Two Tools for Well-Being: Health Systems and Communities

  • John L. McKnight
    Address reprint requests to Director of Publications, Center for Urban Affairs and Policy Research, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208.
    From the Departments of Communication Studies and Urban Affairs, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois
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      Medical systems and associative communities are two distinctive social tools. To promote health, tools of community are more significant than system tools. Medical systems were created to serve many needs efficiently and to produce standardized procedures and outcome. Clients are a necessary component of a medical system. Associative communities are formed with the active consent of the people they serve and require citizens rather than clients. If the promotion of health is the goal, the medical system is limited in what it can achieve by the nature of its design. Only when systems recognize the need for community building and work together with associations, focusing on citizens’ capacities rather than clients’ deficiencies, can health promotion be successful.
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