Qu'est-ce que le développement communautaire
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Qu'est-ce que le développement communautaire

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Introduction to Community Development


What is Community Development

What is Community Development?
Community work or community development involves an analysis of social and economic situations and collective action for change based on that analysis. It is centred on a series of principles that seek to go beyond consultation to participation and beyond capacity building to consciousness raising and empowerment. It recognises the changing and often hidden nature of the structural inequalities based on ‘race’, class, gender and disability to name but a few. It seeks to be transformative rather than conforming and empowering rather than controlling.
Community work is not a process that takes place in a short timeframe as it seeks to address deeply rooted inequalities and forms of disadvantage. It is recognised that it takes varying lengths of time to achieve tangible results depending on the community involved. Although various definitions of community development/community work are used by different organisations and groups, definitions generally have a number of common elements.

What is Community Development?


The following areas of knowledge are core requirements for community work:
• The principles and processes of community work
• Governance and management
• Change management and organisational analysis
• Group work theory, purpose and processes
• Social policies and social theories, particularly those focused on:
• poverty and social inclusion
• gender, equality and integration
• racism and sectarianism
• Social and environmental sustainability
• Public administration - including the social, political, legal and economic systems, background and context for community work
• An understanding and analysis of modern society - at local, national and global level
• Social sciences and research methodologies
What is Community Development


Acquiring or developing the following core qualities or personal attributes are essentia! to good community work:
• Integrity
• Competence
• Personal awareness
• Empathy
• Dependability
• Sensitivity and respect
• Discretion
• Openness
• Flexibility
• Commitment to change, equality and inclusion
• Political consciousness and environmental awareness
What is Community Development

Definition and Characteristics of Communities

Community Development can take place in many different settings and program contexts. In terms of their direct services to clients, health promoters often work with people to help them reach their goals, and provide programs, services and resources that meet community needs. Health promoters also learn from the community and adapt their programs, services, and policies to meet the community needs and interests. Beyond the scope of their specific mandate, health promoters may also partner with other organizations to provide resources and become engaged in community development initiatives that involve broad community collaborations. All of these activities can be viewed as community development practice.[1]

The following overview of the basic concepts, values and principles of community development will provide a general orientation that will enable you to contribute to community development within your organization and participate effectively in collaborative community development initiatives. It may also help you to identify and respond to opportunities for community development activities.

Concepts, Values and Principles

The term "community" is used extensively in almost all areas of our lives. It is used in both our common, everyday language and also by professionals, politicians and corporations. We frequently hear about "community care", "community revitalization", "community service" and many other references to community. Yet, while everyone seems to have a fairly common understanding of what is meant by "community" it eludes a clear and comprehensive definition.

The word "community" is derived from Latin and has been used in the English language since the 14th century. It refers to both the development of a social grouping and also the nature of the relationship among the members. The term is most often associated with one or more of the following characteristics:
• common people, as distinguished from those of rank or authority;
• a relatively small society
• the people of a district;
• the quality of holding something in common
• a sense of common identity and characteristics.
Concepts, Values and Principles

The concept of community was further developed in the 19th century to contrast the dynamics and relationships of residents within a local setting to that of larger and more complex industrial societies. It is related to the terms commune (French) and Gemeinshaft (German), in terms of denoting particular kind of relationships. Relationships within a community were thought to be more direct, holistic and significant than the more formal and abstract relationships with the larger society. [2]

Gemeinschaft (German pronunciation: [ɡˈmaɪnʃaft]) and Gesellschaft ([ɡəˈzɛlʃaft]) (generally translated as "community and society") are categories which were used by the German sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies in order to categorize social ties into two dichotomous sociological types which define each other.

What is Community Development

Today, three main types of communities are usually identified:

Geographic communities

Geographic communities share physical space, so that residents come into contact with each other by virtue of proximity, rather than intent. However, to be a "real" community, residents must feel a sense of belonging and hold at least some values and symbols in common.
For example, a feature of the natural landscape, such as a river, that is important to many, or a local claim to fame; such as an internationally known theatre company. In geographic communities how power is distributed has a significant impact on how the community develops.

Communities of interest

Communities of interest are sometimes referred to as "communities within communities". Members of these communities choose to associate with each on the basis of a common interest (e.g. model railway club) or shared concerns (e.g. poor air quality).
Sometimes communities are formed by self¬identified members of a reference group based on characteristics outside of their control, e.g. a disability, ethnic group, or low income, which give them a sense of common identity and shared concerns.

Virtual communities

Virtual communities are groups of people that primarily interact via communication media rather than face to face. [3] If the mechanism is a computer network, it is called an online community. Online communities are "social aggregations that emerge from the Net when people carry on those public discussions long enough, with sufficient human feeling, to form webs of personal relationships". [4]

An individual can belong to several different communities at the same time; e.g. a faith community, a business community and a neighbourhood community.
Communities can be healthy or unhealthy, with most being somewhere in the middle. In an unhealthy community there may be an environmental disaster, such as the contamination of the water supply, a high level of poverty due to a major industry closing, or entrenched conflict over a divisive community issue. The path to becoming a healthy community starts with broad community engagement, leadership, the development of a shared vision and community goals, effective planning, local government commitment and collaborative use of internal and external resources. [5]

Concepts, Values and Principles

Brief History of Community Development

Community development practice has arisen from a variety of sources and settings. Its roots can be traced to the social reform movement in Britain and North America in the latter half of the 18thcentury. CD (community development) principles were formulated and applied in third world development efforts following decolonisation.
In the 50's and 60's CD or community organisation, as it came to be called, was used in deprived or underdeveloped urban and rural settings in North America (Smith, 1979: 52). CD was a response to the perceived disintegration of society due to rapid technological change, economic dislocations, disruption in traditional family and community structures and the extension of government and commercial services into personal and family life, with negative impacts on personal effectiveness and community ties (Carey, 1979:20). CD is eclectic, integrating specialized knowledge from education, public health, economic development and politics. (Head, 1979:101)
However, it is also a discipline unto itself, with a body of theory, standards of practice and professional associations. Masters and doctoral programs in community development are usually associated with either a school of social work or rural development

History of Community Development

Community development is sometimes confused with community based programs, community research and other forms of community interventions. The most significant feature that distinguishes community development from other community work is its values and principles.

Below are a list and a brief definition of the values and principles that are typically embodied in community development programs.
Additional information on these terms is available in the glossary section of this course.

Values and Principles of Community Development



Democratic - The will of the majority must be carried out, but only after all voices are heard and considered and minority rights are protected.


Inclusive - There are many barriers to participation in society; poverty, disability, age, race and ethnicity are some other characteristics that often marginalize people. A healthy community embraces diversity and recognizes that all community members have a right to be heard and participate in processes that affect their lives.


Non¬authoritarian - Organizational structures are as flat as possible, with all participants being seen as equally important and having equal input.

Community Ownership

Community Ownership - Communities thrive when they develop their own assets, but also when they "own" their problems and issues. When communities accept that it is "their" problem, then they are more likely to work together to develop a solution, and the solution will be better than one provided solely by an external "expert".


Universality - Services are available to everyone, without requiring means or needs testing.


Upstream - The distinction between upstream vs. downstream approaches uses a river as a metaphor for the increasing impact of conditions and events which affect health over time and space, and relates to the point of intervention. For example, if there is a toxic spill upstream, it will affect the quality of the water in the river for everyone living downstream. You can focus either on dealing with the illnesses that are experienced by the downstream people (downstream approach) or you can stop the spill and prevent others from happening in the future (upstream approach).

Enhance natural capacities and networks

Enhance natural capacities and networks - There are sources of strength in every community; for example, informal networks and social support systems, or certain individuals that have particular talents or are able to help others in need. A community developer identifies these existing community assets and works with them. It is important not to duplicate existing structures and functions as that may weaken rather than strengthen the community.

Community self-determination

Community self-determination - Community members come together to discuss their concerns, assess options and arrive at their own conclusions. They may seek advice from "experts", but consider it along with other sources of information and their own experience and make their own decisions that are right for them.

Social justice and equity

Social justice and equity - This is fundamental to community development and is at least implicit in all CD work, if not an explicit goal of a CD program.

Service Integration

Service Integration - Often services provided to persons in need are fragmented, so that one service provider doesn't know what other services are available or being used, resulting in gaps, duplications and sometimes conflicting advice or treatments.

Characteristics of a Healthy Community

Tool: Characteristics of a Healthy Community

The following characteristics of a healthy community have been selected from a number of sources[6] as a starting point for identifying the qualities your community possesses that will help it to thrive. See Resources document for copy of table below.
Read the following list and determine if it applies to your community. Ask other community members for their opinions and compare them. Are there common perceptions?
Characteristics of a Healthy Community

The following table matches the traditional perspectives and approaches to dealing with social problems with the alternative community development approach.

End of Unit:
Community Development Strategies
- What is Community Development
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