Dichotomous Thought

  • Definition: "refers to a binary, either/or way of seeing the world that defines one thing in relation to its opposite, with a subject/object power implicit in the relationship, for example, working-class/middle-class, male/female, White/Black." See xii of Margaret Ledwith's "Community Development: A Critical Approach".

  • Apply: This theory can be applied in community development situations where the community is primarily Black and the organizer is White. They will have opposite ways of viewing the issues they face because of their cultural backgrounds. This can also be seen where the organizer is from a middle/upper-class environment and the community is largely working/lower-class. There will be opposite ideals and desires based on where these individuals are coming from geographically and economically.

  • Adapt: Working with a community that is dealing with dichotomous thought, there will need to be found a base of common values and understanding between the community organizer and community. This first step will need to be made in order to effectively work with all involved in the social/economic/political issues at hand.

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