Community Change

Out of the six strategies of community change, which one would likely be the most effective at empowering marginalized groups given the current political climate? Checkoway provides six strategies of community change: mass mobilization, social action, citizen participation, public advocacy, popular education, and local services development. Mass mobilization seeks to enact change by gathering individuals for given issues. Social action tries to create change by building powerful community-level organizations. Citizen participation seeks to get citizens involved in the policy planning and program implementation of government programs. Public advocacy involves representing the interests of a group in legislative, administrative, or other established institutional arenas. Popular education tries to create change by raising critical consciousness of people’s shared concerns. Local services development involves people providing their own services at the community level. Each of these strategies has its own assumptions, as well as strengths and weaknesses. It is also stated that neither of these strategies can be used for every situation, but given the current political context and climate, it is likely that some strategies would work more efficiently than other.

Wallerstein defines empowerment as “a social-action process that promotes participation of people, organizations, and communities towards the goals of increased individual and community control, political efficacy, improved quality of community life, and social justice.” Given this definition, it seems as if each of these strategies attempts to empower individuals and community in some form. Although it is also stated that empowerment is not a zero-sum gain, it can be seen as such by opponents who feel as though their privilege is in danger and that empowerment of marginalized groups is a zero sum gain. This would likely result in backlash and push back from those opponents. Whatever program or method of social would need to be able to withstand this and also be consistent with the cultural background, values, and beliefs of the target population.

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