Chapter 15 – Community Approaches Within Health Psychology
Community Health Psychology is an approach based upon promoting strategies for social change at the local level that can contribute to
health and well-being.
While such approaches offer much potential for reducing health inequalities they can potentially distract attention from the broader
structural causes of ill health.
New Lanark- in the eighteenth century came up with the term to describe an alternative form of group living apart from industrial society.
A more communal style of living before conflictual and individualistic forms of living began rising.
Politics of Community Action:
- Has been growth of various forms of community or local social action which aims to challenge social oppression at a local level.
- The extent to which it actually is a challenge to wider political power depends upon its underlying assumptions.
- Community action draws upon different political heritages:
Consumerist approach: informed by contemporary neo-liberal ideology.
Tends to underplay the importance of broader political forces, e.g., issues of power, deindustrialization, and
adopts a very idealistic view of community change which can lead to community victim blaming.
Ordered Community Approach: harks back to some mythical past and is informed by neo-conservative and even fascist ideas.
Tries to rearrange social relationships and behaviours without consideration of the wider social context.
Socially Just Community Approach: Emphasizes the importance of promoting social equality and celebrating diversity.
This approach combines an awareness of and challenge to broader social injustices with local campaigns.
- Concern often around the evaluation of community based social interventions rather than wit attempts to challenge broader social
- North American social values for community psychology as outlined by Pilletensky and Nelson (2004)
Awareness of the political dimensions of human problems and a concern to promote an empowerment
approach that emphasizes self-determination, democratic participation and power sharing.
A commitment to participation in broader social movements for social action and social justice
An emotional commitment to social change though adopting a ‘preferential option’ for the poor and
A concern with promoting health and preventing disease and distress
Respect for diversity.
- South American approach to community psychology has traditionally been more explicitly political.
- Latin America’s approach was Liberation Psychology, which argues that it was the duty of Catholics to fight against social injustice
and to adopt a preferential option for the poor.
Dimensions of Community
- Community psychology is a