Shaping community inclusion requires a better understanding of “community”

By Rawad Mcheimech

Mcheimech, R. (2014). Shaping community inclusion requires a better understanding of “community”. CRECS Ten Minute Window, 2(1)

“Community” is a broad term used extensively in the academic peer reviewed literature without a consensual definition. This is insufficient to inform the development of policies and services supporting the inclusion of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in their communities. The definitions of “community” used in published studies found in the peer-reviewed scientific literature were compared to identify common themes. Focus groups were also conducted which consisted of four persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their “community” members. They reported their own definitions of “community”. The literature review identified 10 common themes and 3 uncommon themes. “Unpaid” was a novel theme identified through a definition reported in the focus groups. The study proposes a definition of “community” using the common themes and concluded that definitions are relative, change with time, and could include contradictory themes (e.g. physical proximity vs. territory-free).

See the video on CRECS Youtube Channel.

Keywords: Research, Community Services, Social Services

About the Author:

This video presents the findings from Rawad Mcheimech’s Honours thesis on the definition of “community”. This thesis has been submitted to the School of Psychology at the University of Ottawa in 2014, and supervised by Virginie Cobigo, Assistant Professor and Director of IDeA for Inclusion. This research is also part of the work of the Multidimensional Assessment of Providers and Systems (MAPS: MAPS, a research program led by Hélène Ouellette-Kuntz, Associate Professor at Queen’s University, aims to inform quality improvement in services for Ontarians with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Further Reading

Cobigo, V., & Stuart, H. (2010). Social Inclusion and Mental Health. Current Opinion in  Psychiatry, 23(5), 453-457. doi:10.1097/YCO.0b013e32833bb305

Moje, E. B. (2000). Critical Issues: Circles of Kinship, Friendship, Position, and Power:Examining the Community in Community-Cased Literacy Research. Journal of Literacy Research, 32(77), 77-112. doi:10.1080/10862960009548065

World Health Organization. (2010). Empowerment Component Community-Based Rehabilitation CBR Guidelines. Geneva: WHO Press.


This work is based on a study that was undertaken as part of a larger program of research on the Multidimensional Assessment of Providers and Systems (MAPS; supported by a research grant from the Government of Ontario’s Ministry of Community and Social Services. The views expressed are not necessarily the views of all researchers, collaborators, or those of the funder.

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