Social networks are structures composed of relational patterns of interactions among a set of actors. These actors may be communities, organizations, nations, populations, cultures, or any other collective body connected through expressed ties that allow information and resources to flow within and through the network. Considering a social network approach in research and practice shifts the focus from the attributes of actors within the network to the relations between them. In understanding how the relational ties influence issues of concern, we may better understand phenomena and devise targeted interventions effectively and efficiently.
Kirk A. Foster and Victoria Charles
Kristin M. Ferguson
Considerable definitional vagueness exists regarding civil society, in part due to the concept's long history and multiple underlying schools of thought. Issues of multiculturalism and social justice are central to the term. Civil society is also a global concept, referring to the supranational sphere. The social work profession can benefit from collaborative action with local civil society associations in working to dismantle structural inequality and enhance opportunities for disadvantaged populations.
Immigration Policies in the United States
Uma A. Segal
Immigrants from around the globe form a continuous stream to the United States, with waiting lists for entry stretching to several years. Reasons for ongoing arrivals are readily apparent; the United States continues to be one of the most attractive nations in the world, regardless of old and new problems. There is much in the United States that native-born Americans take for granted and that is not available in most other countries, and there are several amenities, opportunities, possibilities, lifestyles, and freedoms in the United States that do not appear to be found together in any other nation. In theory, and often in reality, the United States is a land of freedom, of equality, of opportunity, of a superior quality of life, of easy access to education, and of relatively few human rights violations. This entry will focus on policy most relevant to migrants as is evidenced through legislative history and its impact on demographic trends, the economy, the workforce, educational and social service systems, ethical issues, and roles for social workers. “Immigration policy” should be distinguished from “immigrant policy.” The former is a screening tool determining eligibility entry into a country; the latter, on the other hand, provides insight into national policies specifically designed to enable integration (or segregation) of immigrants once they have entered its borders.
Umeka E’Lan Franklin
The history, theory, and empirical and practical knowledge of community building social networks and social ties contribute to informal social control, while neighborhood behavior is key to the development and maintenance of social cohesion. Diversity, equity, and inclusion is considered when examining the relationships among the elements of community resources, civic engagement, and civic participation. Empirical work provides evidence of effective ways to produce and promote community building in poor neighborhoods, as well as the practical knowledge that suggests its importance for the role of social work.
Community Macro Practice Competencies
Tracy M. Soska
Community macro practice is one of three spheres of macro social work practice along with human services management and policy practice. The historical context on macro practice and community practice since the Council on Social Work Education first adopted competency-based professional education through its Education Policies and Accreditation Standards in 2008 is important to appreciate how macro practice competencies have evolved. It is also salient to understand how the Association of Community Organization and Social Action (ACOSA) has been at the forefront of developing macro practice and, especially, community practice competencies, and it these efforts present the most current framework of community macro practice competencies entailed in ACOSA’s Community Practice Certificate partnership program with schools of social work.
Community Violence and Mental Health
Selena Marshall and Michele Gordon
Social-ecological inspections into community violence advance our understanding of a single story of violence solely within urban communities, to a more critical discourse of examination. Undoubtedly, the environmental and social determinants of community violence influence variances in community health and dimensions of overall quality of life. Community violence is systemic, with compounded intergenerational effects rooted in racism, discrimination, and marginalization. The reality of daily violence and repeated traumas that many communities experience requires an urgent, multilevel response. Advocacy efforts must be directed at dismantling the structural components within communities that support social disengagement and a culture of normative violence. Community-engagement interventions that are respective of trauma-informed care and community building, have numerous implications for bridging micro- and macro-level social work practices.
Community-Based Aging Services
As individuals age, their physical community continues to be a primary entry point of intervention because of their attachment to place, social connections, and limited mobility to travel as far and as often as they would like or desire. The environment provides a context for understanding an older adult’s social interactions and the availability of and access to supportive services that reduce isolation and increased risk for reduced health status. When individuals age in place, social workers need to understand how community-based services can work with older adults in their community where they have lived for some time and have developed social networks. This knowledge will better assist social workers in their ability to effectively connect clients with appropriate resources. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for an older adult’s environment to not reflect or adapt to their changing health status and physical mobility. Healthy aging (also referred to as age-friendly) and NORC (naturally occurring retirement communities) initiatives have emerged as examples of how to provide supportive, community-based services that will enable older adults to remain engaged in their community as they experience changes in their health status, mobility, and financial security. These community-level interventions emphasize the adaptability to an older adult’s changing lifestyle factors that influence how they navigate their community. These initiatives engage older adults in planning and implementing strategies to connect older adults with services and activities that promote aging in place. Social workers play a very important role in the provision of community-based aging services because they can serve as a bridge between older adults and the local, state, and federal level programs that may be available to them.