Advantages and Disadvantages of Group Work

Siddiqui – models of community organization

This also comprises of three models which are outlined below:

1) Neighbourhood Development Model
2) System Change Model
3) Structural Change Model

1) Neighbourhood Development Model

The general assumption underlying this model is that people living in a community (neighbourhood) have the basic and inherent capacity of meeting their needs/ problems through their own initiative and resources.

The worker is expected to induce a process which will make the community realize this and consequently make efforts to achieve a greater degree of satisfaction for its members, individually and collectively. Recent changes in this model of community work lay more emphasis on the development of a self sustaining, indigenous organization within the community to take over this role from the worker or the agency as soon as possible.

Thus, the role of the worker is seen as unleashing developmental energies within the community, rather than as a provider of services. Contrary to its name, the model’s application is not limited to generating services to cater to people’s needs or improving the physical/resource infrastructure of the neighbourhood. The model can be employed to   develop new ideas too. The emphasis is to encourage thinking on the part of people themselves, to adopt progressive attitudes, rather than doing things for them.

This model of effecting change has the limitation of being confined to the micro  respective only. It does not look at linkages of the micro with the macro realities, and the impact of the latter on the community. However, inspite of this limitation, this model has continued to be practiced in India and other third world countries more commonly than the other models.

The experience of community work in India has shown that a complete withdrawal of workers/agency, even in the best planned neighbourhood model is not possible. A long term involvement of the social worker/agency due to the change process being a long drawn and gradual one is required.

The specific steps involved in this model are:
1) Identification, local and demarcation of the physical area
2) Entry into the community
3) Identifying the needs of different sections
4) Programme Planning
5) Resource Planning
6) Developing an organizational network in the community
7) Partial withdrawal within a time frame

2) System Change Model

This model presupposes the existence of various arrangements in society to cater to the basic needs of education, health, housing, employment etc. These are considered as independent systems, which in turn are comprised of sub systems. The ultimate rationale for the existence of these systems is social production and social consumption.

These systems can become dysfunctional due to a variety of factors, which in turn create strain and pressure on the system. The system may become dysfunctional either because what it is producing is not relevant for people, or because many people do not have access to what is being produced, on account of disparities between different socio – economic or spatial segments of the population.

Symptoms of this dysfunction appear within the community as a problem or a set of problems. For these to be tackled, first the system  and its sub systems need to be understood in order to arrive at a useful framework for understanding what one finds at the grass roots level. Subsequently, the worker attempts a strategy of either restructuring or modifying the system. This is termed as a “system change” approach/model to community work.

The specific tasks associated with this model are:
1) Collecting relevant facts about the specific deficiencies in the system, e.g. urban bias; disparity in access to services; lack of trained functionaries, inadequate delivery structure; lack of funding etc. leading to inadequacy.
2) Sharing of the findings within the community/ communities.
3) Selecting an appropriate strategy to influence decision making bodies or to focus attention on the issue.
4) Mobilising community and outside support to put the plan into action.
5) Developing an organization in the community and linking it to similar organizations in other communities and other agencies which can help them in demanding change.

3) Structural Change Model

This model visualizes the community as a small cell within the larger body of society. In other words, various tiny communities constitute the bigger whole i.e. the society or a nation state. The model assumes that the manner in which the relationship between different sections of the population is structured, formally (constitutional framework, law, policies etc.) or informally (customs, public opinion etc.) determines the social rights of individuals. This also determines the relationship of the state vis-à-vis the individual or a
community, as also the intra-community and inter community relations.

In the structural change model, the worker analyses the link between the macro  structuring of social relationships and the micro-reality (the latter could be the problem of unemployment in the community, or lack of access of large sections of the people to  education or health facilities or credit/other resources). The worker tries to mobilize the community to participate in the radical alteration of the macro structure so as to impact
the micro reality.

This is a very complex task for the community worker as it calls for very different kinds of skills. It also requires the worker to possess an understanding of human society in all its dimensions: economic, political, social and cultural. It also calls for an understanding of  the link between micro and macro realities. A structural change model has to work out an
alternative form of society, which will transform the existing conditions at the micro level of the community at hand.

In other words, it would translate into the adoption of an alternative political ideology. The ‘macro’ does not often include only the policies of the nation state, but also factors and powers outside the nation state. For e.g. the influence wielded by the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and big powers on many third world countries, which impact the distribution of goods and services in the society. At times, therefore,there is need to influence the larger world order, in order to be able to bring changes in either the nation
state or a whole group of nations suffering from biased/ skewed international policies.

Thus, the complex nature of the model, a lack of preparedness on the part of the worker, a feeling of lack of faith/relevance within the community, and the conflict such a model is likely to generate, make this by far the most difficult and rarely practiced model of community work.

The specific tasks involved in the model are:
1) To develop an understanding of the link between micro and macro social realities.
2) To make a conscious decision about an alternative political ideology.
3) To share this understanding with the community, to enable it to make its own decisions.
4) To help the community identify a plan of action to pursue its goal by locating specific issues and consequent action to launch a long struggle.

5) To help the community sustain its interest, enthusiasm and capacity to meet the strain which is likely to arise out of an inevitable conflict with the existing power structure.