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Offensive, defensive and hidden communities


The last lecture of week one presented an alternative community typology:

(1) Offensive community: An offensive community is a socially healthy and vibrant community that is highly visible through community activities, festivals etc. It usually has an active middle class with both the time and the resources for community organizing. If changes are to be initiated in such communities, the local leadership has to be included and given the opportunity to take charge.

(2) Defensive community: A defensive community is more reactive than proactive, meaning that it reacts to certain problems but does otherwise not actively seek to improve itself. If changes are to be initiated in such communities, solutions have to come from outside.

(3) Hidden community: A hidden community is a community so poor, that poverty overshadows all other problems and that the daily fight for survival makes any form of community organization almost impossible. As a result, the community is barely visible as a community. If changes are to be initiated in such communities, interventions usually work best on a case-to-case or a household-to-household basis, since there is hardly any internal leadership that could support positive changes. It is very difficult to reach hidden communities or to initiate positive changes within them.

These lecture notes were taken during 2012 installment of the MOOC “Community Change in Public Health” taught by Prof. Dr. William R. Brieger of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health at Prof. Brieger blogs under and can be found on twitter as @bbbrieger.

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