press, Bristol.

Homan, SM 2011, Promoting Community Change: Making it Happen in the Real World, Cengage Learning, Stanford.

Hughes, C 2009, Dependent Communities: Aid and Politics in Cambodia and East Timor, SEAP Publications, New York.

Ledwith, M 2011, Community Development: A Critical Approach, The Policy Press, Bristol.

Midgley, J & Conley, A 2010, Social Work and Social Development: Theory and Skills for Developmental Social Work, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Morin, JP 2011, Community Ecology, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken.

Phillips, R & Pittman, HR 2009, An Introduction to Community Development, Taylor & Francis, New York.

Robinson, WJ & Green, PG 2010, Introduction to Community Development: Theory, Practice and Service-learning, SAGE, Thousand Oaks.

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