The Meaning of Transformational Development for Members of an African American Urban Neighborhood

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Institution Granting Degree

Walden University

Cedarville University School or Department


First Advisor

William Barkley


Health and environmental sciences, Social sciences, African American, health disparities, urban neighborhood, transformational development


Health disparities experienced by African Americans compared to their European American counterparts is a major problem in the United States. Contemporary strategies for ameliorating health disparities target the improvement of physical and social environments; however, there is a gap in the literature with respect to African Americans' perspectives of specific community-based change efforts. This study utilized a hermeneutic phenomenological design to explore the meaning members of one African American urban community ascribed to participation in a community change effort based on the theory of transformational development, a faith-based strategy for improving conditions for health within communities. Conversational interviews were conducted with 11 participants who met purposive sampling criteria. A thematic analysis of data, based on van Manen's approach, resulted in the development of 10 essential themes which focused on the genesis of transformation and transformation at the individual and the neighborhood levels. The results of this study pointed to transformational development as a complex change process which led to authentic community change driven from within. This study contributes to social change by giving voice to the unique perspectives of members of one community in describing the meaning of transformational change. These unique perspectives suggest that community members themselves have a pivotal role to play in addressing health disparities through such transformational change efforts. Overall, the meaning of transformation constructed from this study could support existing efforts in this neighborhood and spark social change in other diverse communities.