Chapter

The social dynamics of small communities

Richard Pugh and Brian Cheers

in Rural social work

Published by Policy Press

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9781861347213
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447303305 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/policypress/9781861347213.003.0002
The social dynamics of small communities

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The social dynamics of life in small communities impact upon people's lives, their problems, and their understandings of their difficulties, as well as their views about how these might be best addressed. Social work in rural communities may not be completely distinctive from practice in urban areas, such as housing projects or encapsulated ‘urban villages’. However, because small communities are where most rural social work takes place, these social dynamics are likely to be more frequently encountered, which is why workers in rural areas need to develop an awareness of these factors and their potential significance. This chapter describes some of the key factors that operate in small communities, and shows why social workers might need to develop some understanding of gender roles, ideas of belonging and place, gossip, and social visibility and confidentiality. The latter part of the chapter looks at some of the important challenges facing workers who live and work within small communities, and draws on previously published work on dual relationships.

Keywords: social dynamics; small communities; rural communities; rural social work; social workers; gender roles; belonging; social visibility; confidentiality; dual relationships

Chapter.  8437 words. 

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