UNDERSTANDING CHANGE IN POOR COMMUNITIES: WHAT IS IT AND HOW WILL WE KNOW WHEN IT HAPPENS?
This article considers the way different interest groups within the community development field think about social change, and in particular how their assumptions about community-driven social change determine the strategies they believe will eventually transform poor communities. A review of the literature indicates that the community change concept embraced by policy analysts and philanthropic evaluators is inherently different from the one held by community development practitioners. Empirical findings from in-depth interviews with the executive directors of community development corporations (CDCs) reveal a person-focused understanding of community change that is in conflict with the physical redevelopment expectations of those who analyze and evaluate the impacts of their work. The author presents research findings that operationalize the community change perspectives of CDC practitioners and cohere with classical and contemporary social theories of community and change. A CDC practice-based approach to understanding community change is recommended.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: February 1, 2009