What Is the Connection between Community Development and Social Work?

Osmand Vitez

Community development and social work often have a symbiotic relationship, where one does not exist without the other. The process of community development involves a local municipality engaging in activities that increase the well-being of citizens living in the locale. Infrastructure improvements — such as fire departments, police forces, schools, or roads — are among the most common activities. Social work describes the time given by citizens to help improve the local community; these individuals typically receive no remuneration for their work. Together, they can drive the improvements of the municipality.

Citizens — both individuals and businesses — may engage in community development and social work out of a sense of benevolence.
Citizens — both individuals and businesses — may engage in community development and social work out of a sense of benevolence.

Regional and national governments may both spend money on community development. The funds for many activities come through taxes imposed on individuals in geographic regions. Other times, special donations from individuals or businesses are required; a library, for example, may ask for donations in order to improve a part of its internal building. Schools also often ask for funds from the community above their normal tax allotments from the government.

Community development includes providing positive activities for children.
Community development includes providing positive activities for children.

Citizens — both individuals and businesses — may engage in community development and social work out of a sense of benevolence. Individuals may simply feel better when they donate time and effort into community development. Businesses may not be so altruistic in their goals, but they may receive a tax deduction for money given to a nonprofit organization or government-funded operation. Additionally, a business can improve its standing with citizens by advertising its involvement with a certain activity that involves community development.

Government programs may also be in place that allow individuals and businesses to engage in community development and social work. This allows government-sponsored operations to use free labor in order to get things done. For example, governments may not have funds to pay for litter pickup along a highway. Offers are then made to companies for sponsoring sections of the highway for this activity. The business will pay the sponsorship fee and then engage in litter pickup at specified intervals.

Community activities such as these typically benefit more than one person. As a result, the importance of the activity is usually clear to the community and its citizens. Without them, a municipality may be less appealing to both residents and corporations.

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Discussion Comments


@indigomoth - Social workers do often get involved in what is called 'casework' which is when they are assigned to a child in crisis or perhaps someone with psychological problems.

They make sure that all the right avenues for help are explored.

But they might also get involved in the community in other ways, including addressing problems like poverty and homelessness and so forth.

It really depends on what kind of agency they work for.

Personally I think the more the people in the community are willing to do, the better the community will do as a whole. There are so many things that are made easier with the addition of a few pairs of willing hands.


@indigomoth - Social workers are who I think of when I hear the term social work, but I think that it can be used in a wider sense as well.

Social work in general can just mean work that you've done for the greater good of the community. The example of people who pick up litter along the highways are a good example.

I think that the community gardens that are starting to become more and more common are another good example. Everyone who volunteers their time to those gardens is doing "social work" I think.

Professional social workers can do all kinds of things, including looking after kids, but also relating to policy making, human rights, helping recent immigrants and so forth.

It can be a very interesting and varied profession from what I understand.


Social workers can be wonderful people and have a varied job, although I think most people associate them with troubled children.

My mother is a teacher and she always talks about social workers in connection to her students.

They are the men and women who work alongside troubled kids who have got into trouble and need to be guided out of it. They make sure that the kids are kept safe at home and that they are getting legal council if they need it, or even counseling or study support if they need that.

I can definitely see how that helps community development, as the more conscientious kids you have in a community the better that community will fare.

And if you have a whole bunch of unhappy kids you will end up with a damaged community.

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