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'Community Development': Behind the Rhetoric: How it is perceived and practiced?

Hudson, Kim Leanne (2001) 'Community Development': Behind the Rhetoric: How it is perceived and practiced? Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Increasingly state and local governments in Western Australia are identifying 'community development' as a way of involving community members in addressing areas of community need and social issues. Definitions of community development are varied and are most often presented as a set of values or processes used to enhance community participation and to promote soda/ change. Commonly the principles of self-help, resource access and equity, democratic participation and community mobilisation are used to provide an understanding of what is community development Within these understandings common practices or tools of community development are identified as ways to achieve these principles or outcomes, some of which include resource information, education, empowerment, facilitation and negotiation.

The aim of this thesis is to explore the ways in which 'community development' is understood and practiced by community development workers. It is my argument that while there are some core and recognisable traits found within these understandings, these combine with a number of variables specific and relevant to a particular situation and thus form a 'situated' community development 'discourse’. These variables are loosely formed 'filters' that surround the community development practitioner, the employing organisation, and the factors found in broader social political and economic environment these filters represent a complex interaction that converge and subsequently 'load' how community development is understood and practiced within a particular context.

This thesis will explore how 'community development' is constructed through academic, government, and industry literature. It will examine it's historical application and emergence in Australia as a form of community service work, and explore it as a response to the shifting social political and economic environment as its context Here the thesis sets out the processes for exploring with community development workers, their understandings and practices of community development as employees of government organisations. The findings from two case studies, one state and one local government organisation involved in the delivery of youth services, are presented. Finally, the concluding chapter draws upon the similarities and differences found between the literature and the research findings to demonstrate the ambiguity of the term 'community development' and how it can be adapted to suit a multitude of situations, with varying ideological purposes.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Arts
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Harris, Patricia and David, David
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