Background: Although the social service needs of rural residents were higher than those of urban areas, there was controversy over the lack of social welfare service resources in rural areas in Korean society. Rural residents in general have higher demands on social services, while the services they receive are limited. Utilizing existing community halls and resources became highly significant to improve accessibility of social services of population living in rural area. According to the Resource mobilization theory, the ability to utilize resources is highly associated with a success of the organization.
The purpose of this study is to investigate the role of community hall as a rural social service hub in South Korea. To discussions on resource utilization in rural areas, this paper aims to discuss the possibility of using town halls as a social welfare service hub.
Methods: In this paper, the definition of the role and function of the community hall in rural area was established and compared with the concept of the social service hub. Three cases of community halls were analyzed from 465 cases (298 cases from news articles, 167 cases selected as the successful cases from Rural Areas Information Service (RAISE) statistics) based on five categories of the Resource mobilization theory (moral resources, cultural resources, social-organizational resources, material resources, and human resources). After reviewing 10 cases based on the evaluations and scorings of the five categories above from three researchers, finally 3 cases have been selected for the case analysis. The five subcategories of resource mobilization theory were scored according to the same percentage of scores each, and in the case of a tie, the case was selected for a longer period.
Results: All three high-scoring cases had five common elements. First, these success stories all offered a variety of services, such as culture, education programs, and family-linked service etc., in a geographic area. Secondly, it played a role in solving local problems such as the aging of local members and vulnerable social groups in the community. Third, local members voluntarily developed various programs and activities. In addition, these successful cases have sought to acquire and develop individual skills, such as poetry writing programs, lifelong learning programs, and making plays that express the lives of the elderly as plays. Lastly, these cases all provided activities for the underprivileged in the region, such as helping the elderly living alone and helping the health-vulnerable in connection with the fire department. More attentions on utilizations of the existing community halls is needed to increase the accessibility of a social service and qualities in rural area.
Implications: Based on the case study, the role and implications of the community hall are to be considered as social service hub. Through selection and analysis of three cases of the community hall utilization in rural area, this study identifies and provide opportunities to improve quality of lives of residents in rural area and increase accessibility of social services.