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Using Interpretivism To Assess The Links Between Community Structure And Individual Well-Being

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 0

The article, Making the links between community structure and individual well-being: community quality of life in Riverdale, Toronto, Canada is a very sensible article.  It is about the study of focus groups, where the members of a community are interviewed to get an understanding of the community structures and the individual well-being.  It involves the examination of the aspects of the community which affect their quality of life.  It discusses the World Health Organization and how the health of the individuals in communities is influenced by their everyday lives and the services they are open to within their community.  The authors studied the research question through an interpretivism research paradigm; it understands how people create and maintain their social worlds through a detailed observation of people in natural settings.  The main idea of this article is the health and well-being of citizens, which includes different approaches such as the community structures and the quality of life.   

How Community Structures Affect The Well-Being

Community structures help maintain the health and well-being of individuals by providing for them.  For example, the community structures may involve local services, healthy food, affordable housing, and public transportation.  Political decision making plays an important role and supports the establishment of improving health conditions in community structures.   As well as the quality of life approach, which was employed to bring forth the beliefs of the members of the community on how their aspects of life support or do not support their health.  At the same time, the approach recognizes that how these structures are interpreted by individuals will determine the effects these structures have on human behaviour.  It directs attention to how these factors affect individuals’ lives by considering whether and how basic human needs are being met within a community.  It includes three components, which are being, belonging, and becoming.  The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as the ability to have and reach goals, meet personal needs, and cope with everyday life; it is a framework that shows the non-medical determinants of health.  WHO states that important health determinants are social status and income differences, stress, food, social support, transport, and unemployment; this were defiantly issues impacting health and well-being.  Community resources such as community centres, service agencies, and churches which provided means of maintaining and developing social connections are very important in sustaining one’s well-being. 

What The Researchers Were Looking For-Their Primary Goal

After studying the community quality of life and gathering the idea that the concept is used to explore factors seen by participants as influencing health, the following statement was recapitulated, “Being healthy involves more than avoiding being ill. Being healthy is being able to cope with life. We are interested in community and neighbourhood factors which affect health. These may involve how people within a community interact or the opportunities for employment and recreation. For many, an important factor may be the services which are available”.  The primary goal of the researchers were to see how the health of the members of the community was affected by factors such as their age, income, if they where new citizens, and where they live.  The researchers studied the community quality of life by splitting people into five groups by their age and how long they have been in Canada; each participant was individually interviewed.  One main question that was asked is: What is it about Riverdale that makes life good for you and the people you care about? What is it about Riverdale that does not make life good for you and the people you care about? All of the interviews and focus group discussions where tape recorded and used to make notes.  The study was able to confirm that community structures such as service agencies and organizations or supports such as housing and income were seen as important to health by study participants.    

Can Someone Feel Good When Living In A Broken-Down Community?

I believe that this is a loaded question, and can be answered either way. However, I believe that people have the ability to feel really good about themselves while living in a broken down community. There is no doubt that it will be much harder to feel good when in a broken down community than in a well-structured community; however, it is still entirely possible,

Think about all of the musical artists that grew up in broken down homes and communities, yet, still made it to the millionaires club after producing a few hit singles. Not only do they appreciate the fact that they came from unstructured homes and communities, but they also place emphasis on the fact that it actually made them stronger people. It is completely possible to live in an unstructured community, and feel good about yourself...you just have to possess the strength to look past the present, and into the future; this is a skill that not many people possess!

To Sum It Up

In conclusion, people living in Riverdale may encounter problems from time to time; however, they still wish to live there because of the presence of the community support and the structure and activities that are provided to those people.  Poverty and low income affects the individuals’ physical well-being by firstly denying access to healthy foods, and secondly, their psychological well-being though feelings of lack of control and independence, by limiting their ability to participate in activities that require payment.  The authors did a good job investigating the research questions since they used an effective research method.  I believe it is possible to use any one of the research paradigms depending on which way you study the question, however I would definitely use the same one the authors have used.  Interviewing the individuals and discussing their way of living with them, listening to how they all relate to one another and analysing the data you collected.  There was a successful outcome using the interpretivism research paradigm; there is certainly a clear understanding of the affects between the community structure and individuals’ health and well-being that are part of the community.  



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