Abstract: Personal and Community Resources: Differences between Community Activists from Different Cultures (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

17P Personal and Community Resources: Differences between Community Activists from Different Cultures

Thursday, January 16, 2020
Marquis BR Salon 6 (ML 2) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Haya Itzhaky, PhD, University Professor, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel
Lea Zanbar, PhD, Lecturer, Ariel University, Ariel, Israel
Background and Purpose

Community activists, supervised by macro-intervention social workers, can realize the potential to go from passive consumers of social services to producers of appropriate responses to the needs of their communities. While the literature describes the influence of religious and cultural characteristics on the effectiveness of such interventions, the question of whether there are differences in personal resources and community activity between activists from different cultures has yet to be investigated. This question has great implications, especially due to the fact that some of these populations (especially the one that was investigated in the current study) are in the margins of the society and suffer from alienation.


The sample consisted of 351 activists. The current study compared 163 community activists from the ultra-Orthodox sector in Israel, a traditional society, with 188 activists from the general population, examining personality traits defined in the literature as critical for community activists (self-esteem, mastery), aspects of community activity (client-participation, representation, level of activity), and outcomes of community activity (dimensions of well-being).


The findings reveal significant differences between the two groups, with higher levels of most personal and community variables found among the activists from the general population. This is consistent with the literature, and may be attributed to the insularity of the ultra-Orthodox sector, which is isolated from the society at large. Interestingly, despite the resource deficits in this community, its activists reported higher levels of personal well-being.

Conclusions and Implications

The findings have implications for researchers and practitioners. They indicate the importance of working closely with the leaders of traditional societies and designing unique methods of social work intervention to enhance the activists' personal resources and community characteristics, while maintaining cultural sensitivity. Additional practical recommendations for macro social workers will be provided.