Format: This assignment includes the analysis of community work in action. You may choose a project that you have personal involvement with, or a community development project with a web presence (i.e. communities attending to local or global issues).
Please ensure you use a professional report format in this assessment.
Length: 2000 words
Curriculum Mode: Report
Select an example of community work in action and examine the fundamental values and philosophies that inform the work. In your report ensure you answer the following questions:
Please ensure you use a professional report format in this assessment.
The community work project with which I personally associate is the company called ‘Community Works’ that collaborates with the other organizations for promoting socio-economic development. The work of this organization involves developing strategies, designing, implementing, evaluating, and learning from the community work projects. It also works for managing conflicts and facilitating communication (Community Works| Building Stronger Community, 2020).
The areas on which the community project primarily focuses include mental health, conflict resolution, and peacebuilding among the others. Some of the community work projects that organization is engaged with includes- ‘Ground Breaking Work on Early Childhood Development- Colombia’, ‘Connected; Support for better quality, access and relevance of Education- America’, ‘Scaling Strategy for Green Economy in Canada’, ‘Engaging with Workplace Conflict’, ‘Community Mental Health Services for Flood-Affected Communities’ and ‘Stronger Communities for Children’ among the others (Community Works| Building Stronger Community, 2020).
The community work project in which I was involved in the ‘Connected Support for better quality, access, and relevance of education’. Therefore the community work in action was ensuring better quality and access to education. This community work project was done in collaboration with the foundation called ‘ConnectED’ that was earlier known as the ‘Rachel and Jackie Foundation’. This project was held in the rural areas of Guatemala in the year 2019 and it is the community for which the community project work was proposed (ConnectED; support for better quality, access, and relevance of education in Central America, 2020). The strength of this community work project was that it was a community-based model that was implemented through the help of the local education leaders or the fellows. A possible limitation of this project was it was highly focussed on the research model and strategic planning that the actual practical implications of ensuring quality education at the grassroots were lagging. However, this community work project was a great learning experience.
The theory of community work is as important as the practice because the ‘practice of community development is not only restricted to the technical procedures but is also related to specific values and theoretical understanding about the functioning of the society and therefore community development and its work rely on the various underlying theories’ (Kenny, 2016). Therefore, it becomes essential for the people involved in the community development work to be aware of the theoretical perspective and concepts (Kenny, 2016). As Marx stated; “To discuss practice in isolation is to divorce from its contexts and to minimize its links to the theory”, because only when we try to change the society is when we begin to understand it.
Community development work is therefore more than just ‘doing’ as it requires constant reflection on the practice through gaining a better understanding of the community and the social change (Debailleul et al., 2018). Furthermore; it involves not just the evaluation of theory in terms of practice but also evaluates the social work practice in terms of theoretical understanding. Both Marx and Engels associated social relations with production and capitalism as the existence of humans is dependent upon the act of production and how it gets produced (Scatamburlo et al., 2018).
The following table summarizes the key elements in the community development work, in which the first element is the information and before going to the stage of transformation or evaluation, it is necessary to have information like theories or concept by answering the question ‘what do we know?’ before ‘what changes are required?’. This includes developing an understanding of how society works for understanding how things can be done differently (Kenny, 2016).
Therefore, theories are an essential part of the community social work because it helps in focussing on the social issues prevailing in the society through providing a developed understanding about power dynamics and the social relations that governs the structuring of the diverse group and facilitate achievement of structural change through social justice (Pradeep and Sathyamurthi, 2017).
According to the Australian Community Workers Association (ACWA), the codes of ethics adopted by a practitioner acts as a foundation for the community work and benchmark for the social practitioners. Therefore, a community worker must acknowledge and respect every individual irrespective of its race, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, or any other aspect (Australian Community Workers Ethics and Good Practice Guide, 2017).
The following figure summarizes the indicators of ethical practices and principles that should be complied with by the community work practitioner (Australian Community Workers Ethics and Good Practice Guide, 2017).
The community work is based on the underlying ethics, attitudes, and philosophies as these help in shaping the value of the community work. Community development is possible through the sustenance of aspects like democracy, participation, self-determination, social justice, and personal values. The underlying philosophies help in resolving the moral and ethical dilemmas such as the conflicts with the communities, employers, funding bodies, or due issues specific to laws and regulations. Therefore the principles of openness, honesty, integrity, anti-oppressive practices, and non-violence must underpin the ethical decisions that taken with respect to the community development work (Ife, 2013).
The rules of ethics as employed by the community practitioners should be beyond traditional ethics and focus on the contemporary ethical foundation of community practice. Some of the key aspects related to ethics and philosophies in terms of social work involve ‘inclusion, participation, empowerment, diversity, advocacy, and social justice’ (Racher, 2007). Among these, collaboration among the organization, institutions, society, and the communities can further help in the facilitation of ethical attitude acting as the key aspect that underpins the community theory and practice (Racher, 2007).
According to Ife (2013), there are two foundations of community development; first is the ecological perspective and second the perspective of social justice. This represents two forms of thinking, one which thinks of the environment is the medium or the way of ensuring a sustainable future and second that focuses on the social justice and human rights for moving towards an equitable society. The community work with which I was involved focuses on the second foundation of the community development and therefore works of ensuring quality access to education as a means to ensure social justice and guaranteeing basic human rights. Power and empowerment are the basic tenants of ensuring social justice in terms of community work (Ife, 2013). Empowerment means giving the power into their hands and education is an important tool for facilitation of empowerment or feel empowered due to gaining knowledge. This is what the ‘ConnectED’ and ‘Community Works’ attempts to achieve through the provision of quality access to Education in Guatemala (ConnectED; support for better quality, access, and relevance of education in Central America, 2020).
The changes brought to communities are dependent upon the roles adopted for the community work which can be classified into four types according to Ife (2013); facilitative, educational, technical, or representational role. The following figure gives an overview of the four types of community work roles and skills that are required from bringing changes for a particular role (Ife, 2013).
The facilitation for bringing changes to the community involves stimulation and support of the community development so that the social workers act as the catalyst for action and contributes to the facilitation of the process. The facilitative role is mostly adopted in roles related to supporting, building consensus, mediation, negotiation, or utilization of skills and resources (Ife, 2013). The educational role involves the worker to be active in providing their knowledge and experience. The social worker engaged in the educational role assists the community in determining the learning agenda and the role includes consciousness-raising, informing, confronting, and training. The technical community work role on the other hand involves empowering the community through research, computer, verbal, or written control (Ife, 2013).
The changes were facilitated in the present case study that is in the community work project through mediation, negotiation, support, and building consensus through dealing with the conflicting interests within the community in terms of access to education and providing awareness about the structural issues through the social justice approach. Facilitation for building consensus towards a common goal was done through the group facilitation that is through the consciousness-raising groups and the training groups.
Since the purpose of the community work in collaboration of ‘ConnectED’ and ‘Community Works’ was focussed on ensuring better quality and access to education, hence the educational community work role was the main domain that was employed in this particular community work project. The aspect of consciousness-raising among the community member related to the importance of education and access to quality education as a tool for bringing transformation in their existing socio-economic condition was a major factor in this particular community work. This was the most difficult part as the community members of Guatemala were not confident about education as the right choice for bringing transformation. This is because the prevailing socio-economic condition of the community restricts their choices due to income and other factors which make them believe that survival through any means is a priority rather than education. Another crucial tool that was used facilitating change in terms of education was through the provision of training.
The outcomes of the community work action directed to achieve educational access can be summarized as below (ConnectED; support for better quality, access, and relevance of education in Central America, 2020):
Further, this community action plan worked in achieving access to quality education through skills such as consciousness-raising, informing, training through facilitative role related to supporting, building consensus, mediation, negotiation, or utilization of skills and resources (Ife, 2013).
‘Community Works’ collaboration with ‘ConnectED’ helped in the broadening the objective for designing the communication material, preparing the material for training and workshops in Guatemala using the effective strategies for fundraising the educational models and meeting the objectives of the training for facilitative educational change in terms of quality access (ConnectED; support for better quality, access, and relevance of education in Central America, 2020).
‘Community Work’ or ‘Community Development’ is not an easy task because the community includes diverse groups and differences in the ideologies as a result of which it also involves politics and power as emphasized by Meade et al. (2016). This can be a huge challenge for community development because it becomes difficult to establish solidarity and promote dialogue among the community members and also between the community workers and the community. Therefore, in my opinion, it becomes necessary to rethink the approach adopted for community development and not just one single time but to always re-think the approach in multiple contexts because the same approach cannot prove to be effective in different contexts and situations.
The role of a community worker should not only be based on the theoretical understanding of the ethical code of conduct but should also be extended to include facets like the context in which the community worker is operating as well as the change that the worker desires to bring. Often the social activities aimed at helping the communities can be used for personal merits or meeting the personal objectives, which should not be the case and therefore while engaging in a community development work it is essential to take into consideration the perspective of the community we wish to transform and how will the community benefit from the transformation.
Acwa.org.au. 2017. Australian Community Workers Ethics And Good Practice Guide. [online] Available at: http://www.acwa.org.au/resources/ACWA-Ethics-and-good-practice-guide.pdf [Accessed 10 July 2020].
Community Works. 2020. Community Works| Building a Stronger Community. [online] Available at: https://communityworks.com.au/ [Accessed 10 July 2020].
Community Works. 2020. Connected; Support For Better Quality, Access, And Relevance Of Education In Central America. [online] Available at: https://communityworks.com.au/project/connected-support-for-better-quality-access-and-relevance-of-education-in-central-america/ [Accessed 10 July 2020].
Debailleul, C., Bichler, S., and Nitzan, J., 2018. Theory and Praxis, Theory and Practice, Practical Theory. Review of Capital as Power, 1(3), pp.40-57. Available at: https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/176895/1/20180400_dbn_theory_and_praxis_recasp.pdf [Accessed 10 July 2020].
Ife, J., 2013. Community development in an uncertain world. Cambridge University Press.
Kenny, S., and Connors, P., 2016. Developing Communities for the Future 5ed. Cengage AU.
Meade, R., and Shaw, M. eds., 2016. Politics, power, and community development. Policy Press.
Pradeep, K.P., and Sathyamurthi, K., 2017. Community social work: A theoretical perspective. International Journal of Research in Social Sciences, 7(10), pp.223-231. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Sathyamurthi_Karibeeran2/publication/320263587_Community_Social_Work_A_Theoretical_Perspective/links/59d84e410f7e9b12b36132e3/Community-Social-Work-A-Theoretical-Perspective.pdf [Accessed 10 July 2020].
Racher, F.E., 2007. The evolution of ethics for community practice. Journal of Community Health Nursing, 24(1), pp.65-76. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Frances_Racher/publication/6538924_The_Evolution_of_Ethics_for_Community_Practice/links/5741347708aea45ee847c792/The-Evolution-of-Ethics-for-Community-Practice.pdf[Accessed 10 July 2020].
Scatamburlo-D’Annibale, V., Brown, B.A., and McLaren, P., 2018. Marx and the Philosophy of Praxis. In International Handbook of Philosophy of Education (pp. 549-567). Springer, Cham. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325676992_Marx_and_the_Philosophy_of_Praxis [Accessed 10 July 2020].
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