Community and Neighborhood Organization

  • Bill Berkowitz


There are four compelling reasons why community psychologists should be directly concerned with community and neighborhood organization:
  1. 1

    Community organizing, through both the process and product of action, should ordinarily lead to personal empowerment, wellness, and increased competence for those involved; that is, to individual outcomes that are among the primary goals of our discipline

  2. 2

    Community organization, when successful, should also result in better communities; “better” in terms of the community’s expressed needs. That is, there should bebona fide community accomplishments to point to and tangible improvements in place

  3. 3

    Scholarly reports (e.g., Berry, Portney, & Thomson, 1993; Fisher, 1985; Homan, 1994; Mattaini & Thyer, 1996; Mattesich & Monsey, 1997; Minkler, 1997; Mondros & Wilson; 1994; Mott, 1997; Wandersman & Florin, Chapter, 11, this volume; Wittig & Bettencourt, 1996) and popular accounts as well (e.g., Alinsky, 1971; Dyson & Dyson, 1989; Kahn, 1982; Medoff & Sklar, 1994) suggest that community organization does, in fact, lead to such positive outcomes, for both individuals and communities. Moreover, psychological research suggests that community organization may have additional personal and social consequences that we view as desirable: greater happiness(Campbell, 1981; Diener, 1984), increased neighboring (Ahlbrandt, 1984), stronger social support networks (Pilisuk & Parks, 1986; Taylor, Repetti, & Seeman, 1997), and lower individual and community pathology (Aneshensel, 1992; Gesten & Jason, 1987; Heller, 1990; House, Umberson, & Landis, 1988; Kretzmann & McKnight, 1993; Naparstek, Biegel, & Spiro, 1982; Rodin, 1985)

  4. 4

    Finally, in times of economic downturn or worse, community organization can stimulate cooperation and local self-reliance, at little or no cost, thus cushioning and protecting the community from outside adversity



Social Psychology Annual Review Community Organization Community Intervention Community Psychology 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bill Berkowitz
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Massachusetts LowellLowellUSA

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