The thesis of this paper is that community work can be understood in relation to the larger structure of society. Community work is seen in terms of observations on cases previously reported. These observations suggest a political model of community work. In that model, goals are short term task goals of program development aimed at social problem or disadvantaged groups. The model assumes conflict among groups which can be dealt with politically. Client systems are different than constituent systems in that model, and clients are weak participants in community work. Non-client voluntary associations can nonetheless influence program decisions. These model elements are explained in terms of pluralism and the dominance of business and big government in American society. Pluralism creates the potential for conflict, thus creating a need for political strategy and tactics in community work. Dominance of business and government in program decisions gives programs and their clients relatively low status. This low status makes empowerment of clients unlikely.

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