Community Organization in Social Work

Community Organization in Social Work


M.G. Ross has given a widely accepted definition of community organization, it suggests that ‘Community organisation is a process by which a community identifies its needs or objectives, develops the confidence and will to work for these needs or objectives, finds the resources (internal and/or external) to deal with these needs or objectives takes action in respect them, and in doing so extends and develops cooperative and collaborative attitudes and practices in the community.’

Basically it is a process in which a community organizer professionally develops the community to identify its problems and develops confidence among them to solve their problems,while doing so they use community resources and programs for the community welfare.

History of community organisation
Community organisation is as old as our community life because wherever people live together, some organisation becomes necessary. But when life became more complicated, some formal organisations were set up for the community welfare. Historically Elizabethan poor law in England was one of the first efforts to provide services for the needy. But charity organisation societies were forerunners of modern community organisation planning. They were first organised in London in 1869 to eliminate discriminate alms giving by the relief agencies at that time. In America the first charity organisation society was organised in Buffalo in 1877. Later on it spread to the other cities of USA. The charity organisation movement is an influential factor for emergence of community organisation.

Community organisation is essentially concerned to bring social change in the community through critically analyzing their social conditions and developing relations with outside world/resources for their development.
It has three main objectives- (1)To involve the people democratically in thinking deciding, planning and playing an active part in the development and operation of services that affect their daily lives.
(2)Value for personal fulfillment of belonging to a community.
(3)Concerned with the need in community planning to think of actual people in relation to other people and meeting their needs as persons, instead off, on a series of separate needs and problems.

While studying the concept of community organization Ross (1955) identified three approaches and described this method very well.
(1) The ‘specific content’ approach, where by a worker or an agency or organisation identifies problem and launches a program to meet them
(2) The ‘general content’ approach whereby a group, association or council, such state social welfare board, attempts a coordinated and orderly development of service in a particular area.
(3) The ‘process approach’ where the objective is not the content i.e. facilities or services of some kind.

Models of Community Organization
Rothman (1979) suggested three models for community organization i.e. locality development model, social planning model and social action model.

  • The locality development model refers to the popular notion of community organization practice whereby a worker or an agency attempts to develop various services or program to meet the need of target population in a defined area. This may also include the coordination of various agencies providing services in the area and the generation of new program and services as well.
  • The social planning model refers to community work where a worker or an agency undertakes an exercise evaluating the welfare needs and existing services in a town, village or municipal area or may be in a state and suggest a possible blueprint for more efficient delivery of social services. Generally such attempts are confined to a particular field such as housing, education, health, child care or women’s development.
  • The social action model refers to community work which is issue oriented and attempts to generate a social movement. The worker or agency attempts to mobilize public opinion on a particular issue by educating people. The issue may range reorganizing relief during natural calamity, or combating problems like dowry or wife battering to a more radical change in society or in social institution.

Principles of Community Organisation

M.G. Ross in his book ‘community organisation theory, principles and practice’ has identified the
following principles of community organisation.

  • Discontent with existing conditions in the community must initiate and/or nourish the development of the association.
  • Discontent must be focused and channeled into organiation, planning and action in respect to specific problems.
  • The discontent which initiates or sustains community organisation must be widely shared in the community
  • The organisation must involve leaders (both formal and informal) identified with and accepted by major subgroups in the community.
  • The organisation must have goals and methods of procedure of high acceptability.
  • The program of organisation should include some activities with emotional content.
  • The organisation should seek to utilize the manifest and latent good will which exists in the community.
  • The organisation must develop active and effective lines of communication both within the organization and between the organization and the community.
  • The organization should seek to support and strengthen the groups which it brings together in cooperative work.
  • The organization should be flexible in its organizational procedures without disrupting its regular decision making routines.
  • The organization should develop a pace for its work relative to existing conditions in the community.
  • The organization should seek to develop effective leaders.
  • The organization must develop strength, stability and prestige in the community.

Steps in Community Organisation

Lindeman has suggested ten steps in community organisation

  • Some person, either within or without the community, expresses the need which is later represented by the definite project.
  • A leader, within some institution or group within community convinces the group about the reality of me need.
  • The interested group attempts to project the consciousness of need upon the leadership of community; the consciousness of need becomes more general.
  • Some influential assistance is enlisted in an attempt to arrive at quick means of meeting the needs.
  • Other means of meeting the need are presented.
  • Various groups provide their support to one or the other of the various solutions presented.
  • It appears to be increasingly customary to pause at this point and to investigate of the project with an expert assistance.
  • A public mass meeting is held at which the project is presented and the groups with most influence attempts to secure adoption of their plans.