Engaging in the community as well as engaging ourselves with the issues of our society makes us aware and open to the different theories regarding the roles and relationship that contributes to it. Awareness and being concerned to the society are some of the characteristic that we all should have to be able to understand what the things that most of the times are affects our engagement to the society that we have now. This essay mainly gives knowledge and understanding about community engagement and critically discusses the role as well as the relationship of community engagement to the society.
In addition, there are some relevant theories to be used in discussion on the roles and relationship of community engagement to the society that may help better understand the nature of community engagement such as ethical theory, communicative theory and citizenship theory. There are several definitions of community engagement and these definitions represent or symbolize the culture, beliefs and tradition of every group that provided the meaning of it. Even though community engagement is defined differently or characterized in many different ways by various groups, still these definitions have only one common meaning.
Generally, community engagement is defined as the process wherein community groups or institutions work mutually to address circumstances and situations that impact or greatly influence the well-being of those groups. In practice, community engagement is a combination of social science and art. The science comes from sociology, political science, cultural anthropology, organizational development, psychology, social work, and other disciplines with organizing concepts drawn from the literature on community participation, community mobilization, constituency building, community psychology, cultural influences, and other sources.
On the other hand, the vital artistic element needed for the community engagement includes the utilization of understanding, skill, and sensitivity to apply and adapt the science in ways that fit the community and purposes of specific engagement efforts (SCDC 2009) Community Engagement is the process of creating a harmonious relationship within community members who will do their tasks side-by-side with the society as an on-going partner, in any and each way imaginable, producing an army that can maintain for the mission, and with the ultimate goal of making the community a better place to live (Gottlieb 2009). Engagement helps communities articulate, develop and achieve their goals’ Sarkissian et. al. (2009,pp. 5-6).
From that definition, community engagement has to recognize their goals before involve other community to help with. According to Howard & Butcher (2007), community engagement refers to the collaboration between the higher education institutions as well as their larger communities, which include the local, regional/state, national and global communities to achieve a common beneficial trading and development of knowledge as well as resources in a context of reciprocity and relationship.
There are several activities that a community engagement has. These include service-learning, voter registration drives, community-based research, community-centered forums, alternative spring breaks, community-based internships, and lastly, the community service. In addition to the definition given, the National Standards for Community Engagement define community engagement as the one which develops and sustains a working relationship between one or more public institutions and one or more community teams, to better help them both to understand and work on the needs or situations that the community encounters (SCDC 2009).
When it comes to the roles of community engagement to the society, probably the most common question being raised is on the importance and role of it and how does it function to the community. As mentioned above, community engagement refers to the connection and relationship between communities to achieve development as well as to implement policies, programs and services ( Howard & Butcher 2007) . It simply functions as the process of working collaboratively with the community to address issues influencing their lives.
The effectiveness of community engagement is dependent upon a shared understanding of the meaning, principles and processes involved. In addition to this, community engagement also recognizes the privileges and the rights of the people living in the community to free and share their opinions and to get involved in the business of government. Through community engagement, the society is being recognized and accepted as a significant source of expertise that may affect the government decisions and other institutions to improve the quality and delivery of public service.
To better achieve what a community engagement desires, there should be a harmonious and mutual relationship within the community. These relationships are based on trust as well as openness, and are shaped and produced at both personal and institutional levels. There should be also sustainability in a sense that community engagement needs relationships, partnerships and activities that can be sustainable for a longer period of time. The community engagement should also work on purpose and based on goals that mutually beneficial for all concerned parties.
In addition, communication is vital for community engagement to work well. Communication strategies are vital to support relationship formation, ensure sustainability as well as to improve understanding of initiatives amongst communities (Gottlieb 2009). There are studies conducted and theories formulated that allowed researchers to develop organizing concepts about communities and the different methods or means on how they are mobilized.
These theories help us to better understand the importance of community engagement as well as to the most effective way to engage people in addressing public health issues and concerns. One of these theories is the ethical theory. The definition of ethics is ‘many concepts that explain the process of decision making aimed at making the right choices’ (Breit 2007,p. 308). Ethical theory is closely aligned with the responsibilities to public that are attached to one’s role in a given context (James et al. 2010, p. 226).
For example the issue of media ethics in the music industry, film, and television become a contentious issue because the industry was accused of giving negative impact to public, but the industry stated that public or audience who should be responsible to filter the media content they have been consume (James et al. 2010, p. 221). To live in a society that is relatively stable and predictable, where each individual is able to pursue their personal best interests and goals, some minimal rules would have to be developed or acknowledged which would support mutually advantageous cooperation among the individuals of the society.
The existence of ethics in the world of communication is very necessary, although in practice still far from expectations. Being an individual living within the society we should be respected about our opinion to maintain self-preservation and pursue human self interest. Because as a rational human being living within the community we can follow and obey rules that the society applies as long as it is fairly applied to everyone.
Existence of governments also helps the people abide the rules and laws of the society and completely ensures cooperativeness as long as their self-interest would benefit. Since people are competitive in nature the society should also provide an equal opportunity for all people to have the chance to live a good life. And this theory it shows that people engaging in the community through their work, position, power, and other essentials to them best explains how important our relationship to the society. And it is only through engagement in the society.
Second theory that is very vital to the community engagement is the communication theory. Communication is a very significant factor not only in a community engagement but also in activities of our daily lives. Without proper communication, man will not have a means to express their insights and feelings to each other. Without it, there will be chaos and problems that might arise all over the world. Thus communication is essential as the basic unit for creating understanding and harmonious relationship with one another (Hirst & Harrison 2007, p. 25).
In community engagement, communication is pragmatic as it opens interaction, gives information as well as creates or fixes discussions. It may be in informal or formal channels of communication, as long as everybody understands what everybody wants to imply. In addition, communication helps people to share their visions and make clear and realistic goals. Through people’s ability to communicate with each other community engagement is best ensure. In this postmodern era, it seems like progress of communication has been supported by technologies.
The Internet as a part of media has growth very rapidly and become one of the most important parts in people lives and help people to communication. In other side, Internet also helps community engagement to communicate all over the world. Another theory that can really useful is citizenship theory. According to Hudson & Kane (2000, p. 223) citizenship is a status to a member of community and also have rights and responsibilities that is may be linked to what values and ideals that society holds. Basically, there are two kind of citizenship such as active and passive citizenship.
Active citizenship is some people which always aspire to become active and involved or participate in public life in their community and passive citizenship is naturalized born to be member of society and never get involved (Hudson & Kane 2000, p. 223). Mostly, active citizenship will be volunteers to spend their time but passive citizenship in general tend to spend their time in very similar ways with active citizenship and decided becoming non-volunteers. However, there are some important differences, the amount of time each of there groups spends watching television.
On average, those who have never volunteered watch 436 more hours of television that volunteers each year. Active citizenship can help promote development of community engagement. Active citizenship more cares about society and respect the most basic of human rights and insist on access to democratic principles for all people of the world. In conclusion, this essay is of great help for the students as well as the other readers and researchers for them to better understand the nature of community engagement and the importance of it to the society where they belong.
And hopefully the readers would somehow pick up some important facts inside the above mentioned theories. All this theories can be better solution to the ethical problems associated with spin. It also gives the importance of community engagement as well as its roles, functions and relationships with the society. To better understand the critical discussion made on this paper, it also utilizes three among the many theories on community engagement such as the communication theory and citizenship theory.
These theories, although they are still theories, are important factors that greatly affect the community engagement. It gives us some ideas that would help the people to be aware of what they can do to our society’s development and to ourselves. Community engagement actually just have one purpose generally refers to the community engagement as a process wherein community, groups and institutions work hand in hand or give mutual effort to deal with the situations and circumstances that give impact to their own well-being.
Courtney from Study Moose
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