Chapter 1: Universal and particular attributes of self–help: A framework for international and intranational analysis

Benjamin Gidron, Mark Chesler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The growth in self–help activity in many countries in the past two decades, brings into focus the international nature of this social phenomenon. The paper deals with both the universal and particular aspects of self–help, and proposes a framework within which to analyze and conduct research on it. In analyzing the universal attributes of self–help, the concept “Community” is used. The use of this concept directs our attention to three internal processes, common to traditional communities and modern self–help frameworks: (1) the development of distinct cultures which shape individuals’ identity; (2) the provision of social support to members, especially during times of crisis; and (3) the empowerment of members. The paper then turns to discuss the particularistic attributes of self–help. The analysis of the differences among self–help groups focuses on their structural properties. Our analysis divides the self–help phenomenon into three key dimensions along which one can detail its wide variety: (1) the nation, its legal and administrative structure, which defines social relationships and the relationship between individuals and the state, (2) within nations, the different. ethnic/racial cultures, which define norms of behavior with kith and kin and the place of individuals within communities and (3) the issues around which groups and organizations are formed. As the issue at hand was hardly dealt with in the literature, the paper uses as its data base a review of indirect studies on the subject, as well as findings from the authors’ own comparative study of self–help groups in Israel and the U.S.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-44
Number of pages44
JournalPrevention in Human Services
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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