3 types of community engagement (with related concepts and literature)

In the last post I discussed the first of two challenges faced by students in critiquing an example of community engagement: selecting a good example of community engagement. In this post I’ll discuss the second challenge: deciding what literature and theoretical material to use in critiquing the example.

In the community engagement subjects I teach at the University of Newcastle, we look at three broad types of community engagement. Community engagement that focuses on:

  1. Consultation and decision-making
  2. Community development or community building
  3. Engaging people in service delivery or achieving the organisation’s goals.

When students critique an example of community engagement they sometimes use literature discussing one type of community engagement in a different context. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter too much, but at times the literature isn’t relevant or uses theoretical concepts that don’t easily apply to the example they are discussing.

The following identifies some key concepts that apply to each of the types of community engagement and some relevant literature. It is far from complete and I would welcome suggestions and comments so that I can continue building on it.

Consultation and decision-making

Consultation and decision-making is particularly relevant to the three levels of government (local, state and national) and government agencies, but a range of other organisations may want to engage communities in this way.

A few relevant concepts

  1. Spectrum of public participation
  2. Core principles for public engagement
  3. Art of Hosting (Collaborative group processes including World Café and Open Space)
  4. Group processes (e.g., the Toolkit for effective engagement)
  5. Vertical community engagement

Some literature that might help

Atlee, T., Buckley, S., Godec, J., Harris, R.-A., Heierbacher, S., Nurse, L., et al. (2009). Core principles for public engagement. National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation.

Aslin, H. J., & Brown, V. (2005). A framework and toolkit to work towards whole-of-community engagement. Paper presented at the International Conference on Engaging Communities.

Department of Communities. (2005). Engaging Queenslanders: An introduction to community engagement. Brisbane: Queensland Government Department of Communities.

Department of Sustainability and Environment. (2005). Effective Engagement: building relationships with community and other stakeholders. Book 1: An introduction to engagement. East Melbourne: Victorian Government Department of Sustainability and Environment. Also see Book 2 (The engagement planning workbook) and Book 3 (The engagement toolkit).

Johnson, A. L., & Cameron, J. (2006). Planning for Public Involvement: A Step-by-Step Guide, Practice and Policy Paper 1. Brisbane: Urban Research Program, Griffith University.

National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation. (2010). Resource guide on public engagement: National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation.

Wild, A., & Marshall, R. (1999). Participatory practice in the context of Local Agenda 21: a case study evaluation of experience in three English local authorities. Sustainable Development, 7(3), 151-162.

Community development or community building

While it is important to remember that community development and community engagement are not the same thing, community engagement is vital part of community development and community building.

Some relevant concepts or tools

  1. Community development
  2. Community capacity building
  3. Strengths-based practice
  4. Asset-based community-driven development
  5. Horizontal community engagement
  6. Social capital

Some literature that might help

Castles, M. (2005). Sounds Good But Does It Work? Assets-Based Community Development in Practice. Paper presented at the International Conference on Engaging Communities.

Center for Development Services (2005). Asset-based development: Success stories from Egyptian communities. A manual for practitioners. Cairo: Center for Development Services.

Cruickshank, M., & Darbyshire, A. (2005). Who changed Tara? A case study of community participation & engagement. Paper presented at the International Conference on Engaging Communities.

Green, M. (no date) “To Get The Right Ducks; You Need The Right Duck Call.” Available from http://www.mike-green.org/wkshop/l_therightducks_mike.pdf.

Kretzmann, J. P. (2010). Asset-based strategies for building resilient communities. In J. W. Reich, A. Zautra & J. S. Hall (Eds.), Handbook of adult resilience. New York: Guilford Press.

Kretzmann, J., & McKnight, J. (2005). Discovering community power: A guide to mobilizing local assets and your organization’s capacity. Evanston: Center for Urban Affairs & Policy Research, Northwestern University.

Mathie, A., & Cunningham, G. (2002). From Clients to Citizens: Asset-Based Community Development as a Strategy For Community-Driven Development. Antigonish, Nova Scotia: Coady International Institute.

McCashen, W. (2004). Communities of hope: A strengths-based resource for building community. Bendigo, Vic.: St Luke’s Innovative Resources.

O’Meara, P., Pendergast, C., & Robinson, A. (2007). Grassroots community engagement: the key to success in a community building program. Rural Society, 17(2), 155-164.

Smith, M. K. (2009) ‘Social capital’, The encyclopedia of informal education. Available from www.infed.org/biblio/social_capital.htm.

Young, S. (2006). What is the best modern evidence to guide building a community? West Perth: Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth. Available from http://www.aracy.org.au/publications-resources/area?command=record&id=132&cid=6 . pp. 1-20.

Engaging people in service delivery or achieving an organisation’s goals.

Frequently an important part of service delivery or a business plan is engaging local communities. We need to remember, however, that community engagement involves two-way processes and that not everything that tries to get people involved is community engagement. In particular marketing and media campaigns are not necessarily community engagement.

Some relevant concepts or tools

  1. Social models of health
  2. Primary health care and health promotion
  3. School and community partnerships
  4. Online community engagement
  5. Corporate social responsibility and corporate community engagement
  6. Stakeholder engagement

Some literature that might help

Australian Council for Educational Research. (2008). Schools First: Final report. Camberwell: Australian Council for Educational Research.

Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources. (2006). Community engagement and development. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.

Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. (2008). Family-School Partnerships Framework: A guide for schools and families. Canberra: Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

Jennings, K., & Bosch, C. (2011). Parent engagement in children’s education. Western Creek, ACT: Family-School & Community Partnerships Bureau.

National Health and Medical Research Council. (2006). Guide to effective participation of consumers and communities in developing and disseminating health information. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council.

O’Mara-Eves, A., Brunton, G., McDaid, D., Oliver, S., Kavanagh, J., Jamal, F., . . . Thomas, J. (2013). Community engagement to reduce inequalities in health: a systematic review, meta-analysis and economic analysis. Public Health Research, 1(4). doi: 10.3310/phr01040

Please add your suggestions and comments.

 If you liked this post please follow my blog (top right-hand corner of the blog), and you might like to look at:

  1. Ethics and community engagement
  2. Bottom-up community development
  3. 10 things I’ve learnt about strengths-based community engagement
  4. Community engagement in turning around schools
  5. What are social models of health?
  6. A World Cafe in a school – a step-by-step description

About Graeme Stuart

Lecturer (Family Action Centre, Newcastle Uni), blogger (Sustaining Community), environmentalist, Alternatives to Violence Project facilitator, father. Passionate about families, community development, peace & sustainability.
This entry was posted in Being an academic, Working with communities and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 3 types of community engagement (with related concepts and literature)

  1. Amazing post Graeme! Thanks so much for sharing such a detailed and well organized resource. This is almost a full curriculum and I am going to spend some time treating it as such – in other words I plan to study this intensely :-)

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