Concept of Society or Community

Concept of Society or Community:

The term Society/Community defined as the active voluntary engagement of individuals/group of people to change problematic conditions and to influence policies and programmes that affect the quality of their life and the life of others (Gamble & Weil, 1995.p.483).


According to Majory (2009), Communities can be defined by the characteristics of its peoples geographic boundaries, history shared interests, values and power relations. There exists vital interactions and networking within the community. The elements of a community include; A group of people, a definite territory, community sentiment, similarity in language, culture, traditions, customs and values, a sense of membership, common needs and commitment to meet them and a shared history. A community is a multidimensional system which is variable, shaped and re-shaped continuously by changing actions and relationships.


3.      Concept of Community participation:

3.1.Definition of Community participation:

The term of participation is modified with adjectives, resulting in terms such as Society participation, community participation, citizen participation, people’s participation, andpublic participation. The Oxford English Dictionary defines participation as - to have a share in or - to take part in, thereby emphasizing the rights of individuals and the choices that they make in order to participate. World bank propose to define community participation as an active process by which beneficiary/ client groups influence the direction and execution of a development project with a view to enhancing their wellbeing in terms of income, personal growth, self-reliance or other values they cherish.Samuel Paul, World Bank (1987). The Economic Commission for Latin America (1973) defined community participation as voluntary contribution by people in one way or another in cash or in kind in public programmes. The above definitionviews community participation as bottom-up approach originates from the people themselves and not forced by external pressure.


Armitage (1988) defined citizen participation as a process by which citizens act in response to public concerns, voice their opinions about decisions that affect them, and take responsibility for changes to their community. Brager, Specht, and Torczyner (1987) defined participation as a means to educate citizens and to increase their competence. It is a vehicle for influencing decisions that affect the lives of citizens and an avenue for transferring political power. However, it can also be a mechanism for ensuring the receptivity, sensitivity, and even accountability of social services to the consumers.


Community participation was defined by Ertsen et al (2007) as active engagement of individuals within a community to solve conditions, influence policies and programs that are geared towards improving the quality of their lives. Reid (2008) explained that the concept of community participation assumes that value accrues to the community members through the acts of participation and association. Therefore, the more community are involved in a decision-making process, the more likely they will develop sense of teamwork and cooperation, thereby increasing their motivation, commitment, and contribution to the process of development (Sanoff, 2006).


The top-down-approach has been associated with many government schemes often meant involved government agency providing professional leadership services and programs without much involvement from the beneficiary community (Ademola and Tackie-ofosu, 2013). This model is structured around the use of professional leadership provided by external resources that plan, implement, and evaluate development programs (Sanoff, 2006).


Down-Top approach has been associated with stronger forms of participation, involving control over decisions, priorities, plans, and implementation, therefore, leading to social and personal empowerment, economic development, and socio-political transformation (Mwakila, 2008).


3.2.  The degree of community participation:

The degrees of community participation in community were defined by Koestler (2008) defined projects as: co-option, compliance, consultation, cooperation, collective action, and co-learning. It was important for the community to understand the levels and modes of community participation in community development process for effective community participation in rural infrastructure development projects (Theron, 2005). These approaches become more relevant when the impact of participation is assessed in relation to a program or project, and the degree of participation becomes a central feature in this regard (Fokane, 2008). All participation efforts in community development are not equal thus; the extent of participation in the project may vary per project or program (Kakumba and Nsingo, 2008). The topology of participation, therefore, shows increasing degrees of participation from the low end of co-option to the upper end of collective action (Koestler, 2008). The level community participation increases community ownership and capacity thus guaranteed sustainability of the project (Munger et al, 2008).



Community participation discourse described different levels in which beneficiaries of any development initiative should be involved. This can be typically applied in rural infrastructuredevelopment projects (Amerasinghe, 2009).

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