A community profile (as we use the term) is a description of a community
which does not include substantial discussion of theory. It is typically
a document produced for practical reasons. A community study includes
theoretical discussion or critical analysis about the community described.
Both are documents, which are documents which may inform, or be useful
to, a process of social change in the community. The are not part of
the change process per se. Community action research is a process in
which information gathering, learning about a community, critical analysis,
producing a profile or study and a process of social change can be integrated
into a single cyclical process.
Community action research is:
Participatory: it involves members of the community at all stages
of the research process.
Empowering: community members act on their own behalf.
Emancipatory: it involves action to make life better for members
of the community.
Learning: it involves participants learning or discovering new things
relevant to their own lives and situation;
Research: it involves the growth and publication of knowledge.
In a community action research project, a community profile or study
would be part of a process of change, and not an end in itself.
Briefly, in community action research an action group is formed
where most of the members of the action group are community members.
The action group works with other members of the community in
a social action process to bring about improvements which are desired
by community members. As part of this the action group and other participants
learn more about the community they are part of, engage in critical
dialogue, prepare an implement a plan for social change, and evaluate
the effects of their action.