Tradition is a discipline with various meanings that are influenced by different philosophies and authors of the different theories. Tradition forms the future from the past hence Glassie, H argues that one must accept that history informs tradition, ”Tradition is a temporary concept, inherently tangled with the past, the future and history”. This discipline goes beyond customs and beliefs because it can include education, philosophies, theories, folklores etc, and it evolves. Tradition in the context of community development however refers to the methods, the practice, the approaches and the techniques a CDP has to posses for interventions to be successful.
Tradition according to Westoby, P is defined using three typologies namely Geographically define, methodologically orientated and intellectually – rooted. The geographical definitions of tradition according to my own understanding is describes the organisations, movements and groups of practice that have been longstanding, tied to a specific region meaning that in particular regions there are always those physical features that define them, that have always been there and when mentioned immediately the picture of that particular region comes to mind. The tradition however differs from the region focus to those of the universal span, meaning that the approaches are not the same when dealing with issues from a particular region and when dealing with those of a universal including both the rural and the urban areas.
The methodologically orientated tradition emphasizes the methods of mobilizing social change. This tradition was however used to refer to disciplinary professions such as Social Planning traditions but basically the traditions emphasises the usage of appropriate approaches and methods to develop communities for an example the bottom-up approach where community members are given the opportunity to be the primary actors of their own development, using dialogues as part of a participation process whereby the community members and workers communicate effectively and working together to attain a common goal, which is to bring about change and develop people.
The intellectually rooted tradition basically refers to the various histories that comprise the root of community development, for example philosophies. Tradition emanates from history therefore history gives birth to community development in a way that it triggers ideas of development. It also has to do with how one as a CDP behaves and responds to certain situations, individually.
Tradition is informed by history, because tradition forms the future from the past so it is important that one understand the history since history is the materials of the past that can be used to give new meanings to tradition and development, history can be used to vision the future, for example the history of the apartheid is and was used to mobilise change in South African, to try and create a better future for those who were affected during the apartheid era and uplift their standards of living even though history can be challenged by new evidence I still believe history plays a vital role in community development because it can be used trigger change and opportunities. Culture on the other hand plays a different role in the concept of community development, unlike history, culture does not change “culture is derived historically and cannot be changed” says Glassie but I don’t agree because since culture is a way of life influenced by beliefs, customs and passed from one generation to the next by the word of mouth some people don’t practise them believing culture is a myth so culture can be changed because it cannot be proven. Like Glassie, H mentioned, culture and tradition are created by individuals out of experience, they have reasons for their actions, and their actions can entail change hence I say culture can be changed.
Tradition in folklore is described as a vehicle to develop an individual psychologically, preparing one to be able to know themselves and still be able to interact with others, socialize. Tradition in folklore played a very important part in linking people, it created long term relationships amongst them and through communication knowledge was shared even though some believed they were superstitions and myths. The discipline acted as guides to bring order in societies and create a just society through the stories that were told since most of them were used to determine the wrong from right and acceptable behaviour and the unacceptable behaviour, it also played an important role in unity families and people of different believes and different attitude towards life which some were changed in the process because some stories were relevant to one’s current situation.
The intellectual and philosophical traces of tradition towards community work are from people-centred humanist traditions. The practice tradition encourages that community members should be the primary actors in their own development and dictate how change happens, they should be involved in every level of development for example from the implementation to decision making, beginning with the poorest and disadvantaged groups. Change is pursued through relationship and dialogue, meaning that participation is key, giving the people the power of making decisions and creating room for their perceptions as a CDP can go a very long way in a sense that the community will be able to be participate effectively with you.
Methods that can be used should include bringing new ideas to old forms, using that is already there to bring about change, identify opportunities in what you already have and bring about change, for example an old abandoned building can be renovated and be used as a church or school.
What links all the articles together is that they all speak of the various definitions of tradition, all emphasizing that tradition is static. They all link tradition to the discipline of community development in a sense that they further explain the different tradition approaches, methods and techniques. With regard to the geographical, the methodological and intellectual traditions, they can never be separated, they are inter- connected because with out the other the intervention is unsuccessful. The methodological tradition speaks of the methods to mobilise change in communities, that links to Ingamell’s reading where he mentioned the powers of participation, the power of decision making etc that alone can be used as an approach and a method to bring about change in communities as a CDP one will be working with because with out these powers the intervention will not be successful as it lacks the participation of the primary actors of development, being the community members. They all highlight the importance of the community’s participation and guide us as CDPs since they inform us about different traditions and the importance of history in tradition.
How is tradition important to the concept of community development?
It is very important for one to understand the concept of tradition in community development because it acts as a guideline and method to assist one to know where and when to apply different methods and what approaches to use, it facilitates the success and failure of the intervention or project. It helps find solutions regarding the issues faced in communities, it also helps build your sense of behaviour as an individual and encourages that CDPs should conduct their research before approaching communities like have background information about that particular community. Knowing the customs and beliefs of the community makes its easier for one to settle in a community because they know what is expected of them and what is not, as a CDP it is very important that you involve the community members in every level of development as to avoid unnecessary projects and to avoid that the community’s participation is needed so you have to open spaces for participation and use the bottom up approach. Lastly tradition is important to community development because it is an analytic tool that analyses community development.
In conclusion, tradition has several definitions but in the concept of community development it means having the knowledge of the methods, approaches, techniques and practice that guide you as a CDP when planning interventions. Tradition is defined differently by the different authors and through various examples, however tradition plays avital role in the context of community development since it gives guidance and the expectations of a CDP in the field work. Merging these traditions from different readings is very significant because it shows they all link and they all give different approaches to use as a CDP when approaching communities.
http://www.jstor.org/stable/541653Ingamell,A.(2010). Community Development Practice: Stories, Methods and Meaning. Griffiths University. Read chapter 1
Westoby, P&Hope-Simpson,G (2011) Re-thinking ‘tradition’ and community development practice: integrating Derrida’s ‘trace’ and Peile’s ‘creative synthesis’ into a reconceptualising of ‘traditions’ and community development practice, European Journal of Social Work