Barry N. Checkoway, PhD History from the University of Pennsylvania, is Professor of Social Work, School of Social Work, and Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. His research emphasizes community organization, community development, neighborhood development, community-based policy advocacy, participatory research, and evaluation.
Checkoway defines community development as:
“a process in which people join together to improve conditions and create change at the community level” (ii5) and “when people join together to develop programmes for improving the quality of life at the community level” (ii6).
He distinguishes between monoculture, pluralist, and multicultural community development, holding the latter acknowledges the various constituencies’ communication and collaboration amongst the groups. “There is nothing a priori to prevent community development workers from focusing on metropolitan areas, and on issues of diversity and segregation within them, although there is only patchy evidence of them doing so” (ii9).
So what would community development look like if it “were designed to strengthen diversity and challenge discrimination”? First, it would move away from the monocultural model, instead highlighting “difference and unity,” and in doing so modify all processes’ stages to capture each group’s own interests and the totality’s together. Second, evaluation would likewise have multiple approaches, theoretically and operationally (e.g. different priorities, languages). As such, the following “change agents” would be necessary: (1) leaders from each group, (2) professionals who see this as a field, and (3) “bridging persons” (ii10) who can communicate and operate across cultural lines. These individuals “have multiple social identities, communicate in more than one language, mediate among groups, and negotiate outcomes that would not be possible without them” (ii10).
And “representation will become a guiding principle” (ii11). Elements include: “descriptive representation,” recognizing the social qualities of the groups; “substantive representation,” underscoring the desire to speak to each group’s interests; “behavioral representation,” attending to making others recognize the group’s positions; and “mechanisms of accountability,” keeping or releasing groups based on performance.