What Are the Different Types of Community Development Theory?

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  • Written By: Osmand Vitez
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 15 September 2014
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Community development theory is often a study conducted under economics or a similar social science. Its purpose is to discover how a community unit can best be moved from a lower economic tier to a higher one. A few types of community development theories focus on different approaches, which may focus on child development, public spaces, and general economic prosperity. Other types or approaches may exist, depending on the current conditions of a community. Economists, politicians, citizens, and outside consultants may be sources for starting these development theories.

Child development is a community development theory that starts with a community’s school system or similar networks. Economists look at how a proper school system or other child development programs can help improve the future of a community. Most communities have public school systems funded through taxes paid by citizens. Economists and others look at how a community spends these taxes and the effects of child development, which can go all the way to high schools, until children turn 18, becoming adults. Comparisons to other school systems may be necessary to understand the function of current school development.


Public spaces usually refer to any place in a community that offers free use for all citizens. Other inclusions in this definition can be public hospitals, firehouses, police units, and similar outfits. Community development theory may focus on improving these public spaces in addition to others, such as parks, libraries, and government buildings. In short, any infrastructure that lacks proper development may be included in this theoretical study. Larger cities and municipalities may conduct more studies that include these items when compared to smaller cities or municipalities.

General economic prosperity concerns itself with the livelihood of all citizens in a city. For example, the current income for individuals and households, tax burdens, inflation, and other economic situations may be under examination. Businesses are often necessary to help drive a municipality’s local economy. Community development theory reviews these and other issues to assure those who manage the community’s development will achieve economic success. Many different pieces of information may be necessary in this study to understand how a city or municipality operates financially.

Outside analysis in community development theory is often common by government agencies or academia. These reports help a nation as a whole to understand the effect of economic policy on many different locales. Periodic studies conducted by these groups may be used politically to change or alter current national economic policy.


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