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Solving community problems

Problem solving, task oriented goals (versus the process) are the focus of an assessment in social planning. Techniques are selected that gather social indicators of need.


Social problems addressed through formal services

The collection of data is usually done to lobby for additional services. This approach is more likely to rely on secondary data analysis to demonstrate needs of community and current level of services.

Change Strategy

Decisions made based on data collected

Change in the community is more focused on formal services, so data collection and analysis are completed by professionals to demonstrate the need. Surveys focus on utilization of formal services and perceptions of service providers (less focused on the informal supports and strengths of the community). Decisions made by professionals.

Change Tactics

Consensus or conflict

Data are summarized and distributed to an audience of professionals. Data are need focused. The information may be used to formally or informally lobby for services.

Community Worker (CW) Role

Fact gatherer and implementer

The focus of the CW is researcher/fact gatherer and the methodology for collecting and reporting is more quantitative and objective.

Medium of Change

Formal organization

Data are collected and issues prioritized by service providers, interagency groups.

Orientation Toward Power Structure

The power structure and the planner are almost synonymous

Usually an organization/government body has directed the planner to be involved, so the planner's interests, motivations and techniques are the same as their employer's. Planners are seen as possessing a high degree of technical expertise and power. Their recommendations will be grounded in an analysis of objective fact.

Boundary Definition of the Community

Total geographic community or a community segment (i.e., the homeless, the mentally ill)

Social planners may focus on the prevalence of issues across the entire city, and find city-wide solutions to the issues. They may also decide what the priority issues are and develop a plan focusing on a targeted segment of the population.

Assumptions Regarding Interests of Community Sub-groups

Interests reconcilable or in conflict

A planner would analyze the competing interests in order to predict resistances.

Conception of the Client Population or Constituency

Consumers of services

Planning is done "for" as opposed to "with" community members.

Conception of Client Role

Consumers or recipients

Members and consumers have no/minimal involvement as planners' efforts are not directed at organizing community members or putting mechanisms in place for community input.