Activism is action on behalf of a cause, action that goes beyond what is conventional or routine and is relative to the actions by others.
Health activism is a growing area of interest for many who work to improve health at both national and international levels because it offers a more direct approach to achieve lasting social and political change. This book, for the first time, provides a clear foundation to the theory, evidence-base and strategies that can be harnessed to bring about change to improve the lives and health of others.
For anyone working to improve the health of groups and communities, this will be thought-provoking reading. It has particular relevance for postgraduate students and practitioners in public health and health promotion.
Chapter 8: Community Activism
Working with Communities
It is important for practitioners to think beyond the customary view of a community as a place where people live, for example, a neighbourhood, because these are often just an aggregate of non-connected people. Communities have both a social and a geographic characteristic and consist of heterogeneous individuals with dynamic relations that sometimes organise into groups to take action towards achieving shared goals.
As a working ‘rule of thumb’, a community will have the following characteristics:
- a spatial dimension, that is, a place or locale;
- non-spatial dimensions that involve people who otherwise make up heterogeneous and disparate groups;
- social interactions that are dynamic and bind people into relationships;
- the identification of shared needs and concerns. (Laverack, 2004: 46)
Within the geographic dimensions ...