Tuesday, 11 February 2014

THE RELEVANCE OF POWER IN COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION


Development is influenced by power structures of the community. People who are influential can mobilize a major segment of the community. For example; in fund raising drive some people can move behind other people and institutions. There are two models of community power structure. The stratification model and the pluralist mode are the two models of power structures.

Stratification model suggests that social class principally determines the distribution of community power. According to this model the power structure in community is composed of stable upper class elite whose interest and outlook on community affairs are relatively homogeneous.

According to pluralist model, it rejects the idea that a small homogeneous group dominates community decision-making. But there are numerous small special interest groups that cut across class lines, which are represented in the community decision-making. These are interest groups with overlapping memberships, widely differing power bases, have influences on decisions. Community decisions are the result of the interactions of these different interest groups. This theoretical orientation can help the community organizer in his action.

The organizer has to identify the members of the power structure for community organization. Floyd Hunter, an executive director of a community welfare council, wrote classic volumes on community power structure. His method of locating community elites is known as the reputation approach. The basic procedure is to ask a group of informants who are knowledgeable about the community to list the people they believe to be most influential in the community affairs.

There may be variations on this procedure with regard to how informants are selected, and how questions are put in. By tallying those people most frequently named as influential leaders we can identify the core of the community power structure. Position approach is another method of locating the members of the power structure based on the assumption of stratification model. This approach assumes that people holding the highest office in the community are at the top of the power structure. By scanning the executive lists of the important social political and economic organizations in the community, one can quickly compile a list of members of the power structure. This approach requires fewer efforts than the reputation approach. Community power is directly related with Community Organization. Participation of people is related with power.

In Community Organization community power holders are involved to induce people’s participation in order to achieve the organizations objectives. Sometimes if the existing power centres are not for Community Organizational objectives, then a new centre of power is created to get people’s commitment and mass participation. The organizer needs to study power structure and Community Organization process is carried out successfully through leaders. For example, people are organized to implement family planning. For this the leader is motivated for people’s participation. In some villages the leader opposes family planning. In this situation the community organizer has to identify a new powerful leader to implement family planning. Otherwise it is not possible to implement family planning in the village.