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Am J Community Psychol. 2007 Dec;40(3-4):272-89.

Community-based practices: integrating dissemination theory with critical theories of power and justice.

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  • 1University of Wisconsin-Madison, 530 Church Street, Madison, WI 48109, USA.


This paper critically reviews two diverse intellectual traditions concerned with community-based interventions: the literature on dissemination of community interventions and the critical psychology literature that is concerned with systemic power inequalities and structural injustice. The dominant dissemination-of-innovations framework has shifted toward an emphasis on community, yet it does not generally take into account issues of power and inequality within the diverse community spheres into which interventions are disseminated. On the other hand, critical psychologists, who have concerned themselves with both understanding and addressing issues of power and structural injustice, have tended to eschew the possibility of standardizing and making transferable practices, programs, and even processes that address these issues in particular settings. This paper traces and critiques both sides of this divide within community psychology, positing a framework to bring these diverse intellectual resources together so that community interventions might fruitfully be examined in terms of their community-based practices, or practices that bear on structural injustice. This framework is illustrated with a case study of the community-based practices of a widely disseminated evidence-based community intervention.

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