Changes in Community Psychology


The concept of community suggests that there is a collective appreciation and concern for the environment and citizens within that community and that the development of programs to ensure the safety, health, and prosperity of the community would be at the forefront of concern for those citizens and the leaders of the community. The field of community psychology focuses on these programs and the reactions of the citizens of the communities to those programs. For example, the collectivism of the community can be tested by the acceptance of the policies that may inconvenience or cost the individual citizens but would enhance the overall community. The leadership as well as the individuals are responsible for ensuring that the policies are carried out in order to protect the community. It is within the means of these parties to implement the policies that the field of community psychology is rooted. This particular field of study has evolved nearly as rapidly as the communities that the specialists have studied.

According to Nelson, the field of community psychology has began in Canada and “the term community psychology was first used in 1951 by University of Toronto psychology professor William Line”. Originally considered a minor subtopic under the field of psychology, there was very little literature available for the field for many years after the initial terminology was implemented. Nelson adds that this field of study remains heavily marginalized in the overall world of psychology but there are signs of the field growing beyond the Canadian borders. However, community psychologist recognize that their “eclectic and participatory approach to research and social interventions, is necessary and relevant in our increasingly multicultural society and globalized world”. Perhaps it is due to these changing societies and globalization that the field of studying these communities must also change.

The modernization of the world from communities that remained close to reunions that draw in former residents who now reside in foreign countries, has caused a change in the interventions and policies of these communities. The family style communities of the colonial days are not necessarily present in the majority of communities within the modern world. Therefore, every aspect of the community has changed and subsequently, those who study these communities must also change the approaches to their research.

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