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Security Science: Introduction to Community Work

Security Science: Introduction to Community Work

This reflective journal reflects on the learning I have done throughout the entire semester in respect to understanding community work and acknowledging a broad range of skills that are necessary to work with a range of communities. Specifically, I will touch on three modules namely understanding communities, approaches to working with communities and skills in working with communities.

Module 1: Understanding communities

In module 1, gained useful insight regarding what community work looks like. I learned that community work is a work aimed at ensuring that individuals have networks of relationship around them that can assist them address their increasing aspirations and needs (Muirhead, 2003). In other words, community work are people in community that works together toward action of their choosing or work that foster the capacity of communities to address the own aspirations and needs. I was also introduced to examples of community work. Some of these examples include a youth worker who strives with others with aim of establishing a skate part where young individuals are likely to meet and construct larger networks. Another example I was introduced to is a child health nurse who assists establish local playgroups and construct relationships among new parents with an aim of ensuring that they are less isolated in their parenting tasks. I noted that there is a difference between individual focused work and community work. Individual focused work strives to work one-on one with an individual with an aim of ensuring that he or she meet his or her own aspirations and needs (Mawson, 2008). I also learned the differences between family- focused work and community work. Specifically, I noted that family-focused work strive to assist families become places in which people are able to have their own aspirations and needs addressed or met. I was introduced to key principles for working with communities. Taylor, Wilkinson and Cheers (2008) highlighted two important principles for working with communities. These two principles include understanding the community you are working with and establishing and sustaining effective relationship and working with partnerships with individuals who are impacted by the work one is performing or doing (Muirhead, 2002).

I was also introduced to community planning and knowledge. Community planning is a process, many ways of collecting information, and getting a picture of the community. Additionally, I learned that community planning connects whole of community via all fields, identifies achievable goals and strategies, and owned by the community (Weeks, Hoatson & Dixon, 2003). Community planning adds value, change, and redirects or stimulates local or external action. Elements of community planning encompass decision making, leadership, partnerships, and community capacity. I learned that these elements are all key to ensuring that the plan eventuates and is useful as well as relevant. I also gained useful insight regarding community profile. Community profile cannot be obtained through both primary and secondary information. Secondary information can be obtained in the internet, government departments, local government, and census. I learned that primary information can be obtained by talking with locals, networks and services or through focus groups and interviews. It was interesting to learn a broad range of reasons why community profile is done. Some of these reasons include knowledge, current, relevant, evidence, objective, to identify gaps, needs, and mismatch of services to target groups, guides direction of allocation of resources, and grant applications.

Module: Approaches to Working with Communities

In module II, I was introduced to four conceptual approaches to community work. Firstly, I learned about the determinants of the approach which include feasibility, policy directive, outcomes, involvement with or to community, leading, service or a construction, why, role of community, and process. The four conceptual approaches to community work include contributions, instrumental, community empowerment, developmental. I learned that these approaches are not discrete, elements of each may and do co exist, and are in most cases used in combination. I also gained useful insight regarding contributions as one of the conceptual approaches to community work. These contributions can be in form of voluntary donations such as time, money, expertise, access to networks, local knowledge, and skills. I learned that the contributors are not expected to influence decisions. According to contribution model, resources from community including people are in most cases important or crucial in starting a project such as developing rural or countries. However, one the disadvantages of contributions model is that participation in decision making is often low. The contribution model is also known as manipulative model of social development and services on the cheap. I also gained useful insight regarding criticisms leveled against the contribution model. One of these criticisms is that the community is perceived as contributors as opposed to active participants. In other words, the community does not take part in community work. The community is only expected to contribute. Critics also contend that contribution model is not sustainable and is employed as a substitute for government responsibility.

I was also introduced to instrumental as one of the conceptual approaches to community work. According to instrumental model, the end outcomes are important such as meeting targets or outcomes (Taylor et al., 2008). The community is involved as a result of prescribed strategy. I also learned that under the instrumental model, professionals the power and determine processes. The instrumental model is also referred to as top down approach. I also introduced to a broad range of criticism leveled against instrumental model. One of these criticisms is that it is difficult to change policy. Additionally, programs are pre-determined with outcomes and strategies determined and as such communities cannot meet requirements. The other criticism leveled against the instrumental model is that there is no power to transfer to community.

I also gained useful insight regarding the empowerment model as one of the four conceptual approaches to community work. The empowerment model places emphasis on process of participation as a process of change and then outcomes. I learned that the empowerment model involves personal development, consciousness raising and social action. I also introduced to criticisms leveled against empowerment model. One of the criticisms is that it may empower a group at the expense of another. Moreover, empowerment model must be managed with diplomacy.

I was also introduced to developmental model as one of the four conceptual approaches to community work. Under the developmental framework, I learned that local people with collective community processes are involved in a project in which they can exert influence such as decision making. The developmental model benefits both the individual and community and focuses on the quality of life of whole community. I also learned that the developmental model is also known as bottom up approach. Under the developmental model, processes of participation and achievement of tasks are valued and local objectives are met. I also introduced to elements of community involvement. These elements encompass social justice, people to control their own destinies as individuals, groups, and communities, collective actions shows intrinsic importance, open and democratic, and true partnerships. I also gained useful insight regarding criticisms leveled against community involvement concept. Some of these criticisms encompass current environment has specific targets, pressure by government departments, mismatch of community and government priorities, fear of hearing from the community, government may be unable to deliver, and it is ideological as opposed to about reality

It was interesting to learn about practice framework under community work. Practice framework provides advice regarding how to develop social care programs and initiative via community work. I learned that not one framework that meets all need and all situations and may need mix and match framework. I was introduced to five practice framework. They encompass interactional community development, participative development, building capable communities, building collective capacity, and asset-based community development. I learned that interactional development is grounded in developmental conceptual approach, underpinned by democratic, open, and bottom up partnerships, local people have an active role, and also underpinned by social justice (Kretzmann, 1993). Moreover, I recognized that interactional development uses community interaction theory and places much emphasis in the relationships and interactions of the individual and community groups. I learned that this social interaction brings individuals together to share local concerns and enhances the flow of resources and information. It was interesting to learn that under interactional development, people work together and across sectors and that the end point of community work is for the good of the community. I learned that tasks associated with community work include awareness of the issues, effective organization, decision making, and resource mobilization with partnerships, relationships, and people. The strengths of interactional development encompass connects with community interaction theory, builds upon interaction across community, supports problem solving , improves identity, useful when there are divisions in community, and supportive of developmental and empowerment approach.

Module III: Skills in Working with Communities

The semester introduced to community leadership. I learned that community leadership is different from the usual cause and effect models such as Chief Executive Officer, Managing Director, and Director General. It was interesting to learn that community leadership is about change and enhancing outcomes for communities. Key elements of community leadership include need to be courageous and humble, people interact, have opinions and a say, disagreements and conflicts, partnership formed, duration in role varies, not sure of value or impact, and status of a leader unknown. I was also introduced to a broad range of reasons why there is need for a community leader. These reasons include point of reference, have influence, may have local or expert knowledge, are respected, have history, and connect and network. I also learned about relational leadership. Specifically, under relational leadership, I learned that leader is influenced from many directions, may be more than one leader, followers are active, intention is to create change but not always attained and that changes reflect their mutual purpose.

I was also introduced to elements of relational leadership. These elements include the leadership relationship is based in multi-directional influence, followers are active in the relationship and there may be more than one leader. The other elements are that leaders and their constituents intend, but do not necessarily produce real changes and that changes that the leaders and their collaborators intend reflect their mutual purposes. I also gained useful insight regarding influence relationships. In particular, I learned that influence relationships rely on relationship and good will between leaders and community members, there is no coercion, likely to have good communication skills, and some have more ability more ability than others to put forward their views and to understand, and that relational leader is aware and practice inclusivity. It was also interesting to learn about shared leadership. Specifically, I learned that under shared leadership anybody can be involved, not only has those with formal positions, dependent upon the relationships within the community, usually an active member with strong networks, visioned for the community and strong external links. Moreover, I learned about challenges of community leadership. Some of these challenges encompass leadership spread, often self selected commitment to volunteer work, belief in community service, sustainable leadership, limited population, people overcommitted, involve personal cost, and mentors, succession planning. It was interesting to gain useful insight regarding community leadership skills. In particular, I learned that community leadership skills are considered to be generic, applicable to all kinds of community development; the leader must be concerned about people not the tasks. I was also introduced to key aspects of community leadership. These key aspects include identifying the common purpose, bringing people together who are diverse in culture, interest, place, sector, leadership spread, capturing the energy and enthusiasm, sustainability, key on being connected and focus not on the activities but people.


Kretzmann, J. (1993). Introduction in building communities from the inside out: a path toward

finding and mobilizing a community’s assets. (p.1-18). Evanston, III: Centre for Urban Affairs and Policy Research, Northwestern University.

Mawson, A. (2008). The social entrepreneurship: Making communities work: London: Atlantic

Muirhead, T. (2002). Weaving tapestries: a handbook for building communities. Mt. Hawthorn:

Local Government Community Services Association (WA)

Muirhead, T. (2003). Elements of community building. Unpublished paper from the local

government and community services association National Conference, 29th July 2003

Taylor, J., Wilkinson, D., & Cheers, B. (2008). Working with communities in health and human

services. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Weeks, W., Hoatson, L., Dixon, J. (2003). Community practices in Australia. Frenchs Forrest:

Pearson Education