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Families and Communities: A Social Organization Theory of Action and Change

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Handbook of Marriage and the Family

Abstract

Families and the community structures and processes that surround them are the focus of this chapter. A social organization theoretical framework is employed as a means of understanding prior work on how families and their communities intersect, and is also invoked to suggest new directions in this area of family science. As backdrop to presenting a theory of action and change, major works in family science, from the 1960s through the present, are analyzed regarding discussions of the families/communities interface. These major works include all sourcebooks and theory compilations centered on families. In addition, three principal journals in family science are analyzed for the period of 2000–2009, with a focus on family research centered on community contexts. This analysis provides a clear roadmap for directions future research might take. The chapter concludes by presenting the essential elements of a social organization theory of action and change, including its assumptions about families and their communities. Community antecedents (the social and physical infrastructures), social organizational processes (networks, social capital, and community capacity), intermediate results (sense of community), and important outcomes for individuals and their families are then elaborated.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    In the interim, we had deviated from our 2005 model in an article on preventing intimate partner violence (Mancini, Nelson, Bowen, & Martin, 2006). In this article, we spoke of three intermediate results between community capacity (shared responsibility and collective competence) and community results (safety, health and well-being, sense of community, and family adjustment). These intermediate results were (1) shared norms and values oriented toward reducing social isolation, (2) individual protective factors to reduce risk and to buffer stressors, and (3) mobilization for collective action.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful for the expert research assistance of John Butler VI, James Ford, Ph.D., Deepu George, Bryce Jorgensen, Ph.D., Megan McCoy, and Bradford Wiles.

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Correspondence to Jay A. Mancini PhD .

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Jay A. Mancini is Haltiwanger Distinguished Professor at The University of Georgia, and head of the Department of Human Development and Family Science (Athens, GA 30602; mancini@uga.edu). His research focuses on the intersection of families and communities, with active projects involving vulnerabilities and resilience among homeless Veterans, community perspectives on elder maltreatment, and the effects of deployment on military children and their families. He is a Fellow of the National Council on Family Relations and of the World Demographic Association. Dr. Mancini received his M.S. degree from Kansas State University and his Ph.D. from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, both in family studies.

Gary L. Bowen is Kenan Distinguished Professor in the School of Social Work at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC 27599; glbowen@email.unc.edu). His research focuses on ways in which elements of social structure frame and influence individual and collective orientations and behavioral choices. He serves as Lead Scientist in the Jordan Institute for Military Members, Veterans, and their Families. He is a Fellow and President of the National Council on Family Relations. Dr. Bowen received his MSW in 1976 from UNC-Chapel Hill and his Ph.D. in Family Studies in 1981 from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

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Mancini, J.A., Bowen, G.L. (2013). Families and Communities: A Social Organization Theory of Action and Change. In: Peterson, G., Bush, K. (eds) Handbook of Marriage and the Family. Springer, Boston, MA. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-3987-5_32

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