Making the connections: community capacity for tobacco control in an urban African American community

Merzel C, J Moon-Howard, D Dickerson, D Ramjohn, and N VanDevanter.
American Journal of Community Psychology. 41:74-88.

Developing community capacity to improve health is a cornerstone of community-based public health. The concept of community capacity reflects numerous facets and dimensions of community life and can have different meanings in different contexts. This paper explores how members of one community identify and interpret key aspects of their community's capacity to limit the availability and use of tobacco products. Particular attention is given to examining the interrelationship between various dimensions of community capacity in order to better understand the processes by which communities are able to mobilize for social change. The study is based on qualitative analysis of 19 in-depth interviews with key informants representing a variety of community sectors in Harlem, New York City. Findings indicate that the community is viewed as rich in human and social resources. A strong sense of community identity and connectedness underlies this reserve and serves as a catalyst for action.

Wagner Faculty