Citizen participation in communities

“It takes a village to raise a child” was a quote I would hear a lot while I was growing up. I did not grow up in the best, or the worst neighborhood in Philadelphia. However I did grow up in a strong community, a neighborhood where we all knew and supported each other. I remember when my grandfather passed, and somehow the community came together to bring us dinner every night for two weeks while my grandmother brought herself together.

Although I did not live in the best community, there was no crime for about a 3 block radius all around. That may not seem much, but it gave us a comfortable setting to play outside, for families to be able to sit on their front steps and not have to worry.

I believe my community created this type of environment because of the citizen participation.

Citizen participation is defined as a process in which individuals take part in decision making in the institutions, programs, and environments that affect them (K. Heller et al., 1984, p. 339)

Our community did this, they held meetings, dinner parties, social media groups, and so much more to make sure we all were on the same page with everything that was going on and we stood strong on our community rules. This is an important quality that many communities are lacking.

The support and “community” that our children and next generation are lacking. This could also be in my opinion, the reason for crime rates going up. Our communities are not as strong as they should be.

I believe people need to begin getting more involved in their communities, get to know their neighbors, build relationships and community rules and respect each other.


Heller, K., & Mansbach, W. E. (1984). The Multifaceted Nature of Social Support in a Community Sample of Elderly Women. Journal of Social Issues40(4), 99–112. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-4560.1984.tb01109.x


  1. I think that you have a great point about community involvement as it relates to crime rates. With so much of our lives revolving around online communities nowadays, the geographical communities that we live in are starting to decline. The fact that people no longer see those in their physical community as actually part of it means that they could be emotionally distancing themselves from each other. This lack of emotional connection between them could potentially be diminishing the guilt that would go along with the crimes being committed. While virtual communities can be a great resource for some, such as those who are not physically capable of connecting with their community, the vast majority of people could be losing out on a vital sense of community by not integrating citizen participation.

  2. I am with you on this one! I think the increase of “virtual” commnunication has certainly impacted the freqency of actually being in the presence of others to build relationships and develop meaningful friendships. As we learned earlier in our course, the nature of email and text conversation can lead to a sense of disonnection and distance, not to mention misunderstandings related to content as context.

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