Psychological sense of community and its relevance to well-being and everyday life in Australia

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Pretty, Grace, Bishop, Brian, Fisher, Adrian and Sonn, Christopher ORCID: 0000-0002-6175-1030 (2007) Psychological sense of community and its relevance to well-being and everyday life in Australia. Australian Community Psychologist, 19 (2). pp. 6-25. ISSN 1320-7741


Sense of community is a concept that has considerable currency within a vast range of disciplines and practices. It serves as a criterion for the assessment of social capitol; the generation of social policies; the development of social and geographical communities; and the evaluation of community capacity building. Community psychologists consider it central to their value-based praxis in promoting social justice and social change. However it is also employed as a common lay term to refer to feelings of belonging, identity and support. It occurs in public domain discourse such as reporting community response to disaster, promoting the value of a rural lifestyle, and advertising urban residential developments. For psychologists, and other professionals and policy makers, there is the real need to consider the processes that are inherent in living in a community, in providing services and interventions, in understanding processes of inclusion and exclusion, with resultant positive or negative impacts on mental and physical health. Because sense of community discourses are utilised for such diverse purposes, this paper is written for multiple constituencies with a view to encouraging and informing its use in collaborative efforts to develop and sustain healthy Australian communities. We present an overview of its multidisciplinary theoretical origins and the more recent empirical foundations of quantitative and qualitative assessment methods. We then suggest ways in which this theory and research informs and progresses several challenges within Australian community culture, from the broad context of health, to specific population subgroups including diverse cultures, immigrants and youth, and to specific issues such as natural resource management and building the social coalition for government sponsored program delivery. While providing a resource for researchers and practitioners, the paper also critically examines the work yet to be done to position sense of community as an empirically sound and culturally sensitive psychological construct.

Item type Article
Official URL
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1608 Sociology
Historical > FOR Classification > 1701 Psychology
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Social Sciences and Psychology
Historical > SEO Classification > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding
Keywords ResPubID13290, sense of community, social justice, social change, processes of inclusion and exclusion, sustaining healthy Australian communities, diverse cultures, immigrants, youth, natural resource management
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