Essay Paper on Introduction to Community Work
by Rhys Pugh
The term community is a spectacle that can only be viewed from an individual perspective. A community is described by many as a group of people who share the same interests and more often have the same ideologies on their cohabitation and how to survive as a unit. In view of this, several authors and scholars have tried to develop several theories and descriptions that tend to deeply look at the community as a tri-pod system in which case it is viewed as a “place, common interest and social system” (Taylor, Wilkinson and Cheers 2008). This papers focus will be on the total definition of the word community and all that is centered around the term.
In this section there are several aspects that are described by Taylor, Wilkinson and Cheers on the term community. He indicates that a community is actualized by the fact that it must function as a unit which must be able to control itself within the social norms. In view of this, the local society is viewed as the basic underlying factor whereby there cannot be a community without this. This is the first structure of a community and it is followed closely by the field in which the local society resides within. This element utterly illustrates the fact that an individual cannot form a community but can be part of the same. While at this, the third element described is that which illustrates the functional structures within the society “community structures and power networks” which is closely related to the leadership ties in which case there is a hierarchical structure linking all individuals within the society. Finally, the society must have ties which may defined in terms of their strengths. Having indicated the above aspects of the community, the full theories forming a community. In view of this, several theories have to be interpreted as to how they end up with the conclusion of a community.
Society and sociological aspects
The first point of reference will be the society in which case Taylor, Wilkinson and Cheers (2008) bring out the issue of locality and relationships in the theoretical frame work of a community. However, Taylor and his friends tend to conclude that the underlying factor of a community is the fact that individuals in the community must be in a position to interact as a unit whereby they tend to have similar vested interests as far as the geographical placement is concerned. Moreover the different perspectives of the society may be discerned using the theory of “community interaction theory” in which case the first ideology put forward is the community of place
Community of place
The idea behind this thought of a community of place puts both the interactions and the geographical distributions of individuals into practice. Taylor Wilkinson and Cheers (2008) in their analysis of the community as a place tend to dispense the fact that it should be identified using three underlying elements. The first item to identify a community as a place is the locality in which the individuals are situated, secondly Taylor and his friends consider the idea of a “local society” and eventually the processes that take place with the transformations complete the third identifying elements.
In their explanations of the three elements it is evident that there must be the direct involvement of persons or individuals within the perceived community. This means that the locality is described in terms of a “geographical location” and by this it means that individuals must be within this location otherwise it will not have a meaning to it. Taylor ,Wilkinson and Cheers (2008) tend to imply that by having different geographical locations, different communities come up as a result of the boundaries created there in by the individuals.
Secondly, the ideal local society as defined by Taylor, et al (2008) indicates that individuals must hold a stake in the activities taking place within the locality thereby concurring with the idea that there must be an individual participation within a community. This implies that with time the individuals require other services within the society and this must be complimented by the service providers in the same locality. A communal interaction ideology is thus brought into perspective. This is the last of the theoretical framework of a community as a place in which case it dwells on the element of “locally oriented social interactions” as illustrated by Taylor, Wilkinson and Cheers (2008 p 24). They suggest that there must be an activity which involves the different interactions of individuals in order to meet the second elements requirements which is to provide and receive services for their needs. In view of this, it would be wise to say that this ideology of the community as a place places much interests on the one basic factor in any community society or group – the individual. Thus it is most important that a lot of weight be thrown behind the definition.
Community as a common interest group
The common interests of a group of individuals may also make up a community as argued by Taylor, Wilkinson and Cheers (2008). In their argument they tend to fall align the group with the social interactions of the society in order to achieve a “common interest”. The main aim of the society as argued by Taylor and his friends are construed to two main factors; that of time and that of perseverance. In the first instance, Taylor , Wilkinson and Cheers are adamant that a community will always manifest itself when there are issues to be tackled on a timely basis thus indicating that the basic interests of a community are “time limited”.
In the second instance where perseverance is stressed, they lay emphasis on testing the community in different ways including their beliefs thus leading to the conclusion that a community as a common interest group must be “enduring”. In the definition of the community as a common interest group, it is evident that the individuals must have a vested interest in everything the society does otherwise it cannot proceed as a community. The basic idea in this ideology of common interests is that the society must be in a position to work together as a whole in order to achieve a common goal. This means that a community takes stock of its members and cares about the well being of its members.
Community as a social system
This is the last illustration of a community in which case the theories drawn from this ideology are skewed towards the “systems theory”. The theory is based on the fact that a system must operate as a unit otherwise there can be no progress. Moreover the social system must always incorporate other systems within its own activities in order to achieve its desired objective. The community is defined as both an introversive and extroversive society whereby the systems of interactions are seen to operate as “horizontal…. And vertical patterns” this means that the community may overstretch its mandate to look at issues not party to the society in its quest to manage itself and its people. This leads to the conclusion that a community must work as a single element.
In essence, there cannot be a clear description of a community since scholars after scholars have come up with their own theoretical frameworks on the definition. However, the basic structure of a community and its underlying functional structures still remain to be the same in which case many authors agree with the fact that a community must have the interactionist approach when it comes to the survival of the people within the community. Muirhead (2003) highlights the idea of support for the members within a society whether a geographically defined society or a locality based one. It all trickles down to the interrelationships present within the members of the community. Thus, the agendas brought about by different definitions of a community are said to contain one objective- togetherness.
Community and art
Art has always been a major player in the development of communities. However, when it comes to description of art it all comes down to the specific communitys perspective on the form of art in use by the same. For example Henry Fogel of the arts journal gives importance to orchestra as a very important form of art in the American community development. The journal indicates that orchestra within the community is not only an essential item of art to the individuals within the community but also an item “central to the life of that community”(Fogel, 2008). This means that the community is at peace while taking part in this form of art and it is used to grow individuals from all ages. Guetzkow (2002), argues that art has a very great influence in the dvelopement of a community which means that a community must be in a position to call upon different individuals to partake in any form of art. In his research, he identifies music and painting as programs which are social forms of art and they portray t he community as it is since communities are made up of individuals with who have a stake in the growth of the community. Therefore whatever is represented in the paintings reflect on the community that the individual comes from thus leading to the conclusion that art is a great influence when it comes to the definition of a community as a congregation of individuals who share a common interest.
In conclusion, being human beings, a community is expected to face challenges as it strives to achieve the interactions within the members. This is said to be a major factor in bringing people together for as a negative event may be seen as a stepping stone in bringing out the true colors of a community as opposed to the positive feedbacks. Muirhead 2003 and Taylor Wilkinson and Cheers (2008) bring out this aspect when it comes to the issue of capacity building within the society. They argue that a lot of factors have to be considered and not just take for granted the decisions and the reservations made on behalf of the community members by others. They argue that caution must be taken to ensure that no individual is harmed as the implementation of laid down policies takes place. Finally art should be taken as a measure to ensure that the community values are upheld. The definition of a community is however an individual affair and in this case it should be viewed as a coming together of people with similar interest and who come from the same geographical location despite the distance apart from the individual community members.
Muirhead, T. (2002) Weaving Tapestries: a handbook for building communities. Perth, Western Australia: Local Government Community Services Association (WA)
Taylor, J., Wilkinson, D., and Cheers, B. (2008) Working with communities in Health and Human Services. Sydney: Oxford University Press
Guetzkow, J. (2002) An introduction to the literature on arts impact studies How the Arts Impact Communities: An introduction to the literature on arts impact studies. Working paper series 20. Retrieved on January 05, 2012from http://www.princeton.edu/~artspol/workpap/WP20%20-%20Guetzkow.pdf
Fogel H . Community Engagement: The Route to Civic Stature. Retrieved on January 05, 2012 from http://www.artsjournal.com/ontherecord/2008/05/community_engagement_the_route.html
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