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Discuss the extent to which public and social policies have impacted upon the theory and practice of community work.

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Introduction

This essay attempts to discuss the extent to which public and social policies have impacted upon the theory and practice of community work. It will offer an example of what community is although the term itself is often a contested concept. We will look at the history of community work and the policies that made an impact on community work. We will also examine the different approaches such as the pluralist and radical and socialist approaches in relation to community work and the different models that are encompassed within community work such as community development, community action and community care. Community work has been an important and imperative part of social policy through out history, but more so since the 60's. Community work is the strengthening of the social resources and process by developing contracts; relationships, networks, agreements and activities outside the household that residents themselves will identify will make their locality a better place to live. Jrf.org.uk The concept of community is constantly changing and has been used in different ways over time. The word community can mean very different things to different people. Bell & Newby found 98 definitions of the meaning of community. More often than not, a community can be people who share a commonality, for example live in the same neighbourhood. However, Harris (ed) described the term community as, "That web of personal relationships, groups, networks, traditions and patterns of behaviour that develop amongst those who share the same physical neighbourhood and its socio-economic situation or common understandings and goals around a shared interest". Harris, V (ed) section 2, pg.2 The word community has existed in the English language since about the 14th century. According to Mayo, (1994) the word community was originally used to refer to the 'common people' as opposed to those of rank or to a state or organised society. From about the 16th Century the term started to refer to the 'quality of having something in common' and to share a common identity and characteristics. ...read more.

Middle

Throughout the 50's and 60's, there was a period of consensus. The consensus was built upon an expanding confident national and international economy. It reflected rising levels of living standards, low unemployment and high levels of trade. It was a period of affluence. The period of 1968 - mid 70's was a time when community work began to flourish in both statutory and voluntary sectors, as the stat became more involved in addressing issues of social, political and economic change. This led to the development of two major issues within community work the urban programme and the community development projects. Popple (1996) Popple (1996) argues that the urban programme emerged, "As a response by the labour government to Enoch Powell's 'rivers of blood' speech which predicted racial tension in British cities and the governments concern to be seen to be acting on rising public panic to immigration and race relations" Popple (1996), pg.16 Popple argues that both the conservative and labour governments were panicking that black immigrants would be attacked because of rising unemployment once again. They attempted to restrict immigration while at the same time make new settlers feel welcome. The urban programme was therefore a part of policy containing the 'problem' of black people living in urban areas. However, it was not restricted to 'black areas' for this might cause accusations of favour. The urban aid programme was aid fro combating deprivation at local levels because of unemployment, overcrowding, large families, poor environments, immigrant concentrations and children in care or in need The other issue that arose at this time was the community development project, which was state - supported community work. It developed as popple (1996) argues from social democratic philosophy, which argued that some of the population were suffering because of a range of problems, popple argues, "The projects were to assist people to use the social services more constructively and to reduce dependants on those services by stimulating community change" Popple (1996) ...read more.

Conclusion

Popple outlined the key theories of Thatcher as the primacy of wealth creation; the regulation of distribution based upon the trickle down theory; and an attack upon the restructuring of the states welfare system. Also the deregulation of public and private activity and the idea of absolute poverty instead of relative poverty. Despite all this occurring within society community work at this time was revived. The state frequently used community work as a means of intervening in neighbourhoods to dampen social unrest particularly at the time violent disorder in urban areas during the 80's. Community work today is still very much alive as we can see through the regeneration schemes that are taking shape in deprived areas. Credit unions, though not a new thing, are assisting people to save money, which can be then used to increase on a loan, and paid back in small weekly amounts with little or no interest. Business are developing subsides and are moving into develop areas by building new initiatives. There is also a new scheme in many areas called the sure start campaign that is aimed at improving the standards of living health and education for pre - school children the government has also supported this by raising the maternity grant to �500 in order for parents on benefits or low incomes. Community work has been and will probably continue to be an ever-changing arena. We have seen the models and theories that exist within community work on a small scale there are many more ideas surrounding the issue. There is every possibility that economic crisis will continue to emerge and re-emerge throughout the future. As Jacobs and popple (1994) argue only a major social restructuring and a new kind of political settlement together with mass investments in education, industry, training and the welfare state will prevent worsening public services and larger inequalities in wealth. However, community work will continue to be the progressive force in liberating minds and supporting the actions of the disadvantaged. ...read more.

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