Participation and Social Learning in Church-Based Organizations: Implications for Poverty Eradication in Nigeria
Abue, Peter Obele
The task of poverty eradication requires the joint action of various agencies (IFAD, 2001). In Nigeria, there is a lack of alternative institutions to counter the social processes entrenched in local settings that lead to poverty (Obadan, 2002). The main purpose of this study is to investigate the potentials of Church-based organizations (CBOs) as alternative mechanisms for poverty eradication. I begin by defining poverty from a country perspective and argue that modernistic tendencies have led to a limited understanding. I proffer a communitarian approach for understanding the meaning of poverty and its eradication strategies. I examine the organizational dynamics of a diocese in order to explore the elements within its structure that favor social inclusion in relation to the Roman Catholic Social Justice Agenda. I use Social Learning theory as a theoretical framework to assess how a diocese learns to build on the capacity of individuals and groups as stakeholders that influence poverty eradication at the local level. I build on the role of religious emotions and spiritual values in improving the professional practice of a diocese toward poverty eradication. I also investigate how the means of communication play a role in improving social learning within a diocese, tracing the old social learning tradition from individual cognitions to the new understanding of social learning in social group dynamics. Based on the shifting paradigm in development, I analyze the implications of social learning for CBOs in designing learning for individuals and groups. I further review the concept of Participation and its role in poverty eradication, tracing the historical evolution of participation from the basic needs approach to the populist model that emphasizes broader processes of governance within organizations. The implication of this paradigm shift for CBOs is that a diocese as an organization can learn to become a social change agent by reviewing its "structures" and its understanding of "power." I set out to investigate the Catholic diocese of Ogoja Nigeria, to explore its potential to involve people in social development and the fight against poverty.
participation; Social Learning; poverty eradication; Catholic Church based organizations; Roman Catholic Social Justice Agenda; Ogoja diocese Nigeria (Africa); means of communication; social inclusion
dissertation or thesis