8 Principles of Community Organization

 Content .

  1. Introduction
  2. Meaning and Definition
  3. 8 Principles of Community Organization
  4. The Principle of Specific Objectives
  5. The Principle of Planning
  6. The Principle of People’s Participation
  7. The Principle of Inter-Group Approach
  8. The Principle of Democratic Functioning
  9. The Principle of Flexible Organization
  10. The Principle of Optimum Utilizations of Indigenous Resources
  11. The Principle of Cultural Orientation 

Introduction

To study and to be able to engage in communityorganization practice it is necessary to have a clear definition. There are several definitions available in literature, which have been put forth at different times and in differing context. The common element in most of them is matching resources to needs. We will discuss here two most widely accepted definitions of community organization.

The principles of community practice play a significant role in community work. They are derived from the value base and ethical framework involved in community work which every community worker must follow while engaging in any community practice-related task. This module seeks to explain to the student how indispensable these principles are to community practice at community level.

Meaning and Definition 

Murray G. Ross (1967) 
Defines community organization as a “process by which a community identifies its needs or objectives, gives priority to them, develops confidence and will to work at them, finds resources (internal and external) to deal with them, and in doing so, extends and develops cooperative and collaborative attitudes and practices in the community”.

Community,” in the sense in which it is used here, refers to two major groupings of people. Firstly it may be all the people in a specific geographic area a village, a town, a city, a neighborhood, or a district in a city. 

8 Principles of Community Organization

  1. The Principle of Specific Objectives
  2. The Principle of Planning
  3. The Principle of People’s Participation
  4. The Principle of Inter-Group Approach
  5. The Principle of Democratic Functioning
  6. The Principle of Flexible Organization
  7. The Principle of Optimum Utilizations of Indigenous Resources
  8. The Principle of Cultural Orientation 

The principles of community practice act as guides to practice because they emanate from acceptance of certain ethical values. Knowledge of the principles provide a professional thrust to the community worker. Principles provide moral and ethical legitimacy for field practice while empowering people, communities and workers. Application of values and principles, therefore, lies at the core of community practice.

1) The Principle of Specific Objectives

The community consists of different client groups, all of whom may have differential needs, thus necessitating differential programmes. For example, in the Indian context, a separate forum for women is required due to cultural constraints. The principle of specific objectives prescribes the practice of consciously formulating specific objectives of working with different client groups on the one hand, and formulating specific community oriented objectives, on the other.

2) The Principle of Planning

This implies developing a blue print for the entire work to be undertaken in terms of programmes, financial/resource requirements, personnel requirements, space etc. Planning also helps to anticipate problems one is likely to face in implementing the programme and devising contingency plans for meeting them. For example, a community worker may disregard the cultural milieu of the community and try to encourage girls to attend a coeducational school. This is an example of lack of planning, leading to failure of the programme and even community displeasure.

3) The Principle of People’s Participation

People’s participation is the most vital component of any community cooperative venture. Ambitious plans of community development in the Indian context have failed partly due to lack of effective participation by people. Identification of the ‘felt needs’ of people, critical examination of the project feasibility, development of a realistic strategy to involve people, assumption of a pace of work which is in consonance with community’s adjustment and capacity, adherence to community’s right to self determination and giving equal importance to all groups/factions are some ways to elicit people’s participation.

4) The Principle of Inter-Group Approach

Most communities consist of people of diverse backgrounds, occupations, castes, religions and political affiliations. There is what can be described as “communities within communities” and “overlapping communities”. The community worker is, therefore, expected to first identify the smaller groups with whom he can make a beginning and later develop inter-group linkages for achieving targets which require involvement of people on a larger scale.

5) The Principle of Democratic Functioning

This principle is based on the belief that there is a tendency among common people to remain passive and allow others to take decisions for them. In this process, a few people tend to dominate and take control of all resources and benefits. Therefore, the community worker has a primary obligation to educate people and to create appropriate mechanisms to facilitate a wider participation and to curb the tendency of domination by a privileged minority. The principle of rotating leadership is also a step in the same direction. 

6) The Principle of Flexible Organization

People in general are not used to conforming to rules and set procedures. Thus, it is better if community workers opt for a more flexible approach to organization to accommodate people with varied abilities to function effectively. Informal arrangements work better in the initial phase. Rules and procedures are very important, but they should be made to facilitate rather than hinder participation. Formation of various committees may also prove more helpful as more people can thereby obtain the valuable experience of taking the lead in participating and decision making.

7) The Principle of Optimum Utilization of Indigenous Resources

Countries of the developing world are generally short of resources. Often, the governments are unable to provide adequate basic services like housing, drinking water, sanitation, health, etc. Thus, the community worker must largely depend on the mobilization of resources from various sources, including the government. 

8) The Principle of Cultural Orientation 

It becomes important for the community worker to be oriented to the cultural milieu of the community and show respect to its customs, traditions, values etc. This will enable her/him to gain the acceptance and respect of the community. However, this does not imply that the worker should support such customs which may harm the people or are detrimental to them (e.g. belief in supernatural powers, early marriage, sati etc.). In such cases, a gradual effort to change community’s perception and practices is called for. 

Reference 

  1. Gangrade, K.D. (1971) “Community Organisation in India, Popular Prakashan, Bombay
  2. Harper E.B. and Dunham Arthur (1959), “Community Organisation in Action” Association Press, New York
  3. Ross, M.G. (1967), “Community Organisation”, Harper and Row, New York.

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