Shaping community inclusion requires a better understanding of “community”

(Credit Music) Hi. I’m Rawad Mcheimech.
The aim of the study I will be
presenting this video was to clarify the meaning of the
commonly used word “community”. This study has been completed to inform
the work of a research program on quality improvement and services for
Ontarians with intellectual and developmental disabilities. also known as IDD. First, I will present the results and discuss their implications. If you’re interested in the methods, please wait till the
end of the video. Community is a vague
concept that is hard to define. The term community is used a lot in the
academic peer-reviewed literature without a consensual definition. For
instance, if you search for the term “community” in a database called PsycINFO, you will get more than a hundred thousand studies. Many of those studies have different
definitions of community or they don’t even define it. In the Cambridge Specialised
Dictionary of Psychology, community psychology is defined as a sub-field of psychology dedicated to study communities, but no definition of community is actually provided. In dictionaries such
as Merriam-Webster, you will find several
definitions of community. Another context in which the term community is used is in the World
Health Organization guidelines on community-based
rehabilitation. This approach is
recommended to empower persons with disabilities to access and benefit
from education, employment, health, and social services.
However, the World Health Organization
guidelines do not include a definition of community. Among persons with disabilities, persons with IDD
are particularly vulnerable to exclusion
from their communities. IDDs are characterized by
cognitive limitations and difficulties with
adaptive behaviors, and these limitations
appear before the age of 18. In this study, we aim
to create a better understanding of
community for future research in any discipline, and to help the development of policies
and services supporting the
inclusion of adults with IDD in their own communities. To do so, we have
reviewed definitions of community in published
scientific papers and conducted focus groups with persons
with IDD and members of their communities.
We identified ten common themes and
three uncommon teams in the reviewed
definitions of community. The most common theme was, “physical proximity”. It refers
to geography or location. For instance, neighbors belong to the
same community because they live in the same neighborhood. “Shared” was the second
most common theme. It refers to anything that
members of a community have in common, such as shared interests, goals,
perspectives, or any other attributes. The third common
theme was “group”. any collection of individuals, networks, or clans are
considered a group. Community always
consists of more than just one person. “Belonging” was the
fourth most common theme. Feeling a sense of unity, commitment, and bonding
together over time are all examples
of belonging. If you don’t feel
like you belong to a community, then you
are not part of it. The fifth common theme was “bounded”. It defines community
by who is excluded as much as by who was included. For example,
Christians and Muslims are part of two
communities where each one is bounded by
it’s own faith. However, Christians and Muslims can
belong to the same community in a different context. For
example, as neighbors. Number six was “interaction”.
Participation, communication, or
any other social interaction, is categorized
under this theme. Members of the same community interact
with each other one way or another. “Support” was number seven on the list of
common themes. Community can’t exist without
solidarity, help during times of hardship,
responsibility, cooperation, and accountability. “Symbol”
was common theme number eight. This theme says that
community is just a concept, it is abstract,
theoretical, and ambiguous. The presence or absence
one of the factors in a community is often subjective and conceptual
rather than observable. The ninth common theme out of
ten that we have identified, was “territory free”.
Community could be based on certain factors but it doesn’t have to be location.
Online gamers, for example, have their own virtual communities.
Finally, the last common theme is sustained. Communities
have to be able to maintain, self-organize, preserve, and manage
themselves. When a certain community migrates to a different
location for example, it has to be able to settle and
organize again in order to survive. The remaining three themes we found were
uncommon. This means that they were rarely mentioned in a reported definition
of community. The first one was “process”. According
to this theme, community is in a
constant state of change, and it is elastic. It is not just form
and stop there. The second uncommon
theme was “diverse”. If we consider Canada
as a community, for example, it is very diverse because its citizens
are from different backgrounds. The third and last on common
theme was “tangible”. Although community is a concept, as I have mentioned
earlier, it could be regarded as a concrete
formation or organisation. For example, the teachers at my school,
the doctors in hospitals I visit, and the neighbors who live beside me,
are all concrete representations of my community. In the other part of
our study, we had focus group
discussions with persons with IDD, and members of their own community. We asked them what
they thought community means and what it
represents to them. A new theme, not found in the literature,
emerged from one of the focus groups. The theme is “unpaid”. The new theme was reported by a supporting
member of a person with IDD. She stated that the person with IDD
has a special relationship with the people who go to the same
church, because in her own words, “the relationship is unpaid”.
As a supporting member, she is paid to help
the person with IDD, but would their
relationship be the same if it were more natural, or in other
words, “unpaid”? We propose a definition of community
using the common themes we identified. A community is symbolized
by a bounded and sustained group of people who share
attributes, interact, develop a sense of belonging, and support
each other. Although they are common themes, we did
not include physical proximity or territory free in the proposed
definition, because they are contradictory. It depends on the context of a
community whether it is related to geography
or other factors, such as support or shared attributes.
Symbol and tangible we’re also contradictory themes,
but only symbol was a common theme. Some people might think community
is a conceptualization, but others, for example, persons with
IDD, might only think of their community in
terms of what they are able to perceive and observe. Although a community is based on a
group of people who share attributes, there is always diversity.
This is why we found another pair of contradictory
themes, which is shared and diverse. In this case as well, only
shared is a common theme. To conclude, there is little agreement
on the definition of community. Authors might disagree
because they study different populations
and different contexts. Definitions might also
change with time. For example, we now have virtual
communities that did not exist when previous
definitions of community were developed.
A major contribution of the study is that it informs policy
development and service planning that communities are not necessarily
based on physical proximity. So, in order to improve the social
inclusion and community participation of persons with IDD, decision makers and service providers
should pay further attention to the unpaid, and natural relationships that
persons with IDD have in groups which they
feel that they belong to. For those of you wanted to know about
the methods we used to get our results, We did a literature review in three
databases from psychology, philosophy, and sociology. We included
papers published in English between 2003 and 2013. We searched for studies that include the
term “community,” as well as the keywords “defined” or “construct” in the title, and the subject of the study. We also
held three focus group meetings that consisted of four
persons with IDD, along with members
of their own communities who are paid support staff.
We asked them three questions: One: What does the word “community” mean to
you? Two: Who do you consider to be
part of the participants community, and why? Three: Is there anybody else who
is part of the participants community, and why? The definitions
reported in the literature and the focus group transcriptions were
cut into meaningful statements that were categorized under the same
theme if they had similar meanings, or if they were synonyms. We checked for inter-rater and
intra-rater reliability. The themes were
identified as uncommon if they appeared in
less than five studies, and less than five definitions. The
rest were identified as common themes. Thank you for watching this video. For more
information, please visit the MAPS website, or contact my supervisor,
Virginie Cobigo, Assistant Professor at
the University of Ottawa, and CRECS Senior Researcher. (Credit Music)

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