Community activists from different cultures: Implications for social work

Lea Zanbar, Haya Itzhaky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Summary: Community activists, supervised by macro-intervention social workers, can realize the potential to go from passive consumers of social services to producers of appropriate responses to the needs of their communities. While the literature describes the influence of religious and cultural characteristics on the effectiveness of such interventions, the question of whether there are differences in personal resources and community activity between activists from different cultures has yet to be investigated. The current study compared community activists from the ultra-Orthodox sector in Israel, a traditional society, with activists from the general population, examining personality traits defined in the literature as critical for community activists (self-esteem, mastery), aspects of community activity (client participation, representation, level of activity), and outcomes of community activity (dimensions of well-being). The sample consisted of 351 activists, 163 from the ultra-Orthodox population and 188 from the general population. Findings: The findings reveal significant differences between the two groups, with higher levels of most personal and community variables found among the activists from the general population. This is consistent with the literature and may be attributed to the insularity of the ultra-Orthodox sector, which keeps itself apart from society at large. Interestingly, despite the resource deficits in this community, its activists reported higher levels of personal well-being. Applications: The findings have implications for researchers and practitioners. They indicate the importance of working closely with the leaders of traditional societies and designing unique methods of social work intervention to enhance the activists’ personal resources and community characteristics, while maintaining cultural sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)732-751
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Social Work
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2018


  • Social work
  • community work
  • cultural diversity
  • culturally sensitive
  • social work research


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