Community development is a broad term given to the practices of civic activists, involved citizens and professionals to build stronger and more resilient local communities. Community development seeks to empower individuals and groups of people by providing them with the skills they need to effect change in their own communities. These skills are often created through the formation of large social groups working for a common agenda.
Community developers must understand both how to work with individuals and how to affect communities’ positions within the context of larger social institutions. There are a myriad of job titles for Community Development workers and their employers include public authorities and voluntary or non-governmental organisations, funded by the state and by independent grant making bodies.
Since the 1970s the prefix word ‘community’ has also been adopted by several other occupations from the police and health workers to planners and architects, who work with more disadvantaged groups and communities and have been influenced by Community Development approaches.
Community Development practitioners have over many years developed a range of skills and approaches for working within local communities and in particular with disadvantaged people. These include less formal educational methods, community organising and group work skills. Since the 1960s and 70s through the various anti poverty programs in both developed and developing countries, Community Development practitioners have been influenced by structural analyses as to the causes of disadvantage and poverty i.e. inequalities in the distribution of wealth, income, land etc. and especially political power and the need to mobilize people power to affect social change.