Although it is generally recognized that the participation of everyone, particularly of the young and the old, is vitally important in the planning and implementation of socio-economic programmes, few communities accomplish this end. Social patterns may have been well-defined for several generations, but contemporary living has transformed these forms and they have not been replaced. Effective community engagement requires that dynamic role systems for everyone are woven into the patterns of daily life.
Lack of participation in activities relating to community life and welfare, leads to the alienation of certain sections of society, lack of social unity within the community, unequal treatment of sections of society, and general social and political alienation through lack of contact.
Participation may be both the cause and the result of a well integrated community, and where it does not exist, intergroup (especially interracial) conflict is likely to occur, involving violence, crime, discrimination and prejudice. Where participation in local politics is lacking, corruption and bureaucratic abuse are more likely to occur, because actions taken at the local level are not contested. Participation implies responsibility and where it is not taken, the community is open to anarchy or elitist control of a dictatorial nature. Certain social systems are more conducive to a centrally planned system; lack of communication from authorities to the members of the community may lead to the failure in implementation of social policy and development policy. Urbanization, and consequent separation of the individual from participation in the community, may lead to an increase in stress and mental disorders, in loneliness, suicide, and general deprivation in social life through lack of contact. Extensive property damage, destruction of equipment, abuse of natural resources and vandalism indicate a profound frustration with available forms of participation.