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Article

Kirk A. Foster and Victoria A. Charles

Social networks are structures composed of relational patterns of interactions among a set of actors. These actors may be individuals, families, groups, or organizations connected through expressed ties that allow information and resources to flow 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. In this article we discuss the types of social networks, provide an overview of social network analysis, use social capital to contextualize the effects of networks, and provide implications of social networks for social work research and practice.

Article

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.

Article

Sharon E. Milligan

This article will cover 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. The author will provide a discussion of the relationships among these elements and their relationships to other community resources, such as civic participation and collective action. The author will discuss the empirical work regarding the effective ways to produce and promote community building in poor neighborhoods, as well as the practical knowledge that suggest its importance.

Article

Margaret Sherrard Sherraden and Lisa Reyes Mason

Community economic development (CED) is an integrated and community-driven approach to development aimed at generating wealth, capabilities, and empowerment in low-income and low-wealth communities. Nonprofit organizations partner with public and for-profit interests to develop social and economic investment strategies for community economic renewal and revitalization. Social workers in CED engage in interdisciplinary work in community organizing, leadership development, program development and implementation, social-service management, and policy advocacy. To achieve large and sustainable success, CED requires solidarity with and investment in poor communities by society as a whole.

Article

Uma A. Segal

Individuals and families from around the globe form a continuous stream of immigrants to the United States, with waiting lists for entry stretching to several years. Reasons for this ongoing influx are readily apparent, because the United States is one of the most attractive nations in the world, regardless of its 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 (U.S.) that are not found together in any other nation. In theory, and often in reality, the U.S. 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 immigration policy through legislative history and its impact, demographic trends, the economic impact, the immigrant workforce, educational and social service systems, ethical issues, and roles for social workers.

Article

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.

Article

Poverty  

Mark R. Rank

Poverty has been a subject of concern since the beginnings of social work. This entry reviews three key research areas. First, the extent and dynamics of poverty are examined, including the measurement of poverty, patterns of cross-sectional and comparative poverty rates, the longitudinal dynamics of poverty, and poverty as a life-course risk. Second, reasons for poverty are discussed. These are divided into individual versus structural level explanations. The concept of structural vulnerability is offered as a way of bridging key individual and structural determinants in order to better understand the existence of poverty. Third, strategies and solutions to poverty are briefly reviewed.