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Effective Community Action

Addressing the imperatives arising from the Covid Pandemic in the UK has resulted in high levels of localised community action as individuals embraced voluntarism both as a means of providing support to those in need and ensuring that the National Health Service had the resources to implement an unprecedented vaccine programme. However, as restrictions on social interaction are to be lifted and replaced with the notion of "personal responsibility to others" it is timely to consider the pre-dispositions that should govern our values, attitudes and behaviours when we are involved in the field of community relations.

The social context of our communities of locality require community members to conduct their affairs in an egalitarian social order where everyone belongs and is committed with no one having a pre-ordained place. Thus, individuals social role role is determined collectively in a scenario where a high value is placed on trustworthiness, dependability and commitment to concepts, ideas and values derived from discourse.

The community member regards "free will" as a concept that can only be discovered collectively and exercised in the context of critical discourse that produces a consensus on what constitutes a virtuous action. Thus, the focus for the individual is on the kind of person they should be as they ahere to the principles of character ethics. In this framework a moral act is one that is voluntarily conducted and founded on collectively agreed social norms that accords with intentions, emotions and feelings that are the result of community conversations.

For trust to be established community members expect goodwill to flourish as a reciprocal feature of interpersonal relationships. This will signal trustworthiness, following the intersubjective communication process between differing community groups and individuals. Furthermore, it extends to those who seek to govern communities in their task of reflecting the shared values and language that has created a social bond and social identity for a group of people. Therefore, community governance should be participative and inclusive with fair and open deliberation.

As community members engage with like minded others affirming their social norms and understanding which actions are 'virtuous' or 'shameful' they will be concerned about the ethical principles of the libertarians as these individualists seem to suffer from a lack of clear social aims, values and beliefs. Similarly, the hierarchicalists who regard community as having no political significance and dismiss the the capacity of community members to choose their own moral code of behaviour as irrelevant leads to distrust of this alternative ethical code. Thus, "personal responsibility to others" from a community perspective can become a notion reflecting conflict and mutual surveillance.

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