Mary Lim

Sunday, August 30, 2015

mx: community psychology

Sense of Community: A Definition and Theory by David W. McMillan and David M. Chavis

  • Initial studies in the area of sense of community
    • Bachrach and Zautra's 7 items (feeling at home, satisfaction, agreement with beliefs, feeling of belonging, interest in what goes on, feeling an important part of, attachment to...)
    • Glynn's recognition of discrepancies between real/ideal levels of sense of community
    • Riger and Lavrakas' emphasis of the emotional aspect of experience
    • These studies revealed that sense of community does exist, but otherwise had limitations on the definition of communities
  • A Definition and Theory of Sense of Community
    • territorial (neighborhoods) and relational communities (professional, spiritual)
    • criteria for a definition of sense of community
      • explicit, concrete parts, imply warmth and intimacy, provide a dynamic description of the development/maintenance of the experience
    • membership (membership, influence, integration & fulfillment of needs, shared emotional connection
    • Membership
      • feeling of belonging
      • exclusive - creates boundaries for protection and privacy
        • deviants are pointed out, rejected to create boundaries
      • ex. banishment of Anne Hutchinson as heretic 1637
      • boundaries create...
        • emotional safety - provides structure, like gangs
        • sense of belonging and identification - feeling of acceptance by the group
        • personal investment - earning your place, like hazing rituals of college fraternities
        • common symbol system - ex. clenched fist for Black Power
    • Influence
      • member has to have some influence over the group & the group's ability to influence its members work simultaneously; cohesiveness and conformity
      • the force toward uniformity is transactional: validating its members and also creating group norms
    • Integration & Fulfillment of Needs
      • reinforcement
      • shared values creates a hierarchy of needs
    • Shared Emotional Connection
      • based partly on a shared history
      • the more they interact, more close
      • more positive experiences, greater bond
      • resolved tasks and solid interaction
      • amount of investment
      • reward and humiliation
      • spiritual bond
  • How the four elements work together
    • Dynamics Within the Elements
      • membership
        • boundaries provide protection = intimacy, emotional safety --> emotional safety makes people feel like they have a place, making them personally invested --> personal investment makes them feel like they belong --> reinforced by a common symbol system, which creates boundaries
      • influence
        • community influence on the member allows an individual to have more influence in the community
        • resistance or dominance causes one to be less influential
        • conformity and consensual validation
      • integration and fulfillment of needs
        • communities organize around needs, people join communities where they needs are met
        • mutual rewards
      • shared emotional connection
    • Dynamics Among the Elements
      • The University 
      • The Neighborhood
      • The Youth Gang
      • The Kibbutz
This reading made me realize the complexity of communities, and how many factors come into play. Most often times than not, communities are about the interchanging, simultaneous relationships between the individual and the group itself. While communities are beneficial to all and necessary to thrive, the one downside to it is its natural creation of boundaries. At times, this may involve division by race, socio-economic status, etc. that people use to single out other households that do not conform to the group. Communities should be stable and provide security, but at the same time be flexible to change. They should also have leaders who can account for all the members, but does not dominate over the members. These sorts of interconnected parts that create a community need to all be balanced and in harmony in order for an individual to feel like a part of a community. 

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