Community, Community development

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Summary

A community is a social unit of any size that shares common values. Although embodied or face-to-face communities are usually small, larger or more extended communities such as a national community, international community and virtual community are also studied.

Details

Community development, often linked with community work or community planning, is often formally conducted by non-government organisations (NGOs), universities or government agencies to progress the social well-being of local, regional and, sometimes, national communities. Less formal efforts, called community building or community organizing, seek to empower individuals and groups of people by providing them with the skills they need to effect change in their own communities. These skills often assist in building political power through the formation of large social groups working for a common agenda. Community development practitioners must understand both how to work with individuals and how to affect communities' positions within the context of larger social institutions.

Formal programs conducted by universities are often used to build a knowledge base to drive curricula in sociology and community studies. The General Social Survey from the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago and the Saguaro Seminar at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University are examples of national community development in the United States. In the United Kingdom, Oxford University has led in providing extensive research in the field through its Community Development Journal, used worldwide by sociologists and community development practitioners.

At the intersection between community development and community building are a number of programs and organizations with community development tools. One example of this is the program of the Asset Based Community Development Institute of Northwestern University. The institute makes available downloadable tools to

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assess community assets and make connections between non-profit groups and other organizations that can help in community building. The Institute focuses on helping communities develop by "mobilizing neighborhood assets" — building from the inside out rather than the outside in.

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