Inferring Australian children's sense of community: A critical exploration
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Psychology
Sense of community (SOC) has been found to be a predictor of adult well-being and psychological health. Recent research has begun to explore adolescents' SOC. However, there is a dearth of research on the meaning children attach to their community and the development of their SOC, despite its potential for providing an understanding of important aspects of children's lives. Conversational interviews were conducted in schools with 46 children aged from 9 to 12 years. The results were analysed using an unfolding strategy. The findings indicate that for children, understandings of community focus on the relationships shared with the significant others central to their experience of childhood--family, friends, and neighbours, consistent with Bronfenbrenner's ecological framework. Children also described community in terms of environment, both built and natural. Further exploration of the children's understanding of community yielded insights into the role of activities, interactions, good and bad aspects of community and problem solving in their understanding of community. The implications of the research are discussed in terms of programme planning at the individual and systemic levels.