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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

Nancy Morrow-Howell and Leslie Hasche

Despite high levels of functioning among older adults, chronic health conditions lead to impairment and the need for help. Family members provide most of the assistance; yet formal services such as in-home personal and homemaker services, congregate and home-delivered meals, adult day services, employment and educational services, transportation, nursing homes, assisted and supportive living facilities, legal and financial services, and case management are available. Even with the growing number and type of services, unequal access and uneven quality persist. In these settings, social workers develop and administer programs, provide clinical care, offer case management and discharge planning, and contribute to policy development.

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

Mary Pender Greene

Sociologists and social workers have long been invested in understanding the role of communities in shaping identities and influencing behavior; however, the study of virtual communities is still new despite the dramatic ways in which online social networks have replaced traditional, geographically bound conceptions of community. The present article briefly reviews some of the early theories of community that have influenced practically all scholars studying computer-mediated virtual communities. The focus then shifts toward an analysis of early, important theorists focusing on virtual communities. The article concludes by examining contemporary research and practices utilizing virtual communities in social work, with a particular emphasis on ways to integrate virtual communities into professional practice.

Article

Dennis L. Poole

Voluntarism can be interpreted at the levels of values, structure, and ideology. In Western society, voluntarism rests heavily on secular and religious values originating in both Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian traditions. Today the voluntary sector in the United States can be divided into five main types: social support networks, grassroots associations, nonprofit organizations, human service agencies, and private foundations. At the level of ideology, voluntarism can be interpreted as “civil society.”

Article

Silvia Domínguez

In social work, social capital is linked to both the prevention and treatment of mental and physical health. This concept has also been incorporated in the development of empowering interventions with marginalized minorities. The capacity-based and the youth development models of intervention, both call on social service organizations to work interdependently around meeting the needs for the human and social capital growth of youth (Morrison, Alcorn, & Nelums 1997). Social capital is also a feature of empowering interventions in neighborhoods and community development, as is collective efficacy, which is a measure of working trust that exists among residents and has been popularized as a way to stop youth high-risk behavior.