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Literature Review

People are social beings and they cannot live in isolation from the community. In fact, human socialization is an essential part of the development of any individual. At the same time, the life within the community is quite a complicated process that needs large social experience and the ability to use in such a way that an individual can get integrated in a community. In other words, social life is a natural need of any individual.
However, the life of a community is characterized by extremely complicated processes that need to be constantly researched and analyzed in order to better understand what actually goes on within the particular community. Obviously, the research of community life is also important to forecast its further development which cannot remain unchanged. In stark contrast, the life of any community is susceptible to permanent changes that influence its development and, thus, in order to understand the processes that take place in the concrete community and forecast its development it is necessary to apply effective methods of the research for community change. In this respect, the book “Research Methods for Community Change: A Project Based Approach” by Randy Stoecker may be very helpful.
Basically, the author analyzes practically all of the research methods for the community change. On summarizing all these methods of the research, Randy Stoecker argues that they are extremely important as they may be widely applied in community. According to the author, the methods he discusses in his book can numerous problems of modern communities, provide the development of their resources, which are getting to be more and more scarce in the modern world. What is even more important, it is necessary to underline that the research methods for community change can protect cultural identity of each member of the community in particular and the entire community at large. The latter is particular important in the modern world when the problem of the loss of national or cultural identity is one of the most serious problems modern communities face in the result of the process of globalization which not simply eliminates geographical, financial and other barriers but also affects dramatically national identity to the extent that communities gradually become alike or even homogeneous.
In his book, Randy Stoecker is basically focused on practically all methods that can be applied in a project-based research. Moreover, he develops an effective research model which can be easily applied in practice. In this respect, it should be said that his model includes four main components. First of all, Randy Stoecker believes that the first stage of the project-based research should start from diagnosing of a community condition. This is important to clear identification of the existing problem and assessment of the existing situation within a community.
The second stage or component of the model is prescribing an intervention for the condition. Practically, this means that the problems identified in the result of the analysis of the current situation should be solved somehow. Consequently, it is necessary to develop some recommendations as for their solution or as for the essential steps that have to be undertaking in the changing conditions of the life of a community.
The third component of his model is implementation of the prescription that is quite a logical step. Obviously, on developing certain recommendations or prescriptions concerning the management of changes within a community or solution of the existing problems, it would be logical to practically implement these recommendations.
And finally, Randy Stoecker argues that it is extremely important to carefully evaluate the impact of the steps that have been eventually undertaken in order to properly assess their impact on community. In fact, it is impossible to ignore the final stage since it actually implies the analysis of the results and outcomes of the researches and projects.
Furthermore, it should be said that the author constantly underlines that it is impossible to conduct a research without participation of the community. Moreover, Randy Stoecker insists on the large cooperation of researchers, community, and local authorities that can increase the effectiveness of the research substantially. At the same time, the collaboration between researchers and community is also essential since it contributes to the mutual understanding of researchers and community. To put it more precisely, the researchers can better understand the current situation, community’s problems and needs and make a reliable forecast or develop certain recommendations, while the community can learn whether the changes that occur are positive or negative and what could be done to make them rather positive than negative.
Also, it is worthy of mention that the book is based on the experience of the author and has a lot of practical examples drawn from real life that is really helpful for those who are interested in the problem of research methods for community change. Moreover, the examples as well as the model developed by Randy Stoecker and methods discussed in the book seem to be quite efficient and may be applied in different communities throughout the world since they are practically universal.
Another important remark, the author makes in his book is the idea that the project-based research methods and corresponding models are very significant to the community and development of democracy since the author insists that they help redistribute power and responsibility within the community.
Speaking about the structure of the book, it should be said that it is well-organized and it is important to point out that all theoretical information is delivered comprehensible and supported by a large number of practical examples based on the author’s experience. At the same time, the language of Randy Stoecker is quite plain and, consequently, the book can be easily understood by a wide range of readers. This is why the audience of the book may be very large from specialists to students and ordinary readers who are interested in the problems of community changes, their research and management, while humor and examples make the reading not only understandable but also pleasant.
Thus, it is possible to conclude that this book is really important not only from a scientific point of view but also as source of interesting and useful information for the large audience, including non-specialists.

1. Stoecker, Randy. Research Methods for Community Change: A Project Based Approach. New York, Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2005.


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