The role of customs and beliefs in legitimating community development participation in Botoku, rural Ghana: implications for substance abuse prevention (Part 1 of 2)

Tsey, Komla (2010) The role of customs and beliefs in legitimating community development participation in Botoku, rural Ghana: implications for substance abuse prevention (Part 1 of 2). Forum on Public Policy, 2010 ( 1). 1-13.

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Abstract

Customs, belief systems and values, enshrined in specific societal norms and sanctions, provide those involved as members of the society with a sense of belonging, confidence and guidance in their efforts to negotiate complex demands and challenges of modern life. Rapid modernization and social change accompanied by a philosophy of individualism, risks separating people from community values and responsibilities and is a precursor to serious social problems, such as alcohol and other substance abuse. While change is inevitable, there are models for managing this in ways that do not undermine the social strength and cohesion associated with traditional values and customs. Autonomous individualism, or a liberated self, freed from religious, political and social bonds needs to be carefully balanced by respect for self and others, as well as a premium on the cooperative nature of morality.

This paper explores the role of customs and beliefs as protective factors against a rising threat of alcohol abuse in rural Ghana. Based on a community development oral history research, the paper shows the high premium that the study community places on the performance of funeral rites for the dead on ancestral lands, irrespective of one‘s place of residency at the time of death. This process legitimizes and reproduces a social expectation among citizens, both resident and non resident, to participate or contribute their fair share to improving the ancestral village. The implications of the findings for substance abuse and other social dysfunction protective factors are highlighted. The role that empowerment-based social research can play in offering a lens to a community about past strength and achievements and provide space for reflection, clarification and where needed, adaptation of values, norms and customs is also highlighted.

Item ID: 11873
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: community development; customs and beliefs; social norms; rural Ghana; substance abuse; protective factors; empowerment-based social research
Additional Information:

Part 1 of 2.

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ISSN: 1938-9809
Date Deposited: 08 Sep 2010 03:19
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130399 Specialist Studies in Education not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9202 Health and Support Services > 920208 Health Inequalities @ 50%
92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920413 Social Structure and Health @ 25%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950501 Understanding Africas Past @ 25%
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