Visitor Question: I am a student in the process of writing my thesis. My topic is Sense of Community and Community Development. I am in search of an instrument, and questionnaire that I can use. My Independent Variable is Sense of Community and my Dependent Variable is Community Development. I have been unsuccessful in obtaining a response for permission to use the instrument or questionnaire, survey. My question is can anyone help me? Your site was instrumental in giving me a lot of information consolidated in one place.
My contact information is mryswt at aol.com
Editors' Reply: Thanks for the compliment about our site. We do make it a practice not to do students' homework for them, but we will give you a few things to think about. Perhaps you'll be lucky and someone else will come along and give you an already written survey instrument about how sense of community affects community development, if it does.
You need to do a literature search (a search of published academic articles) to see if similar research has been conducted. You seem to imply that yes, there was some similar research, but the researcher would not allow you to use their questionnaire. If that is true, then study their work and think of ways to improve it, alter it significantly, and make it your own.
We thought the interesting part of this question was how you would define, quantify, and measure community development, and also sense of community.
In our collective opinion, all of the subject matter of this website constitutes community development.
So how would you measure how much community development you have? Wouldn't you have to break down community development into segments and then measure indicators such as employment, new housing units, housing condition, income, ratio between business start-ups and businesses ceasing to operate, number of code violation complaints, percentage of street lights not operating, crime against persons, and amount of walking on the sidewalk at certain times of the day?
You would have your own list, we're sure.
Then you have to think about how to define and measure sense of community. This is really less about physical indicators and countable items such as the ones we used as examples when discussing community development, and more related to attitude research. Do people feel a part of the community? How strongly do they feel here compared to other communities where they have lived?
Another way to think about sense of community that would be easier to count would be to look for indicators such as number and strength of community organizations, how many neighbors people know by name on average, and how loyal people are to neighborhood businesses. The last two examples could be measured by questionnaire.
Sense of community is strongly related to social capital, which has been written about extensively, and also to the idea of community attachment. You might want to read on those topics to think about a survey or questionnaire to use.
Many times a thesis writer must put together his or her own survey form, based on the clues offered by a good literature search. You can test hypotheses offered by other researchers, or form your own hypothesis based on academic articles or your own research conducted through counting some type of indicator in your own neighborhood.
OK, community development and urban studies professionals, it's time for your two cents. What should M be thinking about?
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