Rothman's Three Models of Community Organizing


"Macro intervention involves methods of professional changing that target systems above the level of the individual, group, and family, i.e., organizations, communities, and regional and national entities. Macro practice deals with aspects of human service activity that are non-clinical in nature, but rather focus on broader social approaches to human betterment, emphasizing the effective delivery of services, strengthening community life, and preventing social ills. Macro practice, thus includes the areas of community organization, social policy and administration." (Rothman with Tropman, 1987).

Rothman has developed three models of community organizing which are locality development, social planning, and social action. Locality development is the model that most closely subscribes to the values and outcomes of what is typically referred to as "community development."" In practice however, many community development workers employ a range of techniques and approaches from locality development, social planning and social action models in their work with communities.

Definition/Underlying Assumptions

Locality Development Model

This model of community practice is based on the belief that in order to effect change, a wide variety of community people should be involved in planning, implementation, and evaluation. Key themes include the use of democratic procedures, voluntary cooperation, self-help, the development of local leadership, and educational objectives.

Social Planning Model

A rational, deliberately planned, technical process of problem-solving with regard to substantive social problems, characterizes this model. The degree of community participation may vary. However, building community capacity or fostering radical or fundamental social change is not a major goal of this model of community practice.

Social Action Model

Practitioners practising this model assume that a disadvantaged segment of the population needs to be organized in order to make demands on the larger community for increased resources or improved treatment. Key themes in this model are social justice, democracy, and the redistribution of power, resources, and decision making.

Purpose in Considering the Various Models

To identify and make explicit the assumptions and conditions that influence the selection of a model (or mixing models) of organizing, as it effects the process and the outcomes of the community assessment.

To integrate theory with the practice of community work.

To facilitate discussion and reflection on the process of community work.

To identify the types of skills and roles required by a community worker in different projects and the focus of how one spends his/her time.

To structure the tasks and techniques that will aid in achieving the process goals of community development.

To assist community workers in understanding how their orientation towards a particular model has affected the kinds of community projects they have become involved in and how they have chosen to work within a community. To provide a framework for community workers to revisit those decisions and do future planning.