Pathology to Participation?: Reflections on Local Community
Development Programmes in Bosnia and Croatia and Prospects
for the Future
Community development approaches have been relatively underdeveloped
in Bosnia and Croatia dispite the often stated axiom that
social work is work with individuals, groups and communities.
A legacy of pathologising, individualistic, frameworks,
dominated by psychologists and defectologists has combined
with dominant political trends to make social perspectives
seem like socialism and therefore bad. The conflicts since
1991 have produced an unholy alliance between local and
foreign psychologists which has emphasized expensive, professionalizing,
and centralized psycho-social work rather than community
development. The impetus, ideology, and practice of community
development could emerge from 'Western' countries (e.g.
US and UK) where local community development is part of
a politicized social work seeking to challenge poverty and
oppression, from the developing world where social movements
involve social workers in promoting social mobilization
and advocacy, and in Central and Eastern Europe where people
power, allied to concepts of civil society, has produced
profound social changes, and may lead to new definitions
of social work. Local community development approaches are
more effective than other approaches because of their non
stigmatizing features. However, community development is
primarily an approach and an attitude and not a set of hard
and fast rules which can be applied in all situations and
all cultures. There are examples of projects in Croatia
and Bosnia-Herzegovina which, at least implicitly, adopt
a community development approach. These include an NGO working
in a deprived area of Zagreb with a large Roma population
and an international volunteer project in Gornji Vakuf,
a divided Croat-Bosnjak town in Central Bosnia, which combines
local social development and peace building. Questions are
asked about how such projects should be evaluated, and about
the balance between local, international NGO, and public
provision. The true community development social workers
in Croatia and Bosnia who are human rights activists, workers
in emerging women's groups, and so on, rather than those
with a Diploma whose role is primarily one of administrative
relief of poverty, individualistic work, and/or being the
servants of psychologists.
Jasmina Papa, Philip Peirce, and Goran Bo_ièeviæ
have all inspired me to explore the issues which this paper
addresses, and much more besides. Luka Papa Stubbs remains
the hope of, and necessity to struggle for, social justice
and human dignity.
The suggestion, from Hungarian sociologist Zsuzsa Ferge (1995),
that the collapse of state socialism in Central and Eastern
Europe came too late for the values of the left Enlightenment
or for socialism with a human face to challenge a wholesale
new right, free-market shift, has its parallels in the development
of different approaches to social work in the region. Community
development approaches, which entered into Western discourse
in the hiatus of 1968, and which were central to demands for
radical social work throughout the 1970s and early 1980s,
play only a marginal role in contemporary professional developments
in the region. The role of professionals, including social
workers, in times of transition, ethnicised nationalism and
war, has to be located in its historical and structural context.
Professionals are implicated, if only by their silence, in
many of the more problematic aspects of transition. Indeed,
as evidenced in Croatia and Bosnia, the uncomfortable fact
that some professionals have gained from individualizing,
psychologizing and medicalising the effects of war must be
In raising these
issues as a foreigner from Western Europe, I risk breaking
the taboo of the prism of cultural relativism through which
most discussions are refracted and distorted. A cultural relativist
perspective, however, is no less problematic than its converse,
cultural absolutism, in which an implicit or explicit 'West
is best' colonialism is applied to all 'Other' cultural phenomena
(Csepeli, Orkeny and Scheppele, 1996). The indisputable fact
that power relations structure all interactions between the
West and the East should not inhibit critical scholarship
and debate about power relations within the East between
professionals and their clients. What is needed is a greater
openness and willingness to acknowledge one's own value position
and, indeed, biography, and how this structures one's understandings
of, and commitments to, professional social work.
My own biases
clearly derive from involvement, from 1980 onwards, in radical
social work and critical social policy debates in the UK.
I trained as a social worker at the University of Warwick
in 1985 and was influenced greatly by Peter Leonard's continued
engagement with the possibilities of social work's involvement
in socialist change, and Lena Dominelli's work on feminist
and anti-racist social work (Corrigan and Leonard, 1978; Dominelli,
1988; Dominelli and McLeod, 1989). My PhD, (Stubbs, 1988),
and much of my published writing on anti-racist social work
(Stubbs, 1985, 1987), tended to approach social work as a
set of professional ideologies and practices, from a sociological
perspective, much as one would approach other complex power
Paulo Freire, 19 September 1921 to 2 May 1997;
My skepticism about the role which social workers tended to
play in relation to radical change, led me to the literature
on community organizing of Saul Alinsky and, even more, to
Paulo Freire's work on oppression and liberation (Freire,
1972). Working from 1993 onwards in Croatia, Slovenia and
Bosnia-Herzegovina deepened my commitment to community development
and critical social policy more than it did my belief in professional
social work per se. This article does not purport to be the
whole story, nor does it pretend to understand the complex
historical underpinnings of social work in the region. Instead,
it presents a particular argument, probably taken too far,
in order to explore options for different forms of social
praxis less willing to tolerate the intolerable.
THE PSYCHO-SOCIAL ORTHODOXY
Ten years of involvement in the theory and practice of social
work in the UK did not prepare me for the orthodoxy of psycho-social
work, the dominant frame for all projects in response to the
effects of the wars in Croatia and Bosnia, which greeted me
on my arrival in Croatia in May 1993. Much of my subsequent
work has been an attempt to understand the phenomenon, critique
it, and suggest alternatives. What became very clear was that,
the term psycho-social, describing a complex relationship
between individual and collective experiences, was a misnomer.
Instead, what was being offered was a particular psychological
reading of the effects of war, framed in terms of a crude
understanding of war trauma or PTSD, in which a social perspective,
and hence social workers themselves, played only a residual
role at best (Stubbs and Soroya, 1996).
to explain the phenomenon, at least in Croatia, I tried to
piece together a number of different pieces of the jigsaw.
The only social work training programme at University level,
year Diploma in Social Work in the School of Social
Work in the Law Faculty of the University of Zagreb, did not
have its own Masters and Doctoral tracks. Hence, those
who taught social work and contributed to its vision came
from other disciplines; their backgrounds were in psychology
and defectology. The discipline of defectology, as a science
of measuring 'deviance' from 'normal' functioning, no longer
has influence in the West, just as the term 'invalid' to describe
people with disabilities has also long been rejected (Oliver,
1990). The continued promotion of these terms trouble me,
and as is all language, seems indicative of wider social processes.
The dominant discourse
within social work practice was a classic pathology models
in which a sub-group of people are seen as different at best,
and inferior at worst. Energy is spent on classification,
measurement, and treatment of this individual disorder rather
than looking for wider social causes and solutions. Indeed,
it is only since having a small baby, and confronting the
self-image of experts in white coats, that I have come to
understand the importance of a professional identity as a
kind of social status. I have started to ask questions about
the importance of this identity under the old system, recognizing
that the nature of professional ideology under different kinds
of socialism is an under researched subject. It would suit
the regime, and its class of professionals, to conspire together
to argue that there were no social problems and that anti-social
phenomena basically lay in individual pathology. The way in
which this thinking has adapted to the new situation, to maintain
professional power and privilege, is an important part of
the psycho-social story.
What is less often
realized is the fact that, throughout the 1980s, mainly in
Slovenia but also in Croatia, particularly Zagreb, there was
a kind of radical mental health movement, concerned with personal
growth, gestalt therapy, encounter groups, and so on, which,
in its refusal to equate personal life with politics, a kind
of anti-social celebration of the self, fitted into an oppositional
movement, if only by default. This group also had international
links although it is interesting how much these tended, in
Croatia, to over-intellectualise and theorize aspects of anti
psychiatry rather than to construct innovative practices,
as happened in Slovenia, where there were links with the radical
mental health movement in Italy (Zavir and Flaker, 1994).
Whilst the denial
of the social in the current context has served to continue
to emphasise only the psychological dimension of suffering,
it has also opened the door to a wider range of therapies
and approaches than might otherwise have occurred. Often,
divergent approaches to psycho-social work co-exist in the
same project, with the more progressive elements benefiting
workers rather than users of services, and being used rhetorically
to gain funding from diverse sources. This professionalizing
of radical psychology is also an important phenomenon, given
that there has been no connection whatsoever with radical
social work. It has also been important in asserting that
groupwork approaches are of immense importance in social work
with people who have been through war stressors and, indeed,
The third element
of the oft-repeated axiom that social work is work with individuals,
groups and communities, has been least able to assert its
value. There are a number of reasons for this. Community work
is the most fully social of all of the approaches, is seen
to be too close to dreaded social planning, and is therefore
often equated with socialism and, seen as bad. Some noted
proponents of community development approaches in the 1980s
have switched their political allegiance so that they now
support the notion of a national community as a central organizing
feature of society. Often, this has co-existed with a retreat
into an esoteric philosophical understanding of social work
so as not to soil one's hands with day-to-day social work
practice. Others see the Catholic Church base of social work
as a more desirable starting point. The irony is that there
would have been little problem in professionalizing community
development approaches, and splitting communities between
good/normal and bad/pathological, and this is not lost on
a smaller number of intellectuals who are now beginning to
advocate this approach much more.
The meeting between
an emergency-based international response to the effects of
war, through humanitarian aid agencies, and this professional
base explains the massive proliferation of psycho-social projects
in Croatia and Bosnia, from 1992. These attracted huge funds
which, for local intellectuals who formed their own NGOs (the
Zagreb-based Society for Psychological Assistance being
the most prominent), and professionals who were able to work
on a contractual basis, represented at worst, a way of offsetting
the huge insecurity and loss of income which war produced
and, at best, became lucrative private enterprises masquerading
as non-profit organizations (Stubbs, 1995).
There is no justification
for denying the huge suffering which these projects sought
to respond to, nor the progressive nature of many of their
international supporters concerned to link trauma with the
oppression of women and children, and to broad human rights
issues (Agger, 1995). In arguing that people have been reduced
to cases, expressions of hurt to symptoms, and processes of
healing to treatment (Stubbs and Soroya, 1996), our concern
has always been with the labeling and the pathologising response
rather than with any denial of hurt nor minimizing of the
importance of meeting more than basic survival needs. Estimates
of huge numbers of people suffering from trauma, based on
very dubious methodology (Agger, Buus Jensen and Jacobs, 1995),
served only to perpetuate the power of the expert definers,
tended to be by-passed in the new fashion for creating non-governmental
organizations (NGOs), some of which became very powerful,
at the expense of their users, and most of which proved unsustainable
and simply disappeared. As a result, there has been little
emphasis on changing the dominant attitudes and values of
professionals within public services. Also, trauma became
the defining shape so that poverty, human rights abuses, lack
of access to employment, and so on became issues which could
wait or were sidelined to other agencies.
From late 1993
onwards, Nina Peènik, a psychologist and lecturer in
social work, and I, were seeking to explore these issues in
forms relevant to the Croatian NGO Suncokret (Peènik,
Soroya, and Stubbs, 1994; Peènik and Stubbs, 1995).
We were hugely over-optimistic in our assessment of Suncokret's
abilities to adapt and change into a social development organization.
We tended to underestimate the effects of receiving huge income
precisely to undertake psycho-social work, the professional
self image of psychologists and social workers within the
hierarchy and, the real problems of changing realities including
the Croat-Muslim war in Bosnia in 1993, and military interventions
in Croatia in 1995 (Stubbs, 1996a).
Our attempt to
contrast the key features of development projects with those
of psycho-social projects (see Table 1) emphasized the way
in which the latter tended to promote dependency rather than
self-help, growth, and empowerment, however much these terms
crept into the psycho-social discourse. The analysis as a
useful critique of 'psycho-social projects' much more than
it provides an alternative model, despite our attempt to discuss
this in terms of three elements: peace-building, integration,
and social awareness and social action.
Features of Psycho-social and Development Projects
for workers not users
by experts not communities
from community needs
Self - maintaining
elite: foreign experts - unnacountable local experts-accelerated
promotion and salary
from Peènik and Stubbs, 1995; 38).
OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
There was little sense, then, that we were seeking to outline
the alternative, in terms of community development; we did
understand from where this alternative model might derive.
Now, I would define community development as locally-based
strategies which promote equal opportunities and social justice
and which enhance the dignity of human beings and assist them
in regaining control over their lives (Mayo and Craig,
1995; and Bosnjak, 1994). Power relations, however these are
conceptualized, are central to this approach, as is the implication
that people experience oppression as members of a community.
This community need not be spatially defined-ethnicity, gender,
disability, sexual orientation, age, and so on, may be salient
identifiers. The implication, however, is that collective
responses to collective problems are as valid, if not more
so, than individualized therapies or small group work.
The role of a
professional community development worker also varies according
to different approaches, as does the nature and understanding
of the politicization of this role. These debates can be understood
in terms of a continuum with community politics at one end,
various kinds of community organizing in the middle, and community
development at the other end. Viewed in this way, one could
argue, at least in Croatia, that the absence of community
development workers has left grassroots community politics
and community organizing in the hands of two powerful groups--the
ruling nationalist party/social movement, (HDZ), and the Catholic
Church. The rise of a new (or perhaps old and revitalized)
community development profession could be a progressive change
in this context. Debates about the role of professionals in
local community development projects, in particular whether
they functioned as agents to cool out demands from oppressed
groups, tended to erode the legitimacy of the many community
development projects which grew up in 1970s Britain, and those
projects associated with the War Against Poverty in the USA.
have arisen in the social development literature concerned
with the rise of participatory projects in countries of the
so-called Third World. Stated crudely, it has been argued
that small-scale, grassroots projects emphasizing user participation
have distracted attention from the wider structural context
of exploitation and global social relations, in particular
the livelihood- (and sometimes even life-) threatening imposition
of Structural Adjustment Programmes by the World Bank and
the International Monetary Fund (Mayo and Craig, 1995). In
many ways, these debates distract attention from the many
and varied levels at which oppression is lived and experienced,
and reduce complex arguments about strategies and approaches
to a crude either/or model. The extensive experience from
Western countries and from developing countries, remain highly
pertinent to the development of a value-base for community
it is to processes within Central and Eastern Europe, in their
diversity and complexity, that an impetus for new approaches
to community development can be found. Insofar as community
development is premised upon a redefinition of the relation
between the public and the private spheres, it is a close
relative of the civil society movements which grew up in the
1980s in many state socialist countries and were, in fact,
central to the revolutions of 1989 (Prins, 1990). The need
to encourage active citizen involvement, from below as it
were, remains no less important in the complex processes of
post-socialist transition (Verderey, 1996) which have produced
economic insecurities, new forms of state authoritarianism,
popular racisms, and a rejection of many civic values (Ferge,
1995; UNICEF, 1994).
The dominant form
of post-socialist civil society in Central and Eastern Europe
appears to be the rise of voluntary organizations, often termed
non-governmental organizations (NGOs), or non-profit organizations
(NPOs). These organizations 'act as a third force to ameliorate
and control the forces of both the economy and the state'
(Osborne and Kaposvari, 1996), by promoting active citizenship
and civil rights. However, there are dangers that they are
becoming a new elite which fails to connect with the needs
and demands of oppressed groups at the local level (Szelenyi,
This is not a
simple either/or dichotomy. The need for strong civil associations
able to intervene in public policy (Bosnjak, 1997) is totally
compatible with the importance of local community development
initiatives working with those such as Roma groups who have
gained little, and in many cases, lost greatly, in the transition.
Zavirsek's model of social innovation in Slovenia, exemplified
in mental health work, and work with women (Zavirsek, 1995),
offers a basis for a new paradigm in Central European social
work close to a community development model which, in many
countries although not Croatia, is influencing the direction
of social work training (Stubbs, 1996b).
is primarily an approach and an attitude and not a set of
hard and fast rules which can be applied in all situations
and all cultures. It resists strongly the search for technical
solutions and certainties, whilst acknowledging that certain
skills and competencies are most likely to promote successful
community development. A key feature would be the need to
combine an emphasis on process issues with those of
strategy and outcome. Cumulative experience
of the balance between different components is, however, more
useful than a blue print imported from elsewhere.
A number of international
agencies began to for precisely such a blue print as the critique
of 'psycho-social projects' aided, incidentally, by their
lack of demonstrable effects and their undoubtedly high costs,
began to have an impact. The fact that I suggested that this
could not be done, that the processes of establishing a community
development initiative had to be slow, carefully planned,
and involve listening to the local community at all stages,
meant that my approach was seen as less useful than other
foreign experts all too eager to push their own formulae.
It is very difficult
for psycho-social projects to transform into community development
projects as many are seeking to do as they realize that this
is the new trend area of provision, albeit with considerably
reduced resources available. The main reason for this is the
legacy of professional power and the stigmatizing features
of many such projects.
The growth of
trauma centers, counseling centers, mobile clinics, and so
on, all of which require the acceptance of a label by users
and putting oneself in the hands of an expert, cannot simply
be transformed into community centers. Stigmatizing provision
is anathema to a community development approach which suggests
that people are willing and able to support each other and
that human beings learn and develop precisely through their
different needs, skills, and interests. This is not to deny
that some individuals may need specialist psychological help;
many community projects have experienced problems precisely
because of their failure to acknowledge this.
it is possible to sketch out a framework for local community
development relevant to countries experiencing post-communist
transition, new forms of ethnicised nationalism, conflict,
and mass forced migration. Four key dimensions of this framework
(Mimica and Stubbs, 1996; 287-8) can be adapted and developed
development which facilitates skills retraining and access
to labour markets for marginalised groups including refugees
and displaced persons, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities,
women, etc. The possibility of community-based loans and credit
schemes could be a key part of this.
and conflict resolution which attempts to build/rebuild relationships
of trust between different groups who have been, are, or may
be in conflict with each other.
legal, social and human rights of refugees and displaced persons
whilst seeking to promote integrative provision which breaks
down a sense of competition between local and migrant communities
participation by empowering people for self-organisation in
order to articulate their needs and become active in creating
the policies of local, national, and even international institutions.
This by no means
exhausts the range of issues and themes which might be important:
however, it does provide a way into understanding and discussing
existing projects in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina and prospects
for the future.
INITIATIVES IN BOSNIA AND CROATIA
A number of projects in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina adopt,
at least implicitly, a community development approach. Indeed,
in the context of the lack of implementation of the refugee
return provisions in the Dayton peace agreement (Dayton, 1995),
a network of legal advice centers is being developed throughout
Bosnia-Herzegovina which may form the nucleus of a community
development movement. A project in the city of Banja Luka,
now in the Serbian entity of Bosnia-Herzegovina, is also involved
in a range of initiatives which resemble community development
(Stubbs, 1997). I will focus on two very different initiatives
Prijatelj Projekt in Kozari Bok/Put, Zagreb, and the
UNOV Project in Gornji Vakuf, Central Bosnia. Discussing their
aims and objectives, methods of working, and problems encountered
may help to make concrete the theoretical treatise of the
is an example of a local, Croatian, NGO which took over the
work of an international organization, Immigration and
Refugee Services of America (IRSA), and sought explicitly
to move away from a psycho-social focus towards community
development objectives in a deprived part of Zagreb inhabited
by local poor, refugees, and a significant Roma population.
Its mission is to support and motivate members of the
community towards self-help and community development, thereby
promoting creativity, confidence, choice, opportunity, mutual
tolerance and respect.
of Kozari Bok and Kozari Put did not directly experience violent
conflict in the war. They have been forgotten and remain underserved
at best, and oppressed at worst, by all manner of official
agencies. The competition for resources between older and
younger people, long-standing residents and newcomers, between
different ethnic and religious groups; and so on, is acute
in an area where many settlements are impromptu and there
is a lack of infrastructural services, including water and
electricity, for many households only a 20 minute tram ride
from the centre of Zagreb.
Working from a
community centre which is, in fact, the old community hall,
the project offers a range of sporting, educational and artistic
activities, targeted primarily at children and young people.
In addition, the community worker plays a key role in encouraging
and supporting the development of self-help groups within
the community, including a women's group, a proposed youth
council and, most significantly, a local association of Roma.
Other possibilities for the future include collaborative projects
with local institutions such as the school, health centre,
and Centre for Social Care.
The Project faces
many dilemmas which are difficult to address constructively
given the lack of guidance on community development from writers
and practitioners within Croatia. Indeed, given the ruling
party's over politicization of community issues and President
Tudjman's naming of George Soros, whose Open Society Foundation
is one of Prijatelj's funders, as an enemy of Croatia,
the project's room for manoeuvre is severely limited. Nevertheless,
it was able to be involved in orchestrating press coverage
in which a group of residents were able to articulate their
opposition to a plan to demolish their houses which had been
built without permission. In addition, it faces a shortage
of resources so that it is, in fact, in danger of competing
with the Association of Roma and other local organizations
which it should be in a position to support. Its main funder
is the US NGO IRC Umbrella Grant which approaches NGO
development through a US-based, colonialist, model and, in
any case, will only be involved in Croatia for one more year.
The UNOV Gornji
Vakuf Project began in 1995 and was, in many ways, a larger-scale
version of the pioneering Volunteer Project, Pakrac,
which was an innovative collaboration between the United Nations
Office, in Vienna and the Antiwar Campaign, Croatia in a town
in Croatia divided by an official cease-fire line (Minnear,
1995). A long-term international volunteer from Pakrac was
specifically recruited to implement a new project in Gornji
Vakuf, a town in Central Bosnia which was the site of intense,
and bitter, fighting between Bosnjak/Muslim/Bosnian Government
forces and Croat/HVO forces between January 1993 and February
An invisible cease
fire line still divides the town, with parallel political
and administrative structures on the Croat (so-called Herceg-Bosna
) and Muslim sides, despite the existence of a Croat-Muslim
Federation derived from the Washington agreements of March
1994. Few people exercise their right to move freely and there
remain large numbers of people displaced from their homes
on either side. The economic imbalance between the Croatian
side, to all intents and purposes integrated into Croatia
proper, and the Bosnjak side, is very apparent.
as inextricably linked to social and community development
(Pugh, 1995), long-term foreign volunteers worked with local
people on physical reconstruction and a range of social programmes
responding to real needs, and working at the community's own
pace to re-establish communication, trust and joint programmes.
An explicit aim, clearly underpinned by Boutros Ghalli's conceptual
framework which first placed peace-building on the UN's agenda
(Ghalli, 1992), was to identify and support alternative community
leaders and civil society. The project seeks to undercut
the dominant political culture of polarization and division
(Shorr, 1996). A Youth Centre used by young people and staff
from both sides, and supported by the International NGO UMCOR,
was built and successfully operated with formal political
approval which followed extensive efforts to build local support.
Key intellectuals and professionals from both sides represent
an important constituency which the Project has cultivated
Three local NGOs
are in the process of being registered, in the fields of physical
reconstruction, youth work, and women's income generating
activities. Whilst it could be argued that these are little
more than artificial constructions of the Project, and reflect
the current fashion for NGO work, they link
directly to the
fact that municipal structures do not function. Moreover,
the plan is to continue to support these independent NGOs
and seek to ensure that their processes model good governance
in the wider public sphere.The Project cannot be accused of
abandoning such alternative leaders (Duffield, 1996). This
is in sharp contrast to the broadly pessimistic picture of
NGO development in Bosnia-Herzegovina which is weak
and fragmented, and is largely the creation of external donors
and International NGOs in a hurry (Smillie, 1996).
It is in deconstructing
and reconstructing what is meant by local that the project
has perhaps had its greatest impact. In sponsoring a local
language training workshop in peace building for activists
from all over the Federation, led by members of the Anti-war
Campaign, Croatia, the Gornji Vakuf Project began to pose
important questions regarding the viability of a regional
approach to civil society development in ways which other
agencies, operating from a top-down, Sarajevo-based, perspective,
were talking about but failing. Mentoring from within this
network, and from women's groups and other Bosnian NGOs, clearly
led to the emergence of skilled local people, including teachers
engaged in social mobilization, posing key questions regarding
the lack of functioning social and educational services.
The success of
the Project in influencing the UN's agenda can also be seen
by an external evaluation, carried out for the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP) in Autumn 1996. Initially skeptical
of the volunteer approach, the evaluation team recommended
increased funding for the project and an extension of the
approach to other parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina. In some ways,
this represents the greatest challenge for the broad approach,
since it is clearly largely incompatible with a technical
approach to community development. In some quarters the project
is already being criticized for having abandoned its grassroots
approach. The need to clarify concepts and terms becomes all
the more apparent and necessary. The absence of legitimation
of the approach from intellectual circles within Bosnia-Herzegovina
is the greatest liability and threat to the sustainability
of a community approach to peace-building.
The need to develop
criteria for evaluation of community development projects
and, in particular, to ensure that participatory evaluation
is a central feature, is a key issue which is being addressed
in both projects. User involvement in projects has to be seen
as central rather than being a nice 'add on' which can be
jettisoned at will. In addition, in a competitive funding
climate, it is difficult for community-based work to adopt
a longer-term perspective, to work at the community's pace,
and to take time surveying local needs. These are increasingly
seen as expensive luxuries in an output obsessed, project
specific, funding environment. The failure of psycho-social
projects to go beyond crude, quantitative, evaluations, also
indicates their lack of sensitivity to the user dimension
and to the broad social impact of their work (Mimica and Stubbs,
1996). It could be that participatory processes within community
development projects could be an impetus for a user's charter
in more traditional social work projects.
issues concern the likely source of future funding and the
balance of provision between local and international NGOs
and public provision. Clearly, in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina,
a new welfare mix is far from being in place and, indeed,
its development has been seriously affected by the effects
of war. Such projects will remain a very marginal part of
welfare provision for the foreseeable future without local
professional legitimacy for community work.
VALIDATING COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT COMPETENCIES
The true community development social workers in Croatia and
Bosnia are human rights activists, workers in emerging women's
groups, and so on, rather than those with a diploma whose
role is primarily one of administrative relief of poverty,
individualistic work, and/or being the servants of psychologists.
A group of people, often interrupting their studies because
they felt a burning need to do something as the effects of
war became apparent, have had over five years experience in
a range of work which has given them a unique insight into
all aspects of social activism. The skills gap between this
group and those who continued to work in public services or
who completed their studies without volunteering with emerging
NGOs, is a major problem facing both societies in terms of
the development of professional competencies in the future.
Without some kind
of rapprochement between these two groups, underpinned by
a more solid literature, research, and teaching on community
development approaches, the danger of professionalism being
at the expense of oppressed groups remains. Without a renewed
of the importance of a pedagogy of and for the
oppressed, in which new social relations transcend the old
orthodoxies, social workers and educators will continue to
be part of the problem rather than part of the solution.
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