Community emergent

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The thesis arises from fourteen years field practice as a Community Worker and a manager of Community Based services. It was driven primarily by dissatisfaction with the focus, contradictions, and ultimate inconclusiveness of the body of theory concerned with Community, and the consequent failure of the theoretical base to inform the models of practice. The thesis explores a way of viewing Community, in the conceptual sense, that would give a clearer means of identifying and understanding specific Communities in practice; and consequently inform the methods of working with them. The theoretical perspective explored is that Community is a temporary psychosociological function: It is the convergence of like-affected individuals into a social formation; in response to a perceived hostility in the prevailing broader environment and in opposition to it. That perspective inherently holds that Community is not the primary phenomenon that it is generally regarded as in the literature, nor is it the stable and pennanent social unit that it has similarly been treated. It consequently stands in the face of the majority position. In view of that the early chapters (One & Two), in the process of introducing and establishing the theory review the current state of Community studies and delve into the history of the concept to examine biases which may have entered into the discourse to bring this about; to establish the possibility that Community is something other than has been conventionally held. In the process of examining that possibility, two detailed case studies of geographically defined areas were conducted. These were Corowa and Chullora, which had circumstantially similar experiences leading to the rejection of proposed hazardous waste high temperature incinerators. Both cases had been cited publicly as action by the Community. The research investigated the hypothesis above in examining the individual cases, with a comparative analysis against the base of the Community - Society dichotomy. The cases demonstrably fell into those two social categories, rather than being two instances of the one category, Community. The comparison illustrates the validity of the theory in the generation of a Community in Corowa and in identifying the elements which prevented such a formation in Chullora. The work concludes with a consideration of the implications that such a theoretical shift would have for the professional Community Sector and suggests ways in which practice might be enhanced by its adoption.
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