Model Development in Community Practice: An Historical Perspective
The rationale for adoption of the term community practice is the wide range of connotations given to the usual "umbrella term" of community organization during its evolution as a practice discipline. In some periods, community organization has been used almost exclusively to connote community level social planning and service integration, while in other periods it has principally signified grassroots organizing and social action. In most periods both major functions have been recognized but the mixed usage can create confusion. Community practice provides a conceptual and theoretical umbrella that embraces and elaborates multiple models which often share several common processes but which have different emphases in knowledge base, methods, and skills. The growth of theory, literature, and research demands a conceptual framework that can encompass all the major models and modalities of work with people in communities and interorganizational alliances to deal with and find solutions for social problems. Organizing, planning, development and change processes are all integral parts of community practice and provide a framework to clarify and elaborate models of practice. This paper examines the origins and evolution of models of community practice and presents eight basic models of current community practice: social and economic development, neighborhood and community organizing, organizing functional communities, program development and community liaison, social planning, political and social action, coalitions, and social movements. Each of these community social work models is directed toward positive social change.