Community health psychology is concerned with the theory and method of working with communities to combat disease and to promote health. This introductory article outlines key assumptions and debates underlying this area of research and practice—in the interests of framing the papers in this special edition of the Journal of Health Psychology. Attention is given to the value of emphasizing the community level of analysis and action; the role of collective action in improving health; psycho-social mediatiors between community participation and health; and the potential role of partnerships in creating ‘healthy communities’. A distinction is made between ‘accommodationist’ and ‘critical’ perspectives, and the authors consider whether or not significant social change can come from community-level action.
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