Reconcilable differences? Human diversity, cultural relativity, and sense of community.

Published

Journal Article

Sense of community (SOC) is one of the most widely used and studied constructs in community psychology. As proposed by Sarason in (The Psychological sense of community: prospects for a community psychology, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 1974), SOC represents the strength of bonding among community members. It is a valuable component of community life, and it has been linked to positive mental health outcomes, citizen participation, and community connectedness. However, promotion of SOC can become problematic in community psychology praxis when it conflicts with other core values proposed to define the field, namely values of human diversity, cultural relativity, and heterogeneity of experience and perspective. Several commentators have noted that promotion of SOC can conflict with multicultural diversity because it tends to emphasize group member similarity and appears to be higher in homogeneous communities. In this paper, we introduce the idea of a community-diversity dialectic as part of praxis and research in community psychology. We argue that systematic consideration of cultural psychology perspectives can guide efforts to address a community-diversity dialectic and revise SOC formulations that ultimately will invigorate community research and action. We provide a working agenda for addressing this dialectic, proposing that systematic consideration of the creative tension between SOC and diversity can be beneficial to community psychology.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Townley, G; Kloos, B; Green, EP; Franco, MM

Published Date

  • March 2011

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 47 / 1-2

Start / End Page

  • 69 - 85

PubMed ID

  • 20978837

Pubmed Central ID

  • 20978837

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1573-2770

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0091-0562

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s10464-010-9379-9

Language

  • eng