Sociology Index


Community psychology is a perspective that analyses social problems, including crime, as largely a product of organizational and institutional characteristics of society. Community psychology is closely related to sociology, and deals with the relationships of the individual to communities and the wider society. Community psychologists study the quality of life in communities, society and individuals. Community psychology covers a broad range of settings and substantive areas. A community psychologist might find herself or himself in a variety of roles. There is a sense of vibrant urgency and uniqueness among community psychologists, as if they are as much a part of a social movement as of a professional or scientific discipline.

The Swampscott Conference in 1965 where several psychologists met to discuss the future of community mental health, is considered the birthplace of community psychology. A published report on the conference calls for community psychologists to be political activists, agents of social change and participant-conceptualizers. Community psychologists simultaneously emphasize both service delivery to the community and research on social environmental processes. Community psychologists focus, not just on individual psychological make-up, but on multiple levels of analysis.

Community psychology studies the individuals' contexts within communities and the wider society, and the relationships of the individual to communities and society. - Jim Orford, Community Psychology: Challenges, Controversies and Emerging Consensus, John Wiley and Sons, 2008.

Community psychology grew out of the community mental health movement, but evolved dramatically as early practitioners incorporated their understandings of political structures and other community contexts into perspectives on client services. - Levine, M., & Perkins, D.V. (1997). "Principles of Community Psychology (2nd Ed)" - Oxford University Press.

AN INTRODUCTION TO COMMUNITY PSYCHOLOGY, Douglas D. Perkins. Community psychology is fundamentally concerned with the relationship between social systems and individual well-being in the community context. In addition to the clinical and testing psychologists, with whom the public is most familiar, many people, at all levels of professional training, are entering a relatively new field called community psychology. One of the most exciting aspects of community psychology is that the field is developing rapidly and is still in the process of defining itself.

Community Psychology Books

Dalton, J.H., Elias, M.J., & Wandersman, A. (2001). "Community Psychology: Linking Individuals and Communities". Stamford, CT: Wadsworth.

Chavis, D.M., & Wandersman, A. (1990). Sense of community in the urban environment: A catalyst for participation and community development. American Journal of Community Psychology, 18(1), 55-81.

McMillan, D.W., & Chavis, D.M. (1986). Sense of community: A definition and theory.

Rappaport, J. (1977). "Community Psychology: Values, Research, & Action". New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

Riger, S. (1993). What's wrong with empowerment? "American Journal of Community Psychology", 21(3), 279-292.

Sarason, S.B. (1974). The psychological sense of community: Prospects for a community psychology. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Trickett, E. J. (1984). Towards a Distinctive Community Psychology: An Ecological metaphor for Training and the Conduct of Research. American Journal of Community Psychology, 12, 261-279.

Zimmerman, M.A. (2000). Empowerment Theory: Psychological, Organizational and Community Levels of Analysis. "Handbook of Community Psychology", 43-63.