Re-Building[ edit ] Leadership, geography, history, socio-economic status all are traditionally used to explain success of community and its well-being. Robert Putnam in his book Bowling Alone  finds that a community's well-being is dependent on the quality of relationships among the citizens of that community. He refers to this as social capital.
Learn how to understand people's culture, community and leadership to enhance engagement. How do culture and other factors affect the social organization of a community? How do culture and other factors affect the leadership of a community? What are examples of social networks and ethnic organizations that a community builder can use to learn about the social organization of a group and to identify and engage its leaders?
What are some of the common challenges that a community builder might face when working in a diverse community? In order to work effectively in a culturally and ethnically diverse community, a community builder needs to first understand how each racial and ethnic group in that community is organized in order to support its members.
It is not uncommon to hear a community leader, a funder, a political representative, or a service provider say, "We were not able to engage that group over there because they are not organized.
They have no leaders. We need to organize them first. These networks or leaders may not be housed in a physical location or building that is obvious to people outside of the group. They may not even have a label or a title. There is an unspoken understanding in some groups about when and whom they should turn to among their members for advice, guidance, and blessing.
Once a community builder understands the social organization of the group, it will become easier to identify the most appropriate leaders, help build bridges, and work across multiple groups in a diverse community. What do we mean by "social organization? This network of relationships helps members of a group stay connected to one another in order to maintain a sense of community within a group.
The social organization of a group is influenced by culture and other factors. Within the social organization of a group of people, there are leaders. Leaders are individuals who have followers, a constituency, or simply a group of people whom they can influence.
A community builder needs to know who the leaders are in a group in order to get support for his community building work. In this section, you will learn more about the social organization and leadership of different cultural and ethnic groups.
The material covered in this section focuses primarily on African Americans and immigrants for two reasons: Tensions tend to occur among groups that are competing for resources that are already limited and not always accessible to them; and Most of the struggles facing community builders and other individuals have been with recent immigrants whose culture, institutions, and traditions are still unfamiliar to mainstream groups.
As recent immigrant groups integrate into their new society, their social organization and leadership structures transform to become more similar to those of mainstream groups. This process could take decades and generations; all the more reason why it is important for community builders to understand the social organization and leadership structure of the new arrivals and to build on their values and strengths.
While some traditional social structures may prevail, others may adapt to those of the mainstream culture. Take a moment and think about the most recent group of newcomers to your community. Who are their leaders? Where do their members go to for help? Think about the group you belong to.
Who are the leaders? Whom do you go to for help? How is your group organized to communicate among its members? Obviously there are too many groups in this world to include in this section. We will try to share information about as many groups as we can.
While the section may not inform you about the social organization and leadership of groups other than the ones described here, we hope it will help you understand enough about the influence of culture on social organization and leadership to ask the right questions of any group.
There are many definitions of culture. Culture typically refers to a set of symbols, rituals, values, and beliefs that make one group different from another.
Culture is learned and shared with people who live or lived in the same social environment for a long time. Culture is captured in many, many ways -- in the way members of a group greet and interact with one another, in legends and children's stories, in the way food is prepared and used, in the way people pray, and so on.
Since it is difficult and not always appropriate to change someone's culture, how do you then use culture as a positive force to aid community building?
In the Chinese community: The Chinese community is the largest and the fastest growing group among Asian and Pacific Islander populations.
There are many dialects spoken among the Chinese and not all Chinese persons can understand one another's dialects.
Therefore, make sure you know which Chinese dialect requires translation if you have to provide translation services. The Chinese culture places heavy emphasis on taking care of one's family.
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