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Mary Ohmer and Emily Underwood

Communities are shared spaces that can be geographic, virtual, or based on shared interest, identity, or function. All three types of communities can exist on their own and overlap with one another. Virtual communities have grown considerably over the years and were particularly important during the coronavirus pandemic. Study of these communities begins with conceptual definitions of communities and a historical overview of communities in macro social work practice. A discussion follows of theoretical and conceptual frameworks that can help macro social workers better understand how to engage communities in their work, including systems theory and the ecological perspective, theories that inform community social processes, conflict and consensus approaches to working with communities and the role of power and community empowerment, and critical race theory. Illustrative examples demonstrate how these theories and conceptual frameworks can be applied to communities.