Improving Communities through Community Development Theory

What Is Community Development Theory?

Community development theory involves working with the people in a particular community to improve various aspects of it. This can include public spaces like parks, libraries and government buildings as well as private institutions such as hospitals and schools.

Theoretical approaches can be beneficial in community development work. However, they can also limit progress.

Child Development

Community development theory often looks at the entire population, including children. Those who advocate for this theory believe that all parts of the community are interconnected and that any effort to improve one part of the population must also affect the other areas.

A common example of this is to examine a public school system. Economists may look at the ways a community spends taxes on schools and how these investments affect the future of the community.

Taking into account the different aspects of human beings, community development theory lays out the procedure to be followed in order to achieve practical solutions to the problems a community is facing. This is not to say that the theories do not have some shortcomings, but they serve as a guideline for those who are trying to help a community. Outside analysis is also often a part of community development theory, with government agencies and academic studies publishing periodic reports on the economics of local communities across the country or world.

Outside Analysis

Community development theory studies the overall economic prosperity of a city or municipality. This includes things like current income levels for residents, tax rates and inflation. In addition, it may look at the number of businesses needed to support a town or city and how well they are doing economically.

Many people who study community development work closely with government agencies or academic organizations to develop economic policies that help a city grow. They may also study the impact of economic policies on a national scale.

These people may also study other social theories to see how to make a community better. For example, they might study the idea of empowering a community and giving them more power in a democratic society. They may also study social justice, equality and sustainable development.

Economic Policy

A general economic policy concerns itself with the financial health of a community. This could include looking at tax burdens or inflation and ensuring that local businesses are successful. It could also examine how a city uses its public spaces such as parks and schools or how it manages its public services such as firehouses and police departments.

Community development theory may also look at the ability of residents to improve their quality of life. This can include the ability to access educational and employment opportunities and the availability of housing. It can also include examining the need for community centers and other public places to ensure they are well-used by all citizens. Theorists of this type also encourage the sharing of technical expertise by outsiders to help communities develop their own skills. Opponents of the theoretical approach claim that it is unrealistic and sets targets which can never be achieved. They say that it is better to have a practical model that enables community development workers to deal with the specific problems as they come up rather than a rigid set of steps which cannot be adjusted to each new situation.

Community Organization

People with different backgrounds need to understand each other in order for community development to work. Business owners, for example, need to be aware that the people who use their facilities may come from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds. This awareness is necessary to ensure that the businesses they run are meeting the needs and expectations of all their customers.

For instance, the way that a business treats its employees and customers differs depending on their economic status. A business that caters to the upper classes may have a higher price point and offer luxury goods, while a lower-class-oriented store might serve basic needs at affordable prices.

In addition, the social theory of community development focuses on the political system and how it influences a local area. Marginalized groups, for example, use the drama of protest and related conflict to display realities that are not widely regarded as important by those in power. This can cause the implementation of community development efforts to have a variety of different results.

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