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Motivations to Grassroots Community Action in the Context of Poverty

HIDE
 Title Page
 Dedication
 Acknowledgement
 Table of Contents
 List of Tables
 List of Figures
 Abstract
 Introduction and problem state...
 Literature review
 Methods
 Results
 Discussion
 Recommendations
 Appendix A: Interview questions...
 Appendix B: Interview protocol
 References
 Biographical sketch
 

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MOTIVATIONS TO GRASSROOTS COMMUNITY ACTION IN THE CONTEXT OF POVERTY By JADE VANESSA MARCUS A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF SCIENCE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2006

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Copyright 2006 by Jade Vanessa Marcus

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This document is dedicated to my Father.

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iv ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank my Father for alwa ys supporting me and giving me the best possible advice. I would also like to thank my other friends and family for always being there for me when my thesis made me cry. My cochairs Dr. Carolyn Wilken and Dr. Marilyn Swisher have been incredibly kind and patient throughout this process as well.

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v TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.................................................................................................iv LIST OF TABLES............................................................................................................vii LIST OF FIGURES.........................................................................................................viii ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................... ix CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION AND PROBLEM STATEMENT..................................................1 Poverty........................................................................................................................ ..2 Social Well-being.........................................................................................................3 Community action and well-being................................................................................4 Purpose of research.......................................................................................................7 Assumptions.................................................................................................................8 Limitations.................................................................................................................... 9 2 LITERATURE REVIEW...........................................................................................10 Community.................................................................................................................10 Community Theoretical Perspectives.........................................................................14 Rural Sociology: Field Theory............................................................................16 Community field..........................................................................................17 Social field....................................................................................................18 Social Movement.................................................................................................19 Community Agency and Action.................................................................................21 Community Development...........................................................................................25 Motivations and Barriers to Community Action........................................................27 Motivations for Action........................................................................................28 Social interaction..........................................................................................30 Community attachment................................................................................31 Efficacy........................................................................................................33 Barriers to Action................................................................................................36 Poverty........................................................................................................................ 39 Distress....................................................................................................................... 40

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vi 3 METHODS.................................................................................................................42 Approach.....................................................................................................................42 Site Selection..............................................................................................................44 Context of Poverty...............................................................................................44 History of Community Action.............................................................................45 Methods......................................................................................................................46 Sampling..............................................................................................................47 Stage 1: Key informant interviews for questionnaire development.............47 Stage 2: Local leaders of neighborhood watch organizations......................48 Process.................................................................................................................48 Data Analysis..............................................................................................................50 4 RESULTS...................................................................................................................53 5 DISCUSSION.............................................................................................................69 Self-efficacy................................................................................................................70 Community Attachment..............................................................................................79 Community Ecology...................................................................................................85 Social Support.............................................................................................................87 Participants’ Resources...............................................................................................88 Perceived Barriers to Action.......................................................................................92 Conclusion..................................................................................................................96 6 RECOMMENDATIONS............................................................................................98 APPENDIX A INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR STAGE 2 AND CORRESPONDING THEORIES...............................................................................................................102 B INTERVIEW PROTOCOL......................................................................................105 LIST OF REFERENCES.................................................................................................108 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH...........................................................................................120

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vii LIST OF TABLES Table page 4.1 Data analysis for question three to unde rstand participants’ in itial motivation for action........................................................................................................................5 5 4.2 Data analysis for question four to unders tand participants’ family social support..56 4.3 Data analysis for question six to under stand participants’ domains of resources for community action...............................................................................................57 4.4 Data analysis for question seven to understand particip ants’ barriers to community action.....................................................................................................58 4.5 Bar graph of participants ’ resource level scores and the number of participants who identified with each resource level...................................................................59 4.6 Data analysis for question eight to un derstand participants’ perceived low level of resources..............................................................................................................60 4.7 Data analysis for question nine to understand participants’ self-efficacy................61 4.8 Data analysis for question ten to understand participants’ self-efficacy..................62 4.9 Data analysis for question eleven to understand participants’ perceived level of responsibility for improving community quality of life...........................................64 4.10 Data analysis for question twelve to understand participants’ community attachment................................................................................................................66 4.11 Data analysis for question thirteen to understand participants’ community ecology.....................................................................................................................68

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viii LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 5.1 Sources of Community action self-efficacy as predictors for community action....72 5.2 Interaction, percieved needs and mastery experience work together as sources of self-efficacy and as predictors for community action..............................................74 5.3 Feedback loop between mastery experien ce, social support, psychological state and self-efficacy.......................................................................................................76 5.4 Self-efficacy creates four self-efficacy activated processes as predictors for community action.....................................................................................................79 5.5 Sources of community attachment as predictors for community action..................83 5.6 Feedback loop between mastery experi ence, self-efficacy, efficacy-activated processes and community attachment......................................................................85 5.7 Interaction and social su pport increase part icipant resources and contribute to self-efficacy..............................................................................................................91 5.8 Conceptual model of motiva tions for community action.........................................97

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ix Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science MOTIVATIONS TO GRASSROOTS COMMUNITY ACTION IN THE CONTEXT OF POVERTY By Jade Vanessa Marcus August 2006 Chair: Dr. Carolyn S. Wilken Cochair: Dr. Marilyn E. Swisher Major Department: Family, Y outh and Community Sciences The objective of this research was to unc over the factors that motivate individuals for community action in poor or distressed neighborhoods. Poverty is a significant problem in communities across the United St ates. Understanding the dynamics of neighborhood grassroots action in poor ne ighborhoods is important because community action increases social and material well-bei ng in communities. This project used a multiple case study design and a grounded theory approach for data collection and analysis due to the large nu mber of possible predictors of motivation for community action. The study site was a mid-sized Univers ity city in the southeast United States. The site was selected based on high poverty rates and a history of community action. Key informant interviews were conducted to identify important leaders of action, and semi-structured interviews were conduc ted with local neighborhood watch and community association leaders. The most important motivations for community action

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x among participants in this study were havi ng a high community action self-efficacy and feelings of community attachment. Major ba rriers to action for the study participants were apathy among other residents, government bureaucracy, and low levels of available resources.

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1 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION AND PROBLEM STATEMENT The purpose of this study was to unders tand the motivations and barriers to participation in grassroots-level community action within the soci oeconomic context of poverty. The role of resident-level action wi thin the context of poverty is of primary importance in understanding the quality of life the realization of human potential and capacity, community development and social change in poor communities across the United States. The community has been described as the most important setting for social wellbeing (Wilkinson, 1991). Communities are wh ere individual, group and other local capacities are realized and pursued through interaction with other residents in the community. Uncovering the actions and inte ractions of residents of poor communities can provide insight about how we can work with local resi dents to create programs and policies that use, compliment, and enhance community dynamics, as well as improve the quality of life for the local people. Residents living in the same locality interact over common issues, and this interaction gives structure to local life (Lulo ff & Bridger, 2003). Yet little of the current research on civic participation has focuse d on whether neighborhood context influences participation (Stoll, 2001). Since poverty is characterized by a struggle to meet basic needs such as food, shelter, utilities and h ealthcare, for community members living in these poor areas we need to ask, “What inte ractions and community actions occur to address basic needs?”

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2 Poverty This project is placed in the contex t of poor neighborhoods because poverty is a significant problem in the U.S. today, yet we do not know how the experience of living in poverty serves as a motivation or barrier to participating in the lif e of the community. Poverty is primarily an indication of an i ndividual’s or family’s economic status. Distress is a term meant to signify the severely different experiences of communities based on high unemployment, low income high poverty, unstable economies, population outmigration or other socioeconomic problem s (Glasmeier, Wood & Feullhart, 2006). Neighborhoods affected by poverty show sympto ms of distress such as dilapidated housing, poor infrastructure, poor schools and de creases in the quality of life in poor areas. Although the poverty ra te in 2004 was nearly 10% lo wer than in 1959, the first year for which poverty estimates are available, both the number and rates of poverty have risen for four consecutive years to 12.7% a nd 37.0 million people in 2004 from the most recent low in 2000 at 11.3% and 31.6 million people (U.S. Census, 2005). In Florida in 2002, the poverty rate was 12.6%. In Alachua County, FL in 2002, 15.1% of all people lived in poverty. The family and every individual in it is c onsidered in poverty when a family’s total income is less than the family’s calculated poverty threshold, determined by the Federal government (U.S. Census, 2005). For example, a parent with three re lated children under the age of 18 would be considered in pove rty if they earned less than $19,223 in 2004. The official poverty thresholds do not vary geographically, but they are updated for inflation using the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U). Poverty exists in a many settings. Over one-third of the na tion’s poor live in suburbs (O’Hare, 1996). Contrary to what many people believe, metropolitan areas have

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3 slightly lower poverty rates than rural areas, although rural poverty is less visible. In 2003, 14.2 percent of the population, or 7.5 million people, living in nonmetropolitan (population < 2,500) areas were poor. In cont rast, the metropolitan poverty rate was 12.1 percent in 2003 (United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, 2004). The Economic Research Service (ERS) de fines counties as persistently poor if 20 percent or more of the popul ation has been living in povert y over the last 30 years, measured by the 1970, 1980, 1990 and 2000 decennial censuses. Using this definition, there are 386 persistently poor counties in the United States, comprising 12 percent of all U.S. counties and four percent of the U.S. population. The majority, 340 of 386, of the persistent poverty counties are non-metropolitan counties (Economic Research Service, 2004). Among the four geographic regions in the U.S., Northeast, Midwest, West and South, the South has the highest poverty rate at 13.5% (U.S. Census, 2004). Figueira-McDonough (1995) confirmed the pa ttern originally described by the National Research Council in th e 1980's. While the poverty rate remained fairly constant from 1970 to 1980, there was a 75% increase in the number of census tracts with concentrated poverty. These facts demonstrat e that as a nation-wi de social problem, poverty has condensed into neighborhoods a nd communities (Stoll, 2001; Jarkowski, 1997). Social Well-being The extensive interactions and actions that contribute to the emergence of community in turn shape the social well -being of local residents (Wilkinson, 1991). Social conditions therefore, pl ay an important, if not an al l-powerful role, in individual well-being (Wilkinson, 1991). In fact, hi gh rates of poverty a nd inequality in predominantly rural areas stand out most dramatically as a factor in community

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4 interaction and social well-being (Joint Economic Committee, 1986). It therefore makes sense that a threshold must be achieved in meeting ba sic physiological needs for food, safety, and other lower order needs, in orde r to facilitate social well being (Wilkinson, 1991). At the social level, this demand gene ralizes the needs for j obs, income, markets, homes and a range of services. Deficits in these components of mate rial well-being give direct evidence of problems of social well-being (Wilkinson, 1991). Interactions, participation or association with others is both of instrumental and intrinsic value to social well-being, and the community is a pr incipal arena of interpersonal association (Wilkinson, 1991). Understanding the dynamics that occu r between meeting basic needs and facilitating community action in disadvantag ed communities has not been addressed by current research in community studies. Th is urgency is illustrated by Wilkinson who makes the point that where protection and enhancement of materi al holdings becomes a dominant social activity, community and the human potential for well-being it supports can be said to fade into the background, if not to disa ppear completely from social interaction. ( pp.78, 1991) It is vital that we understand the successful e fforts and constant str uggles of individuals and families in poverty so that we can begin to mitigate the sacrifices of well-being that too many poor American people make each day. Community action and well-being The local community is the primary sett ing and point of contact between the individual and society (Konig, 1968; Wilkins on, 1991). Here, large scale social problems are materialized at an individual and group level The actions of local residents in support of their communities are vital to social and economic viability (Luloff & Bridger, 2003).

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5 Members of disadvantaged groups do engage in collective behavior in order to improve their situation under ce rtain circumstances (Simon et al ., 1998). These actions enhance the well-being of those involved when they occur (Wilkinson, 1991). Community action is the process of building social relations hips in the pursuit of common community interests (Wilkinson, 1991; Luloff & Bridger, 2003). These actions are most successful when people act together to improve material conditions of their shared life, which is important in addressing the needs in poor neighborhoods. Collective action will occur because collective action has its roots in the private problems of individuals as long as there are human beings confronting a ha rsh physical and/or social environment (Summers, 1985). This research aims to unde rstand the true roots of grassroots action. Action is based on the needs and wants of the community, and motivations serve to stimulate the initial st ages of social action (Wilkinson, 1991). A need exists for local community and economic development effo rts from government, Extension programs and non-profit agencies to bette r understand the role of actio n in dealing with the needs and interests of comm unities living in poverty. The concept of community agency, or the mobilization of collective human resources, has not been well addressed in the research done on community development (Luloff & Swanson, 1995). An asset based approach is useful for mobilizing the potential resources in a community. This is when people in communities organize to drive the development process themselves through identifying and mobilizing existing, but often unrecognized, assets (Mathie & Cunningham, 2003). Agency represents the capacity for community action, so this lack of research prohib its social scientists from understanding how we can mobilize the human potential for development in communities

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6 using this asset-based approach. This shortfall ha s contributed to the str uggle of social policy to meliorate local efforts to address social problems (Luloff & Swanson, 1995). Additionally, the failure to incorporate community agency into economic development programs has hindered our ability to understand and theref ore assist community developm ent efforts (Luloff & Swanson, 1995). Examining the nature of community action ha s been previously a pproached by community sociologists who have addressed the question, “how do communities act?” (Luloff, 1990; Tilly, 1973). Luloff states that this is a necessary area of research in order to make relevant contribution to community studies. The people that live near each other and interact with one another are the molecules which form the ma tter of community, and are the agents which perform the theoretical acts of community. Observing the motivations for action at the individual level will provide a context for ex amining the role of human volition in the daily commerce of community (Luloff, 1990). More specific evidence further suggests that community action is vital to understanding and improving communities in poverty. Community action had decidedly positive effects in communities defined as poor or inadequate in terms of housing, income, population, employment trends and poverty, and commun ity action (Martin & Wilkinson, 1984). Essentially, high levels of activeness in communities with high distress yielded receipt of fede ral funding for community and economic development. If we can develop an understanding of the motivations and barriers that impact high levels of action in these di stressed, poor communities, we can apply these findings to facilitate sustaina ble development and change in impoverished areas throughout the United States. A further understanding of the nature and motivations of these actions in distressed communities is the primary goal of this research.

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7 Purpose of research Extensive research is needed to understand how collective cohesivene ss and an increased well being for citizens in communities emerge out of community activity (Luloff, 1990). The purpose of this research is to better understand potentia l social, psychological physical, cultural and economic motivations and barriers to pa rticipation in commun ity actions within a community in poverty. This research will explor e the underlying forces and the context within which intervention and development can be planned (Summers, 1986). While social scientists have long been aware of the impor tance of group influences and interactions in socioeconomi c deprivation, it has been diffi cult to formally study these interactions, because data have not existed to a llow the level of insight that a social science approach can provide (Durlauf, 2000). A commu nity case study of human motivations and interactions in the pa rticular socioeconomic context of poverty will contribute to this understanding. The objectives of this research are to 1. Uncover how participants descri be the factors that motivate i ndividuals to participate in community action in the context of poverty. 2. Describe the barriers that limit or prevent par ticipation of residents in community actions in poor communities. Definitions Barrier : any physical, cultural, ps ychological, or emotional factor which prevents an individual from acting, namely within the community (Luloff & Bridger, 2003). Community : a natural and ubiquitous phenomenon among people who share a common territory and interact with one another on pl ace relevant matters (B ridger & Luloff, 1999). Community action: the process of building social re lationships in pursuit of common community interests and maintaining local lif e (Wilkinson, 1970, 1991; Luloff & Bridger, 2003).

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8 Community agency: the mobilization of collective human resources, the local capacity of people, to manage, utilize and enhance resour ces available to them (Luloff & Swanson, 1995). Community attachment: the degree to which residents fe el a social and psychological bond to a shared space with lo cal inhabitants (Wilkinson, 1991). Community involvement: participation in community or iented activities (Kaufman, 1977; Wilkinson, 1991). Distress: the experience of communities based on high unemployment, low income, high poverty, unstable economies, population outmigr ation or other socioeconomic problems (Glasmeier, Wood & Feullhart, 2006). Grassroots mobilization : resident-level organization of individuals in a community to collectively act in pu rsuit of a common goal (Rubin & Rubin, 2001). Motivation: any physical, cultural, psychologi cal, environmental or emotional factor that contributes to an indi vidual acting in their community (Bandura, 1994). Poverty: a person or family is considered in pover ty if the family’s total income is less than the family’s threshold (Office of Mana gement and Budget's (OMB) Statistical Policy Directive 14), then that family and every indivi dual in it is considered in poverty (U.S. Census, 2005). Self-efficacy : the belief that one has the capabilit y to perform a particular behavior (Compeau & Higgins, 1995). Assumptions This study assumes that people can be classifi ed into two degrees of community action; active and inactive. It also assumes that community residents and key informants will answer the questions thoughtfully, carefully and honestly. Al so, residents are assumed to be poor, working poor, or at least living in a poor community because the location of the study is in a geographic

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9 area that falls within the demographic and statis tical guidelines of livi ng in poverty and does not distinguish relative poverty betw een each individual interviewed. Limitations A limitation to this study is that by usi ng a case study design, the sample will not be representative to all impoverished communities and will only be able to describe and explain the particular experiences of resident s in the community in this study. Another limitation is that the study of comm unity action has been relatively unexamined within the specific socioeconomic context of poverty and no previously tested methods or instrumentation are available to work with this particular population.

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10 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW The following sections review the current literature about the concepts in the research question. First I will elaborate on the meanings and theoretical nature of community and community action. Then there is a review of previous concepts and research findings that have attempted to e xplain the motivations and barriers related to community action. There is also a brief review of relevant poverty literature. Community Community has been defined in several different ways. The Greek meaning of the word community is “fellowship”. Aristotl e argued that people came together in a community setting for the enjoyment of mutual association, to fulfill basic needs, and to find meaning in life (Christenson, Fendley & Robinson, 1989). Today’s concepts are similar to this historical perspective. So ciological definitions emphasize interpersonal bonds, such as a shared territory, a common lif e, collective actions, and mutual identity (Wilkinson, 1991). However, in both the so ciological context (H illary, 1955) and in ordinary language and thought (Plant, 1974) one common denominator of community substance stands out, social interaction (Wilkinson, 1991). Schamelenbach (1961) says that community is a natural state of being in relation to others. Wilkinson states that community “simpl y refers to the fact that one naturally is connected to other people” (1991, pp. 6). Christenson et al. define community as “people that live within a geographical ly bounded area who are involved in social interaction and have one or more psychological ties with each other and with the place in which they

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11 live” (1989, pp.4). Community usually arises in territorially based relationships within the locality (Wilkinson, 1991). A significant po rtion of our meaningf ul interaction takes place in a defined spatial area through local re sources such as work, education, driving on roads, or buying groceries (Chr istenson, Fendley & Robinson, 1989). Etzioni offers an alternative perspect ive on the definition of community, denying the need of a locality for a community to exis t, and questions the benefits of community (2000). The strength of relationships between individuals who share the same values and norms create an identity that can be defined as a community. These values are established through moral dialogue and are maintained by inform al social controls rather than laws (Etzioni, 2000). However, laws must reflect these values so that individuals in the community feel the regulations imposed on them are just and will voluntarily subscribe to these laws. Indi viduals engage in social bonds, but they also maintain a strong sense of self-identity and autonomy (Etzioni, 2000). New urbanism offers another perspective on the role of the community locality. It stresses that the physical design and built envi ronment can encourage resident interaction and social cohesion to rebuild a sense of co mmunity, which some scientist feel is lost (Katz, 1994). This approach tries to build community by in tegrating private residential space with surrounding public space and caref ul design and placement of public space (Talen, 1999, pp.1363). Community elements arguably can be bu ilt into localities by accounting for them in the planning process. However, Talen critici zes the new urbanist perspective condemning it for its lack of empirical evidence about the relationship between town design and community attachment (1999).

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12 The concept of connectedness and interac tion is prevalent in Putnam’s social capital theory (2000). This perspective argue s that people feel an obligation toward one another in communities characte rized by high levels of trust, strong norms of reciprocity, and dense networks of civic engagement (P utnam, 2000). This enables people to work together for the common good (Luloff & Bridge r, 2003). Some social scientists have defined social capital simply as social networks or institu tional relations (e.g., relationships between civic organizati on and the government) (Caughy, Campo & Muntaner, 2003). However, some research reveals that social capital can have a negative impact due to in-group bias in co mmunity associations. Stole (1998) observed that some community organizations that in crease trust among their members also make them less trusting of those who do not belong to the association. Coleman’s (1988) rational choice theory cl aims that a persons actions are “shaped, redirected, constrained by the social context; norms, interper sonal trust, social networks and social organization are important in the f unctioning not only of society but also of the economy” (pp. 96). Others, like Hawley, includ e social interaction in their definition of community (1950). Hillery (1955) and Willis (1977) summarized much of the classic rural sociological community literature and suggest four main components for defining the concept of community (Christenson, Fendley & Robins on, 1989). The first is that a community involves people. Secondly, a place or terr itory should be an element of community (Hillery, 1955). The third element is social interaction, and the four th is a psychological identification, or a common attachment w ith a community (Christenson, Fendley & Robinson, 1989).

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13 Interactions, or association with others is both of instrumental and intrinsic value to social well-being and the community is a pr incipal arena of inte rpersonal association (Wilkinson, 1991). People who live together tend to interact with one another whether or not they participate in ex tra-local structures as we ll (Wilkinson, 1991). Ostrander discusses the key importance of social relationships in both rural and urban communities in ameliorating poverty in her review of th e work of Duncan (1999) and Danziger and Lin (2000) about the social contexts of poor people’s lives (2001). The research in both pieces captures the way people in poverty unders tand and create their perceptions of their day-to-day lives. Ostrander (2001) undersco res the importance of this understanding in developing effective policies and programs to alleviate poverty. Knowledge of relationships among individuals and organizations in a community provides information to use to predict the range and/or breadt h of potential community responses to local problems, both in the short and long term (Luloff, 1990). We study community because the emergence of community is essential to the satisfaction of human needs, especially the need to not feel alienated from society (Greisman, 1980). Over the last decade, many scholars have argued that the local ecological context is central to understanding the factors that affect such diverse processes as socialization, workforce participation, intellectual development, successful aging, physical and mental health and persiste nt poverty (Luloff & Bridger, 2003; Claude et al., 2000; Hylton, 1995; Ti gges et al., 1998; Wilkinson, 1991; Wilson, 1995, 1996). Healy (1998) also argues that the neighbor hood is a useful level for understanding everyday social interactions. A community theoretical persp ective is appropriate to study the motivations to grassroots action.

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14 The community is a field of social intera ction with the capacity to influence and shape the well-being of part icipants (Summers, 1986). An examination of community focuses on the social life of people whose beha viors give the territory its social meaning (Wilkinson, 1991). A community theoretical pers pective can help us examine social and structural problems. It also provides an arena for applying such knowledge in intervention and prevention to improve individual and community quality of life. Community Theoretical Perspectives Warren’s “great change” theory discusses the transformation of community life. He argues that communities have become more internally differentiated as they have become increasingly reliant on extra local in stitutions and sources of income (1963, 1971, 1978). This causes the ties that connected all parts of a community to break. Following World War II, this trend forced local deci sions, policy and program creation to extracommunity systems outside of the locality (Warren, 1963). Local people had decreasing control over their immediate ecology, but increasing soci al and economic opportunities with the larger society. This process of creating more vertic al (outside of the locality) ties has increasingly attenuated the importan ce of local relationships and the diverse intra-community (horizontal) interactions and activities in people’s daily lives (Luloff & Bridger, 2003). Warren’s concept of a changing nature of community provides the context of the systems theory approach (Luloff, 1990). This approach views the persisting patterns of social relationships among interacting social uni ts as the center of attention. The systems are adaptive entities that minimize changes fr om outside the commun ity and decrease the impact of these changes on th e internal structur e of community (Warren, 1978). Systems theory assumes that the commun ity status quo is healthy and provides for resident’s basic

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15 needs. This approach does not adequate ly address the dynamics of a disadvantaged population because it does not consider the n ecessary changes and actions that can occur within a community. The massification of society approach also a ttempts to explain the historic barriers to community agency. Shils’s (1972) argument explained the abandonment of a territorial or locality-based community for a larger, ma ss-societal community. This suggests that larger systems undermine community and individual well-being (Luloff & Bridger, 2003). These processes are viewed as undemo cratic because they reproduce the class interests of local elites and do not necessarily represent the majority (Luloff & Swanson, 1995). Structural or macro-level forces ha ve an effect on community functioning and well-being. A micro or more individual le vel approach is necessary to allow the examination of interactions and events that lead to grassroots co mmunity action in order to understand individual action. Macro-level or systematic approaches to understanding community look at the large-scale infrastructure, institutions and soci etal level trends that can affect community from the top down. They do not focus on the complexities and natu re of local dynamics within communities. Therefore they do not pe rmit an examination of the grassroots level social forces that exist on a more micro or individual level. Gl ennerster et al. (1999) discuss the importance of a neighborhood level focus as well. It is important to recognize the horizontal and vertical linkages between lo cal activities and the larger society without dismissing local activities as irre levant (Christenson, Fendley & Robinson, 1989). A community or neighborhood can exist with close linkage to the larger society and still retain its identity and viability because it provides a basis for the local population to

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16 engage in community actions (Meegan & Mitchell, 2001; Christenson, 1982). Grassroots community action can therefore shape the ecology and identity of a community. It would be valuable to know exactly how resident level social forces facilitate the persistence of horizontal lin kages in communities, as well as how these forces or actions shape local quality of life. Two views about the model of community ar e important. The first has its origins in classic rural sociology and stems out of the struggles of isolated, primarily homogenous, poor rural areas. The second consists of theories that stem from the social movement model, which grew out of the urba n experience. This perspective focuses on the ways neighborhood organizations link together to create broad based social networks. Rural Sociology: Field Theory Field theory presents a framework fo r understanding how community emerges through social interactio n and participation (Kaufman, 1977; Wilkinson, 1979, Wilkinson, 1991; Luloff & Swanson, 1995). Community is a natural and ubiquitous phenomenon among people who share a common te rritory and interact with one another on place relevant matters in the interactional perspec tive (Bridger & Luloff, 1999). Wilkinson focuses on interaction as the persistent feature of local life, stating that “social interaction delineates a territory as the community locale; it provides the associations that comprise the local society; it gives direction to processes of collective action; and it is the source of community identity” (Wilkinson, 1991, pp., 34). Field theory argues that the interactions of community me mbers are the foundation of comm unity that links the other three elements of a community together, peopl e, attachment and local ity. This perspective explores the fundamental or ganization of interdependence among people and focuses on the ways collective action emerges.

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17 Interaction creates the framework, motiva tion, and social linkages necessary for action and social participation. It therefore affects the social behavior and organization of people. People behave and act purposively in response to their interactions and the impressions they draw from connecting with others (Luloff & Bridger, 2003). Such conditions contribute to action, which is ge nerally seen as purposive efforts seeking social change at the local level (Wilkins on, 1991). A threat from an out-group imposed on a community increases social cohesion. In turn, the opportun ity to engage in community action is high when internal c ohesion is high (Luloff, 1990). The desired end-state of field theory is that community members engage in associational action (Luloff, 1990). A field theore tical perspective moves beyond the calculation of essential features of a locality, such as institutional structures, to an examination of the dynamic processes of human interaction that ar e indicative of community (Luloff, 1990). Community field From a field theoretical pers pective, a community is a dyna mic field, a term used in both behavioral and social sciences (Mey, 1972; Yinger, 1965). The use of the field concept is more inclusive and more indicativ e of dynamics as opposed to arena or stage, which denote the context but not the activity, which is critical (Wilkinson, 1970). It is dynamic because it is in a continuous state of change. The term field also refers to the quality of a community as a complete a nd integrated whole (Wilkinson, 1991). The community field consists of actors, associa tions and organizations and its activities are directed toward specific in terests (Wilkinson, 19 91). It cuts acro ss other organized groups and across other interaction fields in a local population and inte grates all of these diverse fields into a generalized whole. The theoretical community field emerges when people interact and facilitate th is core element of community.

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18 An important quality of a community fiel d, as defined by Wilkinson (1970), is that its character does not come from the collectiv e properties of its parts, various social fields, but from the outcome of the interaction of these parts. Community field is therefore emergent. As the community field arises out of the vari ous special interest fields in the locality, it asserts comprehensiv e community interests in the various spheres of local activity (Wilkinson, 1991) The key component in this process is the creation and maintenance of linkages and channels of inte raction among social fields that otherwise focus on more limited interests (Bridger and Luloff, 1999). Social field Wilkinson (1991) defines a social field as an unbounded whole or “an emergent structure in a dynamic process of social action.” They are unbounded because the elements that comprise a field are the acts of people and not the physical or symbolic features that are typically used to delineate boundaries. An act can occur in more than one field at a time because social fields are unbounded (Bridger & Luloff, 1999). Social fields, such as schools, government and community groups, are loosely bounded arenas of interaction. Community evolves as members of these fields interact with each other over issues relevant to their mutual intere sts (Wilkinson, 1991). The presence of such fields creates opportunities for collective ac tion, but does not guarant ee or facilitate the emergence of collective action (Luloff & Sw anson, 1995). Field theory is a nondeterministic view focusing on the dynamics of emergence (Wilkinson, 1970). The nature of the emergence of these actions w ithin the socioeconomic context of poverty is of particular interest in this research. A field theoretical or interaction approach is receiving more attention in poverty research. Durlauf (2000) presen ts a new framework for the study of individual behavior

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19 and social interactions. This new approach emphasizes how social context and social interdependencies influence the ways in wh ich individuals make choices. Group-based explanations of poverty have become more impo rtant, due to the increasing evidence that individual-level explanations are inadequate for unders tanding many differences in socioeconomic outcomes. Durlauf argues that socioeconomic outcomes depend upon the composition of the groups which we are memb ers over the course of our lives. Such groups may be defined along many dimensions including ethnicity, the neighborhoods in which we live, our schools, and our places of work (Institute for Research on Poverty, 2005). Durlauf used community interactions us ed as measures of social dynamics within local populations. This provides empirical ev idence for a memberships-based theory of poverty. Social Movement Social movement theory identifies commun ity as a geographic place, the bonds that people share, the shared concerns about spec ific issues, and a se t of obligations and responsibilities people as sume (Rubin & Rubin, 2001). From this perspective, community organizing is about solving pr esent day problems (Rubin & Rubin, 2001). Several theoretical frameworks have emerged from broad social movement theory; including social constructionist a nd new social movement theories (Langman, 2005). New social movement theories focus on collective identity a nd participation in collective action (Langman, 2005). These theories tend to va lue participatory, democratic relations and decentralized forms of organization (Castells, 1997). Social movement researchers often focus on the factors that motivate people to take part in collectiv e action. Questions of when and how people come to join social movements, or form them in the first place, can be approached from both a macrolevel

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20 and a microlevel perspectiv e (McAdam, McCarthy, & Zal d, 1988). Typically, people tend to associate with peopl e similar to themselves (Klandermans, 1992, pp. 88). From the microlevel perspective, people particip ate when they are closely linked to the associational movement networks required for action (McAdam, 1994). Face to face interaction is the most effective way of getting people involved in social movements (Clark, 2004). The voluntary association is the basic social infrastructure of a social movement. When individuals participate in voluntary asso ciations they build so cial relationships and access to social resources (Stoll, 2001). Their participation also enhances their social and economic prospects (Stoll, 2001). Social movement theory id entifies organizations as either expressive or instrumental (G ordon & Babchuk, 1959; Woodard, 1986). Social clubs and sports organizations are examples of expressive organizations. They provide pleasurable interaction among members and participants often participate to increase their self-esteem (Stoll, 20 01). Instrumental organizations such as political and PTA associations, are task oriented. People participate to influence the creation or maintenance of a desired condition (Stoll, 2001). Empowerment is the core goal of or ganizing for Rubin and Rubin (2001). Empowerment “is a psychological feeling that individuals have when they believe they can accomplish chosen goals; it is also a poli tical or organizational strength that enables people to collectively carry out their will” (Rubin & Rubi n, 2001, pp. 77). Personal and social changes rely on empowerment (Ba ndura, 1988). Some studies indicate that empowerment operates through the self-efficacy mechanism (Bandura, 1986). People feel empowered when they recognize that th eir contribution helps the group succeed.

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21 Empowerment grows through a positive cycl e where personal and collective successes reinforce one another (Rubin & Rubin, 2001). This cycle can in turn build individual self-efficacy and motivate individuals to act. Community Agency and Action Locality orientation is a cen tral theme in most definitions of community action. Locality typically refers to local identifica tion of actors and bene ficiaries and to the distinctively local nature of problems or goals (Wilkinson, 1970) Martin’s (2003) research confirms that communities regard their locality as a meaningful place for community action to occur. Wilkinson further states that This interest, which local residents have in common whether or not they experience it consciously, is pursued in social interaction and thus is sh ared. This particular shared interest that arises in social in teraction-the shared interest in things localgives the elemen tal bond of the interactional community. (pp. 35, 1991) Residents living in the same locality inev itably interact over common issues and this interaction gives struct ure to local life (Luloff & Br idger, 2003). Individuals and organizations begin to understand common needs and wants when they interact (Kaufman, 1959; Wilkinson, 1979; Luloff & Swanson, 1995). Meeting the needs of local people, especially the needs for co llective involvement over identified common issues, is the importance of community (W ilkinson, 1991). Community agency is the ability or capacity of local people to organize and enhance their available resources to address local issues and problems (Bri dger & Luloff, 1999, Luloff & Bridger, 2003; Luloff & Swanson, 1995).

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22 Community agency as a social phenomenon emerges in the cont ext of a locality’s people, their talents, and their ability to learn and work together toward common goals (Luloff & Swanson, 1995). Thei r collective assets and abilities synergize to develop community agency when residents and groups interact. This reflects not only the motivations for social action, but also the collective capacity of the individual or community for social action. Individuals engage in community action when they exercise their potential capacities and participate in the creation of social structures (Kaufman, 1959; Wilkinson, 1991). Collective action can be a powerful m echanism in achieving social change (Pratkanis & Turner, 1996). Therefore, fostering comm unity agency is a primary objective of community development efforts (Luloff & Bridger, 2003). Communitybased action is the practical application of community agency. Co mmunity action is the process of building social relationships in pursuit of common community interests and maintaining local life (Wilk inson, 1970, 91; Luloff & Bridger, 2003). This kind of focused action is the foundation of the community development process because it represents deliberate and positive efforts designed to meet the general needs of all local residents (Marcus & Brennan, 2005). Community agency and development can be seen as the process of building relationships to increase the cap acity of and use the full human potential of local people. Mobilization for collective action can ge nerate a sense of communion among those actively involved in pursuing a common cause (Summers, 1986). Efforts to help people understand and actualize their individual a nd community potential are essential to motivate people and keep them active in bot h the short and long term. Researchers

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23 uncovered an empirical relationship between the presence of local capitalism and civically engaged localities wi th increased socioeconomic we ll-being in an analysis of over 3,000 U.S. counties (Tolbert, Lyson & Irwi n, 1998). This demonstrates the potential importance of action in poor communities. Figueria-McDonough’s research shows th at organizers must maximize the internal resources that are sp ecial to each community (1995). This includes recognizing the untapped strength of groups surviving in deprived communities as a basis for active empowerment (Figueria-McDonough, 1995). Agency is more than the sum of its parts when communities act (Luloff & Swanson, 1995). Field theory argues that interactions are the building blocks of communities. Interactions contribute to co mmunity agency, the capacity to act, which facilitates constructive community action. Community act ion is measurable and is the primary indicator of the emergence of community in this theory. Community action and development has been examined in past literatu re. Qualitative descriptions of actions in small communities (e.g. Moxley, 1985; Ploch, 1976; Preston, 1983), st atistical analyses of local actions and government programs in samples of municipalities (Hirschl & Summers, 1982; Luloff & Wilkinson, 1979; Ma rtin & Wilkinson, 1984; Wilkinson et al., 1984), and studies of the effects of action programs on community well-being (Johansen & Fuguitt, 1984: 161-82; Kranni ch & Humphrey, 1983; McGran ahan, 1984) are some of the contributions (Wilkinson, 1991). Community agency may entail strong so cial solidarity and a sense of common purpose. However, it may also entail uninspi ring efforts to organize committee meetings to mobilize local capital for business or structural impr ovements (Luloff & Swanson,

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24 1995). These efforts do not take into acc ount the shared needs, interests and understanding of the resident s that comprise a community (Luloff & Swanson, 1995). The macro-structural characteristics of a co mmunity, such as labor force structure, its demographic profile or economic infras tructure, do not in fact reveal the capacity of a community to mobilize their human resources through agency (Luloff & Swanson, 1995). Micro level approaches often involve the exam ination of participa tion by individuals in community-oriented activities providing a mo re in-depth understanding of interpersonal resources (Kasarda & Janowitz, 1974; Riger & Lavrakas, 1981; Goudy, 1990). Community depends on interaction, but this does not mean th at the interaction must have its roots in positive sentiments (Bridger & Luloff, 1999). For example, a community will act when unusual or adverse ev ents threaten local residents (Wilkinson, 1986). Wilkinson argues that the potential fo r community action persists and can come into play at crucial moments when people ac t or react to conditions to enhance their threatened situation ( 1986). Wilkinson contends that community has a nd continues to be an important factor in individual and social well-be ing. This is evident at cruc ial moments, when people act together to express common interests in the place of residence (Wilkinson, 1991). Summers (1985) also maintains that there wi ll be community as a form of collective action as long as there are human beings confronting a harsh physical and social environment. This is because mobilization has its roots in the private troubles of individuals. At the base of these problems are needs for necessary material goods for biological survival and security from phys ical harm (Summers, 1985). Social needs begin to predominate, when these needs are secured (Summers 1986). Individuals

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25 quickly discover that they are not alone when they share their needs with others who share a common space. Private troubles b ecome public issues around which people are able and sometimes willing to mobilize for collective action (Summe rs, 1986). Lack of resources and restricted community developmen t efforts cause individua ls to interact and begin to understand common needs. Agency and the interactional perspectiv e recognize that local people have the power to transform and change society when they work together (Wilkinson, 1991). Wide spread interest, support, and participation in a local action indicates the presence of a viable community (Luloff, 1990). Community Development Local activity is vital fo r community development (Luloff & Swanson, 1995). In turn, fostering community agen cy is central to community development efforts (Luloff & Bridger, 2003). How do we foster community agency to initiate local activity for community development? What are the motivat ions for these actions and interactions? What may prevent people from fostering agen cy and utilizing their human potential and capacities? It is important to clearly identi fy the meanings of the fairly common phrases, community development, development of community and development in community. Community development is the process of building relationships that increase the adaptive capacity of people who share common territory relationships (Luloff &Bridger, 2003). Fields of locality-oriented action emer ge out of the interactions among a local population when this happens (Wilkinson, 1991; Luloff & Bridger, 2003). The development in community is distinctly di fferent from the development of community (Kaufman, 1959). Development in community is cultivating the social processes which take place in a locality and accomplishing other tangible development tasks like

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26 economic growth, modernization, and impr oved social services (Summers, 1986). Development of community is the emerge nce of the theoretical community field (Wilkinson, 1991). However, Wilkinson notes that development in community may facilitate the development of community, and th at this is needed to improve social wellbeing (1991). Luloff and Wilkinson (1979) and Martin a nd Wilkinson (1984) found that both the structural components of a community and meas ures of community solidarity contributed significantly, though independent ly, to creating community development. Lloyd and Wilkinson’s (1985) study highlights the str ong relationship between community activity and development of community, but the leve l of local economic well-being tends to increase with community activity and solidarity. Hirschl and Summers found that citizen groups, orga nized for local economic development, were the single most significant determinant of job growth in 44 Wisconsin communities (1983). Their findings show how the foundation of community action and the presence of community can facilitate de velopments in community. This underscores the dynamic relationship between these two c oncepts. Economic development tops the list of local officials’ percei ved needs. There is a strong market for this localized approach to development (Camasso & Moore, 1985; Reinhard & Summers, 1985). Well-being is directly enhanced when communities exhibit agency and work together to solve common problems and develop community (Bridger & Luloff, 1999, 2001; Luloff, 1998; Luloff & Swanson, 1995; Wilk inson, 1991). Claude et al. confirmed this relationship through a study of rural co mmunities in Pennsylvania (2000). They found that residents rated co mmunity well-being higher in communities characterized by

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27 high levels of activity (2000). Community we ll-being was not correlated with success. Residents were more likely to have higher pe rceived social well-bei ng than residents in communities with high levels of success and lo w levels of activity in those places with high levels of activity and low levels of success in community development efforts (Luloff, 1998). The positive correlation between community activity and community well-being underscores the importance of building the capacity for community activity in community development efforts. Community development efforts and community activity can be useful in improving th e quality of life in poor neighborhoods. The collective capacity of volition and choice, however narrowed by structural conditions, makes the notion of commun ity agency important in understanding community well-being. Like i ndividuals, communities make choices and act on them. How they make these choices, how their percep tions of local issues are constructed, and the ability of the members of the community to find and process information are important factors in the use of their econom ic and social resources (Luloff & Swanson, 1995). The primary focus of this research will be on the motivations of agency and action on the individual level and the c oncepts that shape these motivations. Motivations and Barriers to Community Action Barriers and motivations to participati on coalesce and reinforce one another because people are capable of overcoming barriers when they are highly motivated (Klandermans, 1987). The main strategies to mobilize residents for a movement are to maintain and/or increase motivation and/or to remove barriers (Klandermans, 1987). Excluding residents from participation is a ba rrier. In order to enhance motivation or decrease barriers, research and knowledge of these two factor s are needed. Few

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28 longitudinal studies about inte nded and actual participation limit the discussion of these motivations and barriers to pa rticipation (Klandermans, 1987). Motivations for Action Klandermans developed a model of soci al movement participation, based on a comprehensive review of pert inent research examining an individual approach or microlevel participation in social movements. The model includes four steps; (a) becoming part of the mobilization potential, (b) beco ming a target of mobilization attempts, (c) becoming motivated to participate, and (d) overcoming barriers to participation (1997 ;Klandermans & Oegema, 1987 ). Research ab out mobilization and participation during the Dutch peace movement identified that the motivation to participate was primarily a result of collective incenti ves (Klandermans & Oemega, 1987). This underscores the importance of the forces that shape the th ird step in Klandermans’ model and the objective of this research. In his model, motivation or willingness to participate in a specific collective action is a function of the e xpected costs and benef its of participation (Simon et al., 1998). The goal of the movement is the collective good. Those who identify with the movement's cause benefit from attaining this goal, even if they individually did not partic ipate in the collective acti on (Klandermans, 1987). Noncontributors that may ultimately benefit fr om these actions are termed free-riders. People derive part of their self-worth a nd esteem from their membership in groups and communities, according to social psyc hological theories of identity (Hogg & Abrams, 1988; Tajfel & Turner, 1986). People will voluntarily participate or join when they feel a social identificati on with a group or cause. This behavior is an indication of the strong identificati on (Klandermans, 2002). In a st udy about group iden tification and the explanation of participat ion in protest, Klandermans (2002) found that identification

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29 predicts participation in action efforts and helps to overcome lack of participation in community action (Klandermans, 2002). For example, Simon et al. observed that identification with the gay movement or with unions of the elde rly predicted protest participation better than identification with the broader categories of gay and the elderly in general (1998). Similarly, in the contex t of the women’s movement, willingness to participate in collective action directly incr eased with members’ collective identification as women (Kelly & Breinlinger, 1995). Ideological and social incentives were also primary motivations to act in the peace movement. The increased interactions of pa rticipants and the importance of informal social networks created incentives in these s ituations (Klandermans, 1987). The authors relate their findings to Azje n and Fishbein’s theory of reasoned action (1989). The collective motive and the potential rewards of the action determine together the attitude toward participation in collective acti on (Azjen & Fishbein, 1989). Attitude and subjective norm codetermine the intention or willingness to partic ipate in collective action. High social support conditions act as a mo tivation to grassroots action and provide a means by which residents can fulfill their neighborhood responsibilit ies in a satisfactory way (Vasoo, 1991). Social support refers to the degree of cooperation of leaders, degree of participation by residents, degree of assistance from government, and the financial ability of the grassroots organization (Vasoo, 1991). Therefore, inadequate social support adversely affects citizen participation. Researchers found that the majority of people were motivated by community concern in a study of motivati ons to volunteering with AIDS victims (Omoto & Snyder,

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30 2002). People also volunteer to express personal values or huma nitarian duties, or due to the influence of other partic ipating members in their community. This model describes the community as providing a backdrop for groups, organizations and individuals to participate in community volunteer activities. The goal is to promote some form of social change while potentially increasing societal cooperation and civic participation (Omoto & Snyder, 2002). In field theory research, bot h macro-level structural forces, as well as interactional factors were found to have independent infl uence on participation in a flood insurance program (Luloff & Wilkinson, 1979). Co mmunity involvement is defined as participation in community oriented activities (Kaufman, 1977; Wilkinson, 1991). Individual level participa tion, memberships, and activity with community groups are measures of involvement (Kasarda & Janow itz, 1974; Riger & Lavrakas, 1981; Sampson, 1988; Wilkinson, 1991; Luloff & Swanson, 1995). A variety of factors influence community action. This review has revealed the following factors that can motivate individuals to participate in community action: Social attachment, ideological attachment, collec tive incentive, social support, community concern and humanitarian duties. Additio nal research about motivations for action suggests that the most significant predic tors are social in teraction, community attachment, and self-efficacy. Social interaction Participation in community based organi zations and groups facilitate social interaction. Interaction between and am ong social groups promotes community development and identity (Wilkinson, 1991). Knowledge of the relationships among individuals and organizations in a community provides in formation for predicting the

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31 range and/or breadth of potential community responses to local problems, both in the long and short run (Luloff, 1990). Interaction wi th community members is a factor in the literature about community action (Kaufman 1977, Wilkinson, 1991; Luloff & Swanson, 1995). Connections and interactions with in the community increase communication between community members. This provides support and co nsensus for solving local problems and overcoming barriers to e ffective action (Simon et al., 1998). Community attachment Attachment transcends the simple shar ing of space by local inhabitants, and provides a social and psychologi cal bond that serves as the ba sis for social interaction (Wilkinson, 1991). Previous research suggest s a linkage between community attachment and community action because attachment infl uences the extent to which residents are willing to interact and participate in community based efforts (Hummon, 1990; Wilkinson, 1991; Theodori, 2000; Theodori & Lulo ff, 2000). Attachment may also affect community action as an outcome (Wirt h, 1938; Kasarda & Janow itz, 1974). Martin (2003) emphasizes the importance of “placeframing” or neighborhood identification in initiating community action in his study of 4 grassroots a ssociations in St. Paul Minnesota. Empirical studies have examined factors related to community attachment. These include duration of local residence (Austin & Baba 1990; Goudy, 1990; Kasarda & Janowitz, 1974; St. John, Austin, & Ba ba, 1986; Theodori & Luloff, 2000); home ownership and race (Austin & Baba, 1990); in come and number of children living at home (Riger & Lavrakas, 1981); age and leve l of education (Riger & Lavrakas, 1981; Stinner et al., 1990; Theodori & Luloff, 2000) ; social interactions (Theodori & Luloff,

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32 2000); and marital status, presence of child ren, children's ages, and religious status (Stinner et al., 1990). Relevant research about i ndividual’s community attachment is important for understanding participation in communal and ci vic activities and general mental health (Davidson & Cotter 1989, 1991; Pretty, 1990; Pr etty, Conroy, Dugay, Fowler & Williams 1996; Pretty& McCarthy, 1991; Prezza & Consta ntini, 1998). Indi vidual sense of community references a specific place or geogr aphic identity (Pretty et al., 1996). People are more likely to improve their local c onditions and the conditions of their fellow community members when they feel that they are a part of a community (Omoto & Snyder, 2002). The increased resources, conf idence and esteem that come from the experience of community reinforce indivi duals’ psychological empowerment (Corrigan, Faber, Rashid & Leary, 1999). Community provides a source of collective self-esteem and valued social identity for individuals when they identify with and connect to their locality (Crocker & Luhtanen, 1990). Community members develo p increased feelings of efficacy and accomplishment when a community is successf ul in organized action (Hughey et al., 1999). Community based volunteer associations grew out of attempts to change aspects of the locality in a study of locally oriented vol unteer activity in work ing with AIDS issues (Omoto & Snyder, 2002). This is because par ticipants lived near each other and shared community identity characteris tics such as minority status, job classification or housing block (Omoto & Snyder, 2002). These comm unity action structures were created, developed and maintained to serve the purpos es of community change (Omoto & Snyder,

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33 2002; Hughey, Speer & Peterson, 1999). Identity coupled with a local ity creates a sense of community attachment. Other research points to the powerful effect s of a shared community attachment. In a laboratory study, researchers stressed a common fate among a group of unrelated individuals and cooperation wa s cultivated from of this social dilemma (Brewer & Kramer, 1986; De Cremer & Van Vugt, 1999). I ndividuals begin to see that what is good for the collective community is also good fo r them. Additionally, the presence of a common feature, even if triv ial, among a group of people will foster group cooperation (Ellemers, Wilke & Van Knippenberg, 1993). Th e closer people feel to an issue, category, identity or other group distinction, th e more likely they are to participate in actions to better their quality of life. Efficacy Bandura (1986) defines self efficacy as “P eople’s judgments of their capabilities to organize and execute courses of action required to attain designated types of performances. It is concerned not with the sk ills one has, but with judgments of what one can do with whatever skills one possesses.”(pp.11 ). Self-efficacy, the belief that one has the capability to perform a pa rticular behavior, is an im portant construct in social psychology (Compeau & Higgins, 1995). Self-e fficacy perceptions influence decisions about what behaviors to unde rtake (e.g. Bandura et al., 1977; Betz & Hackett, 1981), the effort exerted and persistence in attempti ng those behaviors (e.g. Barling & Beattie, 1983; Brown & Inouye, 1978), the emotional re sponses of the individual performing these behaviors (e.g. Bandura et al., 1977; Stumpf et al., 1987), and the actual performance attainments of the individual with respect to the beha vior (e.g. Barling & Beattie, 1983; Locke et al., 1984, Sc hunk, 1981; Wood & Bandura, 1989). The broad

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34 application of self-efficacy across diverse domains of behavior contributes to its popularity in contemporary motivation research (Graham & Weiner, 1996). There are four main influences on self-effi cacy. The most effective way of creating a strong sense of efficacy is through master y experiences (Bandura, 1994). Individuals “gauge the effects of their act ions, and their interpretations of these effects help create their efficacy beliefs.” (Pajares, 1997, pp.3) This concept relates to community involvement. Researchers found that the be st predictors for community action and participation in a flood insurance program fo r low socioeconomic status residents were previous experience in community action and previous experience handling floods (Luloff & Wilkinson, 1979). The second way of creating efficacy is through vicarious experience. Seeing similar people succeed by “s ustained effort raises observers beliefs that they too possess the capabi lities” to succeed at the gi ven task (Bandura, 1994, pp.72). Verbal persuasions from others also are a so urce of self efficacy beliefs. They are a weaker source of efficacy beliefs than the two former sources, but persuaders can play an important role in the development of these be liefs (Bandura, 1994). The final source of efficacy beliefs in Bandura’s model is one’s ps ychological state. Anxiety, stress, arousal or fatigue can alter individual thinking and efficacy beliefs (Pajares, 1997). Self-efficacy influences choices about which behaviors to undertake, the effort and persistence exerted in the face of obstacles to the performa nce of these behaviors, and ultimately the mastery of the behaviors (Compeau & Higgins, 1995). There are three distinct but interrelated dimens ions of self efficacy. (1) Magn itude refers to the level of task difficulty an individual feels is atta inable (2) Strength refers to the level of conviction one has about their judgment (3) Gene ralizability indicates the extent to which

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35 perceptions of self-efficacy are limited to particular situations (Compeau & Higgins, 1995). An important factor in accomplishing change is a sense of self -efficacy, or a feeling that something can be done (Bandura, 1989). Pratkanis and Turner examined the failure to achieve widespread change during antinucle ar activism in America (1996). The failure was apparently due to the widespread belief that the problem was so immense, it would be pointless to try (Pra tkanis & Turner, 1996). Belief in th e impact of one’s actions is an indicator of self-efficacy. However, additi onal research found th at peace workers who were highly active in the movement had hi gh levels of personal and group efficacy (Edwards & Oskamp, 1992). Bandura identifies four major efficacy-ac tivated psychological processes (1994). Cognitive processes include personal goal setting, visualization of success, problem solving, task orientation and resiliency. I ndividuals with a sense of efficacy “will set challenging goals and use good analytic th inking which pays off in performance accomplishments.” (Bandura, 1994, pp. 73). Motivational processes occur when people form beliefs about what they can do, they anti cipate likely outcomes of their actions, and plan courses of action to real ize their future plans. Peopl e with a strong efficacy exert greater effort when they do not master th e task at hand. Their strong perseverance contributes to task achievement. Affectiv e processes include peoples coping capabilities and how much stress, anxiety and depressi on they feel in threatening or difficult situations. Perceived self-efficacy helps regula te anxiety arousal. The stronger the sense of self-efficacy, the more courageous an i ndividual will be in taking on taxing and threatening activities. Selection proce sses influence the type s of activities and

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36 environments people choose. People may avoi d tasks that they deem too advanced for their capabilities, but they will “readily unde rtake challenging activities and select situations they judge themselves cap able of handling” (Bandura, 1994, pp.77). Pajares concisely describes th e effects of high self-efficacy Self-efficacy beliefs help determine how much effort people will expend on an activity, how long they will persevere when confronting obstacles, and how resilient they will prove in the face of a dverse situationsthe higher the sense of efficacy, the greater the effort, pers istence and resili ence. (1997, pp. 4). Additionally, Pajares states that individuals with a strong sense of personal competence and efficacy have greater intrinsic interest in activities, set challenging goals and maintain a strong commitment to them, heighten their e fforts in the face of failure, more easily recover their confidence after setbacks, and attribute failure to insufficient effort or deficient knowledge and skills which they believe they are capable of acquiring.” (1997, pp.4). I will examine the levels of self-efficacy of community members living in poor neighborhoods. By understanding their efficacy, I can understand how this may shape community members decisions to perform community actions in the face of poverty. Community action stems out of one’s poten tial or capacity to act. A further understanding of the person’s belief in their capacity to act should provide insight about the motivations for community action. Barriers to Action Action episodes cannot occur without huma n involvement. It is important to develop an understanding of how such actions evolve (Luloff, 1990). The political openness of a community’s democratic struct ure may encourage and facilitate local participation across diverse fields of intere st (Luloff, 1990). Martin and Wilkinson uncovered the important interactive eff ect between socioeconomic status and

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37 participation in a public affairs program ( 1984). Community members with low income had low participatory skills and low community activity as well. These barriers disenfranchise entire segments of a comm unity population, who in turn become excluded from community processes, and can adversel y affect community development activities (Martin and Wilkinson, 1985). Isolation in rural areas pose s a serious threat to the well-being of its residents (Wilkinson, 1991). In a study of differ ent poor neighborhoods, Figeuria-McDonough confirmed information originally reporte d by the National Res earch Council (1993). Poverty rates have remained fairly cons tant, but poverty has become increasingly spatially concentrated (1995). She found that segregation (raci al isolation, essentially) is one of three key indicators of social disorganization str ongly associated with poverty levels over time (Figueria-McDonough, 1995). In rural areas, the principal barriers to community interaction are deficiencies in resources for meeting needs and inadequate social infrastructure for se rvices (Wilkinson, 1991). Wilson and others point to the causal role of social isolation in produc ing large-scale socioeconomic problems (1987, 1996; Anderson, 1999). Luloff and Swanson discuss community partic ipation and the barriers to activity in their 1995 article “Community Agency a nd Disaffection: Enhancing Collective Resources.” They argue that the relationship between co mmunity participation, local democratic institutions, and the degree to which citizens feel a sense of community ownership reflects the degree to which citizens believe they are a part of the local decision-making process. Citizens are then willing to accept and act on local decisions, and this allows the community greater access to its human resources (Luloff & Swanson,

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38 1995). This enhances community agency. A redistributive effect of community development activities will likely occur when efforts are made to enfranchise those formerly removed from the decision maki ng process (Luloff & Swanson, 1995). Periods of social and economic crisis can enhance the potential for community action (Ravitz, 1982). Additionally, when democracy, choice, and information are maximized, the potential for the expression of individual a nd community agency is highest (Luloff & Swanson, 1995). Frequently, the barriers to community acti on arise from lack of resources to meet needs and inadequate social infrastructure of service, associati ons, and channels for collective action (Wilkinson, 1991) Rothman (1975) found that the inverse relationship between poverty and formal networks of soci al interaction was due mostly to lack of resources, reinforced by lack of experien ce and task orientation among the impoverished population. Klandermans identified potential barriers to actio n as “perceived inefficacy of collective action, distrust of the behavior of others, or costs of par ticipation that are not outweighed by benefits.” (Klandermans, 1987, pp. 529). A low sense of community action self-efficacy can be a barrier to action. Racism, sexism, ageism, uncritical accep tance of authority, and other social characteristics that are reprodu ced through agents of sociali zation create serious barriers to community agency (Luloff & Swanson, 1995). The quality of life improves when the barriers to community interacti on are reduced in eith er rural or urban settings (Wilkinson, 1991). Culture is independent of economic and social structures, but it interacts with these structures and therefore is of great importance in making sense of community development processes (Luloff & Swanson, 1995).

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39 Poverty The poverty rate in 2003 was 12.5%, up from 12.1% in 2002 (U.S. Census, 2005). This translates to about 35.9 million people living in poverty, up 1.3 million from 2002. If we include the “near poor”, the percenta ge of the population whose income is .01 to 25% more than the poverty threshold increases 4.5% or by nearly 13 million people. These trends place increasing pressures on nation al and state legislators to become more responsive to the practical proble ms of society (Summers, 1986) The lives of Americans have become incr easingly socially co mplex the 1970's due to the loss of 10 to 15 hours per week of leisure time (Harris, 1987). Making a living demands more time and energy and takes lo cal citizens away from grassroots action (Flacks, 1988). In his book The Politics of Poverty, Donovan very clearly articulates the experience of poverty in America. Poverty in the United States, if it means anything, decrees that its victims shall not participate in the diverse opportunities which the world’s richest economy provides almost as a matter of course for those m illions of its citizens who are not poor. As a social phenomenon, poverty in this country means poor schools, bad neighborhoods, some of the worst housing in Western industrialized civilization, poor health, and extraordin arily poor prospects for e ffecting any fundamental change in the system. (1967, pp. 93-94). In the 1960's the Lyndon Johnson admini stration recognized the problem and created a “War on Poverty”. One of the most important pieces of Lyndon Johnson’s administration was the creation of the Econom ic Opportunity Act. This legislation established the Community Action Program (CAP) to encourage local communities to define their own priorities in solving local problems. The act stated that agencies must be “developed, conducted and administered with the maximum feasible participation of residents of the areas and members of the groups being served.” (Economic Opportunity

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40 Act 1964; Adler 1994). In a testimony before C ongress to encourage passage of the Act, Attorney General Robert Kennedy explained the requirement of “maximum feasible participation” as The institutions which affect the poor-e ducation, welfare, recreation, business, laborare huge, complex structures, operating far outside their control. They plan programs for the poor, but not with them. Part of the sense of helplessness and futility comes from the feeling of powerlessness to affect the operation of these organizations. The community action programs must basi cally change these organizations by building into the program real representa tion for the poor. This bill calls for, “maximum feasible participation of reside nts.” This means the involvement of the poor in planning and implementing programs: giving them a real voice in their institutions. (1964). This act, and Kennedy’s comments, fram es the contemporary approach to community development. Distress Although poverty might seem as an easily understood concept, researchers use a variety of methods to define poverty. Roos a and colleagues identify measures used to study the poverty experience (2005). One is an income-based approach, like the federal government’s definition of the poverty thresh old (Roosa et al., 2005). Economic distress is economic pressure or hardship that resu lts in psychological di stress from financial difficulties (Barrera et al., 2002). Other dist ress measures are hunger and food insecurity, and social exclusion (Roosa et al, 2005). Distress is defined as the different experiences of communities based on high unemployment, low income, high poverty, uns table economics, population outmigration and other socioeconomic problems (Glasmei er, Wood & Fuellhart, 2006). However, there currently is no universally accepted meas ure of distress. A survey of agencies in 1995 suggested that a diverse set of agencies at the federal and state levels makes

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41 distinctions among locations based on th e severity of economic circumstances (Fullenbaum & McNeill, 1995). In a study on co mmunity distress, researchers used three different measures to understand the severity of this concept. They found that regardless of the measure used, there is a core pool of long-term econo mically distressed counties in the United States. (Glasmeier et al., 2006). Crowder and South (2003) discuss the most common measures of distress. These focus on census tract poverty rates and pove rty population concen tration within and across tracts of indivi dual cities or metropolitan areas. Other indicators of distress are disproportionately high rates of poverty, jobl essness, female-headed families, teenage school dropout rates and welfare receipt (R ickets & Sawhill, 1988). Hughes calls these tracts “deprivation neighborhoods” (1989). Severely di stressed neighborhoods are those tracts that have all character istics of distressed tracts pl us exceptionally high teenage school dropout rates (Crowder & South, 2003). Crowder and South (2003) conducted a study on the relationship between neighborhood distress and academic achievement They found that the detrimental impact of neighborhood socioeconomic distre ss on school dropout increased significantly over the past quarter-century. They suggest th at this is a probable repercussion of the increasing geographic concentration of urban poverty.

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42 CHAPTER 3 METHODS This chapter discusses the methods and proce dures of the research. First I describe my research approach and design and site sele ction. I then describe the methods of data collection which include sampling, and the two st ages of data collection. Lastly, the data analysis methods are described at the end of the chapter. Approach Grounded theory approaches facilitate the examination of a wide range of conceptual possibilities in community action re search. In this appr oach, the researcher selects participants based on an identified outcome va riable and then gathers data that is used to describe, conceptuali ze and relate the data through a theoretical lens to better understand the phenomena in question. The phe nomena under study in this project were potential motivations for community action. The wide range of concepts and relati onships possible in a community action dynamic should be understood holistically, th en inductively grounded into theoretical relationships to attain the individual-level insight requi red to address the research question. This is because, “When theory is derived from data, it is more likely to resemble the raw social reality, rather than using theory to specul ate reality.” (Strauss & Corbin, 1998, pp. 24). This epistemological approach creates a methodological coherence. This is when the research question matche s the components of the data collection methods and methods of analysis (Morse et al., 2002). Scientific rigo r is achieved through this and

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43 other verification strategies out lined in this section in order to enhance the validity and reliability of the data and analysis for this study (Morse et al., 2002). Case studies can be used to obtain “the intricate details about phenomena such as feelings, thought processes, and emotions that are difficult to extract or learn about through more conventional research methods.” (Strauss & Corbin, 1998, pp. 11). Understanding people’s thoughts and motivations behind their community actions requires th is kind of data. A multiple case study design is appropriate for this research question because I selected the dependent variable (community activity) a priori and this design lets me focus on cases of interest. Additionally, a case study is “an empi rical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context, especially when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly ev ident.” (Yin, 2003, pp. 13). Case studies permit researchers to incl ude a large number of va riables in order to understand the way in which they interrelate (de Vaus, 2001). A qualitative approach frequently uses this design because it allows the inclusion of a large number of variables. Theory building case studies, as defined by de Vaus (2001), are used to help develop and refine the relations hips that exist within a case and create a theory that articulates the observed social phenomena. This is where we begin with a basic inquiry, look at real cases and then establish a mo re specific set of propositions after data collection and analysis (de Vaus, 2001). In th is case, the researcher will ground the data to relevant, empirically tested community science theory. Yin (1989) distinguishes the difference between holistic and embedded units of analysis. There is no holistic unit in th is study; the comprehensive context is a community in a mid-sized south east University city. This level of abstraction permits me

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44 to gather a variety of information in order to fully understand and describe the community as a whole. The un its of analysis are the indivi dual residents who live in the community. Individual residents provide the data based on their interactions within the community. These cases are then compiled to create a comprehensive perspective of the community. The selection of units provide s a strong foundation for the case study design because as described earlier, people and th eir interactions are the core elements of community. Site Selection The most important need for a successful case study is to find cases that will provide a valid and challenging test of theo ry (de Vaus, 2001). The community for the study was selected for a variety of reasons in cluding a history of co mmunity action in the context of poverty. Context of Poverty The community meets all of the qualifi cations of a community plagued by persistent poverty. Community action increase s social and material well-being. It is therefore important to unde rstand how these actions occu r in poor neighborhoods to address the needs of residents. A study conducted by CACI Marketing Syst ems in 2000, as well as ESRI Business Solution in 2004 provided a comprehensive soci odemographic analysis of the county in order to restructure and focus the county’s strategic plan. This yielded valuable descriptive information about the population of the study and articulated the level of poverty in some parts of the county. The area under study has th e lowest per capita income of the county at $12,512 and a medi an household income of $26,241 which is

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45 72.6% of the state’s median income. The ge ographic area for the study was identified by local government zoning and planning maps as a community redevelopment area. Of the adult population of 10,523, 31.7% of i ndividuals and 29.2% of families live below the poverty level (Census Bureau, 2000). Forty-four percent of children (age 017), 26.6% of adults (18-64) and 16.4% of se nior citizens live in poverty in the area. The population has a relatively high concen tration of African-American residents (77%). Twenty-one percent are white, .2% are Asian-Pacific Islande r, and 2% are other races. Nearly half the population is betw een 25 and 64 years of age. Thirty-seven percent of all families are female headed fam ilies (FHF). Fifty-nine% of all FHF live in poverty and 73.5% of these families have childr en under the age of five. The area also has the highest percentage of people without a high school diploma in the county, 30%, well above the national percentage at 19.6% (Census Bureau, 2000). History of Community Action The fact that they community is poor doe s not fully justify its relevance to the study. Preliminary research and experience in the locality under study uncovered important community action history. Community organi zation and activity at the grassroots level has increased in this co mmunity over the past quarter century. The subsequent increased attention to this area from the rest of the city might be due to the residents taking initiative, becoming aware of what is going on, and expressing the situation and needs of the community to the city and county commission. One of the most striking examples of co mmunity action is the increasing number of neighborhood crime watch groups and community a ssociations within th e past ten years; indicating the manifestation of community ac tivity. Within the area there are seven

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46 identified active neighborhood asso ciations/crime watch groups represented in this study. There are about 20 formal and in formal neighborhood organizations. Methods The research occurred in a two-stage process. The first stage consisted of interviews with community key informants. The second stage was personal interviews with the leaders of the 1520 existing neighborhood watch orga nizations identified in the locality. Key informants can play a crucial role in providing detailed information about actions and events across a community (Bridgeland & Sofranko, 1975; Clark, 1968; Claude et al., 2000; Krannich & Humphrey, 1986) If selected carefully, key informants provide insight into community processes th at are not available from other sources (Schwartz, Bridger & Hyman, 2001). Key informan ts such as elected officials, planners, business leaders, community organizers, nonprofit agency representatives, neighborhood representatives and re ligious leaders are essential to gather the community wide information needed to fully explain the cont ext of this community (Schwartz, Bridger & Hyman, 2001). The accessible population of key informants was people living or working in the community under study who are knowledgeable of, or involved in, local grassroots community development efforts. The sampli ng frame included leaders or representatives of the local neighborhood groups, as well as people from various institutions and programs that work directly with the community under study. The names of key informants were obtained through public lists from the local police department and the community resource center at the University. Some key informants were identified through snowball sampling wherein key inform ants were asked at the end of their

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47 interview if they could recommend any ot her people in the community who could provide information. Sampling Based on the information and understanding of the community gained from stage one, one of the prominent themes which recurre d in the data was that the best asset or resource in the community was its people, more specifically, the leaders of community groups. I decided to focus on the motiv ations to commun ity action of only active members in the community so that the research focus could be the im portant resources of local leaders. The most important group of local leaders is th e organizers of the grassroots neighborhood watch and community associations, the sampling frame for the second stage. Many of the key informants pointed to the neighborhood watch and community association leaders as the most important leaders in the community. They associated these leaders with community activity and community development. Key informant data helped to select neighborhood watch leaders as the sample for stage two. Stage 1: Key informant intervie ws for questionnaire development I completed 15-20 key informant interviews over a two-month period for the first phase of research. The information collected from key informants provided context and insight into the community, the ho listic unit of analysis, and also served to tailor the tone, content and personalization of the semi-structure d interview questionnaire that utilized in the second phase of data collection. Some ex amples of what key informants were asked during this procedure are: How important do you feel th at the participation of local individuals is to community development efforts? What is likely to happen to the local quality of life during the next five years? What programs or policies have been implem ented in the past five to ten years to improve the quality of life in your community?

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48 The full interview protocol is in appendix A. General probes (i.e. “tell me more about that”) and specific pr obes such as “why do you think these problems exist,” were used to obtain the depth needed to more fully explore the research questions. These interviews helped clarify language, history, culture and common phrases in the community, increasing the reliability of the instrument used in stage two. The response patterns that emerged from these in terviews led to a bett er understanding of important topics in the community and serv ed to guide the development of the items included in the interview used in the second stage of th e data collection process. Stage 2: Local leaders of neighborhood watch organizations This stage of data collecti on consisted of 15-20 focused interviews with the leaders of the neighborhood watch organizations in th e community. Focused interviews suit a case study design. The goal of case studies is to understand a phenomena in its real life context, which can be done through interviews since the primary focus is, “to generate data which gives an authentic insight into peoples experiences” (M iller & Glassner, 1997, pp. 126). Researchers use “qualitative interv iewing because it provides us with a means for exploring the points of view of our research subjects, while granting these points of view the culturally honored status of reality” (Miller & Glassner, 1997, pp. 127). Process I first contacted participants with a letter describing the purpose of the research project. I made a follow-up phone call to each po tential participant to set up interviews at their residences or in public establishments such as the downtown library or community centers. I conducted personal interviews, which la sted from 30-100 minut es at a location identified by the subject. Semi-standardized interviews use a number of predetermined

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49 questions and identified topics (Berg, 2004). The interview style was conversational, but followed a specific set of questions based on the key informant interviews from the case study protocol (Yin, 2003). I typically aske d these questions in the same order, but “interviewers are allowed freedom to digress; that is, the interviewers are permitted (in fact, expected) to probe far beyond the answer s” to the prepared questions (Berg, 2004, pp. 81). I wanted to allow for the free flow of information and description of the participant’s experience using an open re sponse format, but also ask specific demographic information making the design semi-standardized. The protocol for stage two used some of the questions from the key informant protocol, and new questions were developed to address the nature and scope of the motivations to grassroots community action. I developed questions from a multistage development process as recommended by Berg ( 2004). First I created a list of concepts and theoretical frameworks from the commun ity action literature that I wanted to empirically test. I developed several ques tions for each concept. An expert panel reviewed the draft questions to develop the final questions The questions and their corresponding theory are availa ble in Appendix B. I put th e questions in order through discussion with the expert panel and assemble d them into the schedule in Appendix A. The theoretical basis for each question probe s into the concepts under examination as predictors of and motivations to community action. An additional theory was used to develop the semi-structured questionnaire for the second stage to focus more closely on pred ictors and motivations for action. An ecological framework of citizen participati on relates participation to the physical, economic and social environmental contexts as predictors for partic ipation in grassroots

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50 community organizing (Perkins et al., 1996). (Complete protocol of stage 2 can be found in Appendix A). Precision is an important standard for rese arch. The questions used in this study did not provide highly precise data, but they provided detailed understanding of the dependent variable. Interviewing is useful for investigators who are interested in understanding people’s perceptions to learn how people come to attach certain meanings to phenomena or events (Taylor & Bogdan, 1998, pp. 98). Open response questions in a semi-structured schedule in a personal interview venue was the best method for understanding peoples reasoning and logic behi nd the concepts, and therefore precision was not a priority in this study. The principal investigator was the only person conducting interviews in order to increase reliability. The principal inves tigator advised the pa rticipants concerning consent to participation at the start of the interview. The investigator answered any questions before the participants signed th e statement of consent. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim to allow for an in-depth analysis. Data Analysis The data analysis consists of content an alysis of the verbatim interview scripts (Travis et al., 2000). This allowed me to make valid inferences from the semi-structured interview data (Weber, 1990). This is a tech nique for systematically describing the form and content of written or spoken material and is frequently used to codify the responses to open-ended questions (Weber, 1990). Strauss and Corbin divide data into four levels of abstraction starting with codes, the basic cu es taken verbatim from the data (1998). Codes are placed into categories, and then pl aced in themes which compose the larger central phenomenon under study (Strauss & Corb in, 1998). The central phenomenon is

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51 community action for this study. Throughout the process the researcher relates the themes and categories to one a nother and the central phenomenon. Data analysis also used the comparativ e technique of constant comparison, or systematic comparison. This technique co mpares phenomena in the data with other experiences, concepts from the literature or in the data to suggest categories, properties and propositional statements about the subjec t under inquiry (Glaser& Strauss, 1995; Strauss & Corbin, 1998). This process he lps the analyst understand the phenomena through its properties and dimensions in order to see how this concept emerges from the data in varying conditions (Strauss & Corb in, 1998). The constant comparison method helps to create close connections between th e data and theory in an inductive process because the analyst is forced to consider th e scope of diversity in the data (Glaser & Strauss, 1995). Glaser and Strauss delineate four stages of the constant comparison method; (1) comparing incidents applicable to each category, (2) integrating categories and their properties, (3) delimiting the th eory, and (4) writing the theory (1995). Pyett describes the role of the researcher in the analysis process as follows The researcher’s task is not to dis tinguish between reliable and unreliable informants but to apply sociological theor y, together with additional historical and contextual information, to develop an understanding that reaches beyond the perspective of the participants. The theoreti cal insights that the researcher brings to the interpretation should be not only of acad emic interest but also, he or she hopes, ultimately of benefit to the participants or their community. (2003, pp.1173). Following this type of analysis philosophy, I allowed the concepts to emerge from the interview data, and then grounded the pheno mena into the theories described in the review of literature. This yielded impor tant information about the facilitation and cultivation of grassroots part icipation in poor communities.

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52 Data analysis was concurrent with data collection because the I transcribed and coded data after each day of interviews. This “forms a mutual interaction between what one knows and what one needs to know.” (Morse et al., 2002, pp.12). The iterative process of data collection and analysis occurring at the same time is very important to reliability and validity (Morse et al., 2002). Two other research colleagues reviewed the data and my content analysis of codes and categories to enhance reliability (Huberman & Miles, 1994). There were few disagreements about the content analysis and the final analysis is described in chapter four. The primary data analysis was conducted w ith the Stage 2 inte rview data of the neighborhood watch group leaders. I conduc ted and transcribed 16 interviews. The lengths of the transcripts ranged from thr ee pages to eight pages (single spaced, 12 pt. font). I went through each transcript, que stion by question, and following the content analysis method, coded each datum onto an index card. I labeled the cards on the upper right hand corner with the que stion number and subject numbe r to organize the data by question (or concept), as well as for easy refe rence to the original transcript for quotes and clarification. Approximately 450 codes emer ged from the data. I placed codes into categories, and then organized categories into themes. I de scribe the findings through the question number and order of the interview schedule. The following chapters will explain and describe the data in the context of relevant theory. This will complete the grounded th eory process and enhance our understanding of the community action phenomenon.

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53 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS I will describe the results and analysis in this section. Table 2 presents the results in summary form. First, I will restate the que stion I asked the participants. Then I will state the concept under investig ation in the question and list the emergent themes and categories describing the phenomena. I used code s to illustrate participants’ responses. I present the findings in the or der in which I asked the ques tions and list the emergent themes and categories in descending order. Question one (1) provided da ta about participants’ length of residence in their neighborhoods. Mean length of residence was 35 years, the median was 38 years, the range was seven to 55 years, and the st andard deviation was 14.7 years. One participant’s length of reside nce was relatively short, seve n years, compared to the majority of the participants. The median may be more representative of the sample than the mean because of this outlier. Question two (2) asked participants how l ong they had been the leader of their neighborhood watch or community association. The mean length of their leadership role was nine years, the median was 6 years, the range was one year to 40 years and the standard deviation was 10.4 years. Mo st leadership positions were one-year commitments, but many of these participants were serving for an extended period. The median time may also be more representative than the mean because one participant had been involved for 40 years and was an outlier.

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54 Question three (3) asked, “W hat originally inspired you to become involved with your community work?” This question expl ores participants’ initial motivation for involvement. Three themes emerged, perceive d needs (59%), sources of efficacy (26%), and increasing human resources (11%). Perc entages indicate the proportion of codes for each question that fall under each category and theme and not the percentage of participants. Perceived needs included three categorie s of initial motivation to action; problems in the neighborhood, need for local leadership and meeting general needs in the neighborhood. Problems in the neighborhood co mprised over one quarter of the results, 26%. Problems included drugs, crime, dilapida ted housing, and safety concerns. Under meeting general needs, 23%, initial motivations were items such as, “I wanted to address needs,” and “the old neighborhood was going down.” In general, participants expressed their desires to meet the great needs that exist in their ne ighborhoods. The need for local leadership, 12%, emerged through items such as addressing the ba d reputation of the area, the need for a community spokespe rson, low neighborhood pa rticipation, and a desire for more government participation. Sources of efficacy contained two categories. The first was previous experience, and the second was psychological state Under previous experi ence, 12%, participants mentioned concepts like “I’ve always been involved,” “I was socialized from my parents,” and “you can see immediate change when you act.” They also referenced experiences in other social movements or actions like the civil rights movement. Psychological state, 14%, included codes fo r humanitarian interests and stubbornness.

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55 Participant responses included “I have a concer n for people,” “I want to help out,” and “It makes me feel good to do something for other people.” Participants wanted to mobilize the human potential that they saw as stagnant in their neighborhoods. The increasing huma n resources category, 11%, represented participants desires to “motivate others,” “i nform others to bring change,” “give people ownership” and “rally people to the cause.” They discussed a general desire to empower other neighborhood residents to work fo r the betterment of the community. Table 4.1Analysis results of participants’ responses to th e question, “What inspired you to become involved in your community work?” Question Codes Categories In descending order Themes In descending order Phenomena #3 What inspired you to become involved in your community work? 1. Drugs, crime, poverty 2. Neighborhood representation, increased participation 3. Address basic needs 4. Always been involved, worked in Civil Rights movement 5. Humanitarian interests, stubbornness 6. Inform others to bring change, motivate others to act 1. Problems in the neighborhood 2. Need for local leadership 3. Meeting general needs 4. Mastery experience 5. Psychological state Perceived needs Sources of efficacy Increase human resources Initial motivation for action Question four (4) asked, “How does your fam ily feel about your leadership role in the community?” Two categories emerged from this question: Supportive and concerned/no interest A majority of the responses (75%) were supportive and included “They are supportive,” “They’re ok with it” and “Very pr oud.” Concerned family

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56 members (25%) thought participants “did too much” or were uninterested in community action work. Table 4.2-Analysis results of participants’ responses to the question, “How does your family feel about your leadersh ip role in the community?” Question Codes Categories In descending order Themes In descending order Phenomena #4 How does your family feel about your leadership role in the community? 1. Supportive of me, O.K. with it, very proud 2. Do too much work, not interested 1. Supportive 2. Concerned/no interest Family social support Question five (5) inquired about participan ts other forms of volunteer work. The percentages for this question indicate the proportion of par ticipants and not codes. Nearly two-thirds, 63%, of the participan ts were involved in volunteer and civic endeavors outside of their community watch work and responsibilities. They listed a variety of organizations in cluding churches, local schools, various public community programs, local nonprofits, workers unions a nd political involvement. The remaining third of participants, 37%, were only i nvolved in their neighborhood work. Neighborhood watch work consumes a great deal of time. Al most half of the participants still worked full-time and did not have enough time a nd energy to devote to other endeavors. Question six (6) asked, “When you are wo rking as a community organizer, who else do you count on or work with to get th ings done?” This question uncovered the domains of resources participants use. Two themes emerged from the data. Resources were accessed through participants’ comm unity environment (68%) and personal environment (32%). These percentages indicate the proportion of codes and not proportion of participants, in each category and theme.

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57 More than two-thirds of the resources pa rticipants’ access was in their community environment. This theme contained three categories, g overnment agencies, non-profit agencies and resource-type dependent agencies Government agencies (42%) included entities such as codes enfor cement, the local police department, public works, city planning and the school board. Non-profit agencies (15%) included churches and a county environmental preservation organiza tion. Resource-type dependent agencies (12%) developed from such responses as “whoe ver has the resources we need to get it done,” “depends on the project” and “whoever is accountable.” Pa rticipants’ personal environment contained two categories of human resources, neighbors/crime watch members and family Neighbors and crime watch leader s were one quarter, 24%, of the responses and family members were 7%. Table 4.3Analysis results of participants’ responses to the question, “When you are working as a community organizer, who else do you count on or work with to get things done?” Question Codes Categories In descending order Themes In descending order Phenomena #6 When you are working as a community organizer, who else do you count on or work with to get things done? 1. Codes enforcement, local police department, public works 2. Churches, environmental groups 3. Whoever has the resources, depends on the project 1. Government agencies 2. Non-profit agencies 3. Resource-type dependent agencies 4. Neighbors/crime watch members 5. Family Community environment Personal environment Domains of resources Question seven (7) asked, “What are some of the things you’ve had to overcome to get things done in your community?” Three prominent barriers emerged from this data with six categories overall. The most prominen t barrier, which composed one-third of the

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58 responses, was apathy, 33%. This category included items such as lack of participation, people “don’t want to change,” complacency, an d the fact that they have “Been trying to do so long, nobody care.” Another important perceived barrier to action was the bureaucracy of government agencies composing one-quarter, 25%, of the responses. Participants mentioned concepts like the length of time required for the bureaucratic change process, slow communication and “not knowing where the buck stops” to make a request to get something done. One-fifth of the responses were concerned with the lack of resources (19%). This describes both a lack of financial resources, such as grants and subsidies, as well as a lack of human resources in the form of participation and levels of activity. Table 4.4Analysis results of participants’ responses to th e question, “What are some of the things you’ve had to overcome to get things done in your community?” Question Codes Categories In descending order Themes In descending order Phenomena #7 What are some of the things you’ve had to overcome to get things done in your community? 1. People don’t want to change, lazy, don’t care 2. Slow communication, not knowing where the buck stops, red tape 3. Financial resources, human resources 4. Historical neglect 5. Antiquated attitudes 6. People only help when something happens 1. Apathy 2. Bureaucracy of government resources 3. Lack of resources 4. Bad perception 5. Racial barriers 6. Reactive participation Barriers Bad perception of the locality and the historic neglect of this locality by the government and the rest of the community were barriers (11%). These attitudes developed over time and are slowly decreasi ng, but still impose de trimental effects.

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59 Perceived racial (6%) barriers and reactive participation (6%), or activity initiated solely by a negative event in the community, we re the last two barriers identified. Question eight (8) asked participants, “On a scale from one to ten, one being the lowest and ten being the best, how much do you feel that you have the resources needed to get things done?” The mean was 4, the median was 4, the mode was 5, the range was from 1 to 7 and the standard deviation was 2.0. Table 4.5-Bar graph of participants’ resource level scores and the number of participants who identified with each resource level 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 Score 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Resource level score Number of participants who identified with each resource level Participants also provided justification for the relatively low scores on their ratings of resource-level. Low government resources (55%) was the largest factor in their low scores. This category, capturing more than half of the responses, included items like low funding, not enough grants, and the governme nt not making the poorer neighborhoods a priority. A complimentary explanat ion of the low resources is the low access to resources (27%). This refers to events when resources are only found when something adverse happens, when people are not aware of available resources, or when participants cannot mobilize the human resources in thei r neighborhood through participation in local action. Additionally, one participant mentioned the importance of knowing and contacting the right people to coordinate necessary resources.

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60 Table 4.6Analysis results of participants’ responses to th e question, “On a scale of one to ten, one being the lowest and ten be ing the best, how much do you feel like you have the resources you need to get things done?” Question Codes Categories In descending order Themes In descending order Phenomena #8 On a scale of 110, one being the lowest and ten being the best, how much do you feel like you have the resources you need to get things done? 1. Low funding, not enough grants, poor neighborhoods not a priority 2. Not knowing about resources, other residents will not participate, resources are only found when something bad happens 1. Low government resources 2. Low access to resources Perceived low resources Question nine (9) was a two-part question about participants’ perceived level of self-efficacy. First, participants were as ked, “How much of an impact do you feel you work in the community makes?” They were asked to choose from an ordinal scale with the options of (1) a lot of impact, (2) some im pact, (3) a little impact or, (4) no impact. Almost two-thirds of th e participants (63%) thoug ht that their work had a lot of impact in the community. Fifteen percen t said that their work had some impact and 23% said that their work had a little impact No participants felt that their work had no impact at all. Secondly, participants were asked to give three examples of times where they felt that they had made the impact they previously described. The events that illustrated these impacts were composed of two themes, mastery experience and verbal persuasion. Mastery experience was the prominent predictor of participants self-efficacy containing 86% of the responses for this que stion. Three categor ies emerged under this theme, reported in decreasing order. More th an one-third of these mastery experiences, 38%, were expressed through the various tangible physical changes in the neighborhood.

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61 These were improvements to the neighbor hood infrastructure, such as removing condemned housing, building more sidewalks an d streetlights, atta ining new playground equipment, and increased police patrol. For individual and incremental changes (24%), participants discussed various examples of individuals in the neighborhood who have benefited from community efforts. Participants stated that, “The impact is big on an individual level.” In the third category, seen overall change 19%, participants talked about how they have seen the neighborhood improve over time, and that “We took care of problems so, I know we’ve made a differen ce.” The second theme, verbal persuasion (14%), included things such as “people te ll me” and “talking to old students.” No categories emerged from this theme. Table 4.7-Analysis results of participants’ responses to th e question, “How much of an impact do you feel your work in the community makes?” Question Codes Categories In descending order Themes In descending order Phenomena #9 How much of an impact do you feel your work in the community makes? 1. Getting rid of condemned housing, new sidewalks, playground equipment 2. Individual anecdotes 3. I know we’ve made a difference, seen change happen 4. People tell me we’ve made a difference 1. Tangible physical changes 2. Individual/ incremental changes 3. Seen overall change Mastery Experience Verbal Persuasion Self-efficacy Question ten (10) asked, “What keeps you energized to keep working in your community when times are hard or others don’t participate or help?” The central phenomena I examined through this question we re the effects of self-efficacy and the

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62 factors that helped participants maintain their motivation for action. Three themes emerged, motivational, c ognitive and affective The first theme, motivational (61%), included three categories, descri bed in descending order. Humanitarian motivations, 40%, played a significant role and included conc epts like the love of the people and love of the area. Participants said that, “It’s fu lfilling when people are mobilized” and cited a “desire for the betterment of others.” Reciprocity motivations, 11%, were motivations that come from another person who helped th e participant in the pa st, or having a role model and ideas such as, “When you have, you give.” The last category, responsibility 10%, is illustrated in the following quote. “If I don’t do it, it ain’t gonna get there.” The essence that there was work to be done and someone has to do it created the participants’ perceived sense of responsibil ity as a motivational factor. The second theme, cognitive factors, 24%, contained only codes which described participants’ stubbornness and perseverance in the face of obstacles. Nearly one quarter of the answers referenced these concepts and many responses were stubbornness and perseverance verbatim. Their responses also included items such as, “I don’t accept no,” “I don’t give up,” and having an “unforeseeable drive.” From the third theme, affective factors, 16%, two categories emerged. Optimism (8%) represents the potential participants see for the futu re of their neighborhood. The last category for affective factors was belief in God (5%) and one outlying code for guilt.

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63 Table 4.8Analysis results of participants’ responses to the question, “W hat keeps you energized to keep working in your community when times are hard or others don’t participate or help?” Question Codes Categories In descending order Themes In descending order Phenomena #10 What keeps you energized to keep working in your community when times are hard or others don’t participate or help? 1. Love of people, love of area 2. Role model, someone gave to me in the past 3. If I don’t do it, it won’t get done 4. I don’t accept no, I won’t give up 5. See future potential, it may get there 1. Humanitarian motivations 2. Reciprocity 3. Responsibility 4. Stubbornness/ perseverance 5. Optimism 6. Belief in god Motivational Cognitive Affective Self-efficacy Question eleven (11) was a two-part question. The first part asked, “How responsible do you feel for the quality of lif e in your community? How responsible do you feel for being a leader?” Four answer categories emer ged from this question and answers were split evenly over the categories. Percentages for this question represent the proportion of participants who identified w ith each category and not the proportion of codes for each category. Participants said they felt either (a) responsible for the community (25%), (b ) not responsible (19%), (c) responsible for myself (19%), or (d) I don’t know (25%). The second part of question eleven sought an explanation for their answer and asked, “Why do you feel responsible?” The da ta was divided into two themes, personal influences and environmental influences. Many categories emerged from this data because the levels of felt responsibility were evenly distributed. Percentages indicate proportion of codes for each category and them e. Personal influences was the most

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64 prominent theme, 69%, and categories will be listed in descending order. In desire of positive outcomes 29%, respondents said things like, “I want the community to look nice,” “I want to see change,” and “I will do whatever I can to make things better.” Selfefficacy beliefs 14%, were items such as, “I have so much to offer,” “He who has much, much is required” and “people look up to me.” Commitment to their neighborhood as home (9%), participants’ upbringing (9%) and the feeling that everyone is responsible (9%) were the last three categories in the personal influences theme. Pride and the empowerment of others were two codes that did not fall into a de signated category under the theme of personal influences. One quarter of the data fit under the e nvironmental influences theme, 26%. Two categories emerged. Physical environment, 17%, includes items that express the need in the neighborhood locality. Interpersonal environment, 9%, represents the support of other people or lead ers in the neighborhood. Table 4.9-Analysis results of participants’ responses to the question, “Why do you feel responsible for the quality of life in your community?” Question Codes Categories In descending order Themes In descending order Phenomena #11 Why do you feel responsible for the quality of life in your community? 1. I want to the community look nice 2. I have so much to offer, people look up to me 3. I live here 4. Brought up this way 5. Everyone is responsible 6. The neighborhood needs it 7. People support my actions 1. Desire of positive outcomes 2. Self-efficacy beliefs 3. Home 4. Upbringing 5. Everyone is responsible 6. Physical environment 7. Interpersonal environment Personal Influences Environmental Influences Perceived level of responsibility

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65 Question twelve (12) also had two parts. The first part asked participants, “How much do you think that people feel like they are a part of this neighborhood?” This question provided information for understa nding the concepts and indicators of community attachment as a motivation for community action. Four answer categories emerged from this question. Participants identified their fellow residents’ belongingness to the neighborhood with (a) feel a part of this neighborhood (46%), (b) homeowners feel a part of this neighborhood (9%), (c) people do not feel a pa rt of this neighborhood (27%), or (d) I don’t know (18%). Participants perceived ot her residents’ to be relatively attached to their neighborhood. The second part of question twelve aske d participants, “What do you think leads them (other residents) to feel like they be long?” This question uncovered the indicators of community attachment. Several categor ies emerged that describe the reasons, according to the participants, that people co me to feel a part of the neighborhood. Involvement/participation 25%, was the most prominent indicator of feeling a part of the community. Duration of residence (18%) correlated with a sense of belongingness or attachment. Many of the resident’s familie s had lived in the neighborhood for multiple generations, and many were born and raised in the neighborhood and have since raised their children and grandchildren there. Community pride 14%, included things like wanting the community to look nice, having a love of the area and “valuing their community and home.” Homeownership (12%) was a component of attachment. Communication (8%) included things like knowin g what is going on around the neighborhood and community and being knowledg eable of the resources available.

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66 When people have shared experiences (6%) together, these experiences were indicators of their attachment to the community. The closely related fi nal category was having interactions 6%, with other members of the neighborhood. Miscellaneous codes me ntioned were having self-worth, trust of others, feeling safe, the common thread of living together and being a caring person as reasons to feel a part of the neighborhood. Table 4.10-Analysis results of participants’ responses to the ques tions, “How much do you think that people feel like they are a part of the neighborhood? What do you think leads them to feel like they belong?” Question thirteen (13) asked participants, “If you could ha ve any three things in the world for your neighborhood, what would you wish for? Perhaps within the physical, social and economic environment?” Three themes emerged from this data, wishes for the social environment, physical environment and economic environment. The most important theme was the social environmental wishes, which included more than half of the participants’ responses, 55%. The first category in this theme was participation, Question Codes Categories In descending order Themes In descending order Phenomena #12 How much do you think that people feel like they are a part of the neighborhood? What do you think leads them to feel like they belong? 1. Active in community activities 2. Lived in locality for a long time 3. Want area to look nice, valuing the community 4. Homes are investments in community 5. Being knowledgeable of resources, know what is going on 6. Go through good and bad times together, work on projects with other residents 7. Talk to other residents 1.Involvement/partici pation 2. Duration of residence 3. Community pride 4. Homeownership 5. Communication 6. Shared experiences 7. Interaction Community attachment

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67 21%, which referred to people participating more in community and neighborhood events and issues, as well as people becoming empowe red and taking more responsibility. The second category was resources for the youth and elderly 14%. These were things like recreation programs, community cente rs and after-school programs. Education, 11%, included things like vocati onal programs, parenting cl asses and improved public education. Cultural programs, 5%, included theatre, dance and more African-American cultural activities. A stronger faith base a nd more family time were two outlying codes for this theme. Four categories emerged under physical environmental wishes, 39%. The categories are listed in descending order. Beautification of the neighborhood, 16%, included things like picking up trash, planting flowers and having nicer yards. Infrastructure improvements 9%, included items such as sp eed humps, street lighting and informational signs. Safety (7%) from crime and drugs and environmental protection (7%) were also wishes for the physical environment. The economic environment (7%) was the leas t important theme. People wished for more money for improvements and more local business. Two miscellaneous codes were political leadership and pr eservation of older homes.

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68 Table 4.11-Analysis results for participants’ responses to the ques tion, “If you could have any three things in the world, what would you wish for and why?” Question Codes Categories In descending order Themes In descending order Phenomena #13 If you could have any three things in the world, what would you wish for your community? 1.Neighborhood participation 2. Community centers, after-school programs, home visits 3. Vocational programs, improved public education 4. Dance, theatre, African-American cultural programs 5. Pick up trash, plant flowers, paint over graffiti 6. Protection from crime and drugs 7. Create more sidewalks, streetlights, speed humps 8. Money for improvements, more local business 1. Participation 2. Resources for youth and elderly 3. Education 4. Cultural programs 5. Beautification 6. Safety 7. Infrastructure improvements Social environment Physical environment Economic environment Community ecology

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69 CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION The goal of this study was to understand the factors that motivate people to act at the grassroots level in the c ontext of poor communities. Ac tion is a vital component of community development. Social scientists, extension professionals and other community practitioners need to know what can be done to foster community action in order to enhance local quality of life and well-being (Luloff & Swan son, 1995). Another research goal was to explore the barriers that preven t people from taking local action. This chapter will connect the results from the participant interviews to relevant concepts and theoretical framework, and complete the grounded theory process. This study was placed in the context of poor, distressed neighborhoods. However, economic disadvantage did not emerge in th e data as a factor of community action. Participants may be in a more fortunate economic situation than other neighborhood residents and are not necessa rily living in poverty, but liv ing in a neighborhood where poverty rates are high. Since poverty or distress have never prevented the participant’s from being active, it would not emerge in th eir response as a factor for community action. Additionally, Klandermans (2002) disc usses the importance of individual identification with a group or cause as a motivation for gr assroots action. Identifying yourself as a member of an active group of poor residents may not produce uplifting or motivational attitudes. Therefore, participan ts would not associate being poor with their motivations for being active or involve d in the neighborhood association.

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70 Participants discussed problems such as speed humps, playground equipment, streetlights, crime and drug d ealing as community needs or concerns. Concerns about decaying infrastructure and other related proble ms are probably indicators of distress. This is because these problems may represent the different experiences of communities that have high unemployment, low income, high poverty, unstable economics, and other socioeconomic problems (Glasm eier, Wood & Fuellhart, 2006). Distress and a concern for the community’s needs may therefore be pr edictors of community action. However, I found no clear connection between poverty and community acti on in this research. Self-efficacy The participants are highly efficacious indi viduals. I found that they have a high sense of self-efficacy, and consequently posse ss the adaptive benefits of self-efficacy. This is a principal motivator for grassroot s community action. The concept of selfefficacy is useful for understanding motivatio ns to community action and for interpreting the findings of this study. According to Bandura’s theory, every individual has an internal system which allows them to, “exercise a measure of control of their thoughts, feelings, motivation and actions.” Efficacy is defined as people’s beliefs about their capabiliti es to produce designated levels of performance that exercise influence over even ts that affect their lives. Self-efficacy beliefs determine how people feel, think, motivate themselves and behave. (Bandura, 1994, pp. 1) Efficacy plays an important role in the expl anation of these data. Self-efficacy is a task-specific characteristic. When I refer to self-efficacy in this discussion, it is in reference to participants’ community action se lf-efficacy. Three questions were designed to directly test this theory. I propose a model to fit all of the study’s concepts dynamically and collectively.

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71 Question nine yielded very important evid ence about participan ts’ self-efficacy. Individuals gauge the effects of their actions and their interpretations of these effects help create their efficacy beliefs (Pajares, 1997) All of the particip ants were aware of the impact of their work. Nearly two-thirds, 63%, felt that their work had a lot of impact, the highest rating possible on the scalar respon se. The participants are aware of their capabilities as grassroots community leader s because of the high rates of perceived success. Outcomes interpreted as successful raise self-efficacy a nd contribute to high participant self-efficacy (Bandura, 1994). The emergent themes from the second part of the question, ma stery experience and verbal persuasion, were the justifications for participants’ evaluation of the impacts they have. These results also support the self -efficacy model. Bandura identifies mastery experience as one of the four sources of efficacy, and as the most effective way of building self-efficacy (1994). The data support this model because 86% of the answers fit into the mastery experience theme. “I think I feel like most of the time it’s just that I can look back and see a lot of things we have accomplished. The things that stand out I guess are the GED classes we have, the comput er classes we have.” This was how one participant described one of their impactful ev ents. Participants’ pa st experiences with community work, including seeing projects come to fruition, accomplishing change in their neighborhoods, and actions reaching back to the civil rights movement, are primary sources of their beliefs. The following quote captures the model well, “I certainly feel like I made an impact because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here spinnin’ my wheels for such a long time.” Accomplishing tasks along the way and the development in participants’ communities

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72 provides the endurance to pursue deve lopment of community (Wilkinson, 1991, Summers, 1986). We will see later that efficacy also a ppears to be a source of enduring and perseverant motivation for community action. Additionally, verbal persuasions are one of the four sources of efficacy established by Bandura (1994), and this also emerged from the data. Community action Self-efficacy Mastery Experience with grassroots community action Perceived needs Interaction Resources Social support Community Attachment Sources of Self-efficacy and Community Attachment Self-efficacy Activated Processes Community Action Length of residence Community Homeownership Communication Shared Experiences Verbal Persuasions Psychological State Figure 5.1: Sources of Community action se lf-efficacy as predictors for community action

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73 Question three also substantiated participants’ high self-efficacy. Participants described what had initially motivated them to become involved in community crime watch work. Perceived neighborhood needs were an important predictor for action, corroborating research findings that commun ity concern motivates residents to act (Omoto & Snyder, 2002). These include a ll neighborhood problems that were either recognized by the participants, or recogni zed and discussed w ith other neighborhood residents. People behave and act purposivel y in response to their interactions and the impressions they draw from their connec tions with others (Brennan, 2005). Such conditions contribute to action (Wilkinson, 1991) Participants heard concurring attitudes regarding the needs of the ne ighborhood through interactions w ith other residents. These interactions then enforce the perception of these needs. Addi tionally, participants’ mastery experience in solvi ng problems allows them to see neighborhood needs more clearly.

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74 Community action Self-efficacy Mastery Experience with grassroots community action Perceived needs Interaction Resources Social support Community Attachment Sources of Self-efficacy and Community Attachment Selfefficacy Activated Processes Community Action Length of residence Community Homeownership Communication Shared Experiences Verbal Persuasions Psychological State Figure 5.2: Interaction, percieve d needs and mastery experience work together as sources of self-efficacy and as predictors for community action Participants cited two other categories as motivations to initial action in the neighborhood watch, previous experience and ps ychological state. These categories fit Bandura’s model of self-efficacy (1994). Some of the participants’ previous experience dated back. For example Well, when civil rights in the 1950’s, I wa s very much involved with that. I went up to the second march in Alabama. We di d picketing here, I wa s arrested in two or three places right here in Florida. We did sit ins and all stuff. I was the first

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75 black who got a card to the library here. I was the first black who integrated the United Way board. I was the first black to jo in the democratic club at the time. Such intense and powerful experiences affo rded the participants a solid foundation of self-efficacy. People learn that they are a powerful and capable agent of change when they have seen the effect and impact thei r individual actions can make. Previous experience was the strongest source of efficacy in this study, in accordance with Bandura’s model. Humanitarianism was the primary component of psychological state. There may be an interesting feedback loop th at cyclically motivat es individuals to act. People receive positive messages from individuals when they participate in a positive action. The positive message lets the participants know that what they were doing was successful and is valued by others. This so cial support influences their psychological state because participants feel bett er about themselves knowing that th eir actions have a positive effect on others. Participants conti nue to be motivated to act in order to maintain that positive feeling. Participants’ awarene ss of their positive effect on people builds self-efficacy.

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76 Community action Self-efficacy Mastery Experience with grassroots community action Perceived needs Interaction Resources Social support Community Attachment Sources of Self-efficacy and Community Attachment Self-efficacy Activated Processes Community Action Length of residence Community Homeownership Communication Shared Experiences Verbal Persuasions Psychological State ( Humanitarianism ) Figure 5.3: Feedback loop between mastery experience, social support, psychological state and self-efficacy Some participants expressed a desire to empower and enable other residents to act as their motivation for initial action. Th ey wanted to mobilize the untapped human resources available in the neighborhood. One of the barriers partic ipants faced was the lack of participation from other residents. Social reformers, like the participants, can see the long and intermediate-term benefits of mobilizing human potential (Bandura, 1994). Participants’ motivation to mobilize the local human resource potential may also

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77 motivate them to overcome the barrier of low pa rticipation. This motivation in the face of apathy is one of the benefits of high self-efficacy. Question 10 was similar in nature to question three. It asked participants what kept them energized to do their work, especially in the face of the many barriers they cited. The themes that emerged from this question, motivational processes, affective processes and cognitive processes match three of Bandura’s four major efficacy-activated psychological processes (1994). Humanitarianism is a psychological mo tivation for community action. One participant described the motivation as What keeps me energized is the need, and knowing that whenever someone is being helped its quite rewarding to be able to assist them when they are in need. That’s the thing that energizes you. These finding concur with those of Omoto and Snyder’s ( 2002) because people participate in action to expre ss humanitarian interests. The rewarding feeling of helping a fellow resident provides more social s upport and feedback to one’s motivational processes. Participants directly expressed their i nnate stubbornness and unyielding strength to accomplish tasks in their community no matter wh at the obstacle. This was an indicator of participants perseverance and resiliency in their community action work, and therefore to their self-efficacy. Perseverance and resi liency are the most common indicators of the efficacy activated cognitive and motivationa l processes (Bandura, 1994). One would not be willing to give up on accomplishing a task if they have a strong belief in their capabilities to accomplish that task. “Oh, I don’t like for folks to tell me no. I don’t accept no. I just immediately think of a wa y to get around the no because I do always think there’s a way.” Self-efficacy beliefs determine how much effort people expend and

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78 how long and in what ways they will persevere in the face of obstacles (Bandura, 1994). These neighborhood watch leaders knew that their community’s needs were valid and reasonable. Additionally, they felt that if they weren’t the individuals initiating the process, the solutions would never come to pass. One participant talked about her resiliency in dealing with government bureaucracy Sometimes just getting frustrated with th e red tape and going to one agency and saying, no, not this agency. And how ‘ bout you? Not you, who then? So just going through that sometime frustrate pe ople and people just give up, but I don’t care. I stay on the phone until you say fine. I’m persistent. You know they say the old squeaky wheel gets the oil. I’m one of those people that I will worry you until they say ok. Sometimes you gotta just be there and just keep doing it until somebody says alright. Three or four participants used the same “squeaky wheel” metaphor, demonstrating their shared characteristics of perseverance and self-efficacy. Also, a few participants talked about how a role model had inspired th em to keep going in the face of obstacles. The vicarious experiences of leaders from participants’ pa sts served as a source of efficacy, as indicated by their strong perseverance. The third theme and component to Bandura’ s efficacy activated processes were the affective processes. Participant’s optimistic views and their beliefs in God helped to develop their coping capabilities in the f ace of barriers (Bandura, 1994). Their optimism shows that they see the potential that can be realized in their community through continued action, and this fuels the vision th ey have for their neighborhood. “When I look around me and I see that need, and maybe fo r a while longer something might click.” The adaptive benefits of affective processe s help reduce stress and anxiety, allowing participants’ motivation to remain relatively high (Bandura, 1994).

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79 Community action Self-efficacy Mastery Experience with grassroots community action Perceived needs Interaction Resources Social support Community Attachment Sources of Self-efficacy and Community Attachment Self-efficacy Activated Processes Community Action Length of residence Community Homeownership Communication Shared Experiences Verbal Persuasions Psychological State Cognitive Motivational Affective Selective Figure 5.4: Self-efficacy creates four self-efficacy activated pr ocesses as predictors for community action Community Attachment Attachment to community emerged as a significant motivation for action. People are more likely to improve their local c onditions and the conditions of their fellow community members when they feel like they are a part of a community (Omoto & Snyder 2002). Question two provided information about participants’ attachment to their neighborhood. The median for years of l eadership was 6, showing participants’

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80 commitment to their leadership role in th eir neighborhood associations. The leadership position in most cases is a one-year commit ment, but I found that (a) no one else was willing to step up to the role and/or (b) residents were pleased with the work that was being done in many of the cases. Many partic ipants were so str ongly attached to the purpose and mission of the neighborhood watch groups that they had little to no desire to relinquish their leadership respons ibilities. One participant sa id, “This is what I want to do, this is what I am. Not gonna give up.” Question twelve examined the role of community attachment in motivating grassroots action. Duration of residen ce was a primary indicator of community attachment or belongingness, which corroborat es previous findings. Previous studies have found that length of residence correlate s strongly to community attachment (Austin and Baba 1990; Brown 1993; Goudy 1990; Kasard a and Janowitz 1974; St. John, Austin, and Baba 1986; Theodori and Luloff 2000). A me dian residence period of 38 years is a long time by any standards, a strong testament to the high level of community attachment among participants, which in turn led to a high investment of time and energy in their neighborhoods. When this par ticipant was asked what made her feel connected to the community she said, “Question on e; [I’ve lived here for] Fort y-nine years. My father was raised there, I was raised there, my aunt still lives there, my grandmother lives there. I mean, it’s home.” Several other categories that emerged unde r this theme corroborate the literature about attachment and community action. Ho meownership was the third most important indicator of community attachment. Austin and Baba also found that homeownership was

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81 a predictor for community action (1990). The psychological difference between renting and owning a home can affect one’s motivation to act. I think that homeowners feel so much a part We have a lot of rental property in our area and sometimes folk may not care th at much about rental property, it’s not the same. Renting and owning are just two di fferent things to most people. I’m not saying that all people aren ’t taking care if they’re renting. But homeownership gives a sense of pride and a sense of wo rth, and when they own that home they want to take care of it and get involved and feel a part in the neighborhood so we have a lot of that going on. The investment in a home can motivate re sidents to engage in activities that enhance and protect their investment. “The pride of ownership, the learning that goes into maintaining property, and the sense that a variety of basic problems have been solved are all empowering to community re sidents.” (Rubin & Rubin, 2001, pp. 79). One participant said, “It’s like peopl e have an investment there in terms of their lives and that’s why when something comes up, [drug dea ling], they feel like hey, this is mine, you don’t have a right to come in here.” Pride in ownership, can build esteem and efficacy in residents’ community action efforts. It was kind of like we had to deal with [d rugs] ‘cause we basically, its not [wealthy area of town] folks! And you get that f eeling like well, you’ve got to put up with that stuff. And finally it was like, yo u know, no, we don’t have to put up with that stuff. Just because we’re not living in five hundred thousand dollar homes doesn’t mean we have to live with drug dealer s next door. And you know, I think people have seen that they do have a voice in that and they can make something happen. Community pride was another category unde r the attachment theme. Residents stated that people feel a sense of belongingness when they take pride and care about their neighborhood. One participant de scribes this as a source of motivation: “You have to have pride and feel a part of something in or der to keep things neat and in place. You have to feel a part of it.” This creates a valued social id entity for individuals as they identify with and connect to their localit y (Crocker & Luhtanen, 1990; Turner, Hogg,

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82 Oakes, Reicher & Wetherell, 1987). People will voluntarily participate or join when they feel a social identification w ith a group or cause (Klandermans 2002). This behavior is an indication of their strong identification. A sense of pride and belongingness is an indicator of attachment, a nd a predictor for action. The last component that emerged as an indicator of community attachment was having common experiences. One participant de scribed this sense of camaraderie vividly In think when they see each other. Feel each other’s concerns. When they are with each other through trials and tribulations. When they are with each other through death, through births, thr ough hard times. When they know that somebody is watching out for them. When they can just stand in their yards and talk and share a moment that is common to them. When th ey feel safe enough to feel a part, to move around. When they’re asked, and when they’re listened to. When they speak up and when we follow through. Here, the link between sharing common expe riences and length of residence is present. Both are significant indicators of attachment. These common experiences may also be memorable interactions and communications between resident s, both of which appeared as indicators of community attachment. Attachment influences the extent to which residents are willing to interact and engage in activities together (Hummon, 1990; Brown, 1991; Fischer, 1991; Wilkinson, 1991; Theodori, 2000; Theodori and Luloff, 2000). Interaction and common experiences breed communication. Connections and interactions w ithin the community increase communication between community members providing support and consensus for solving local problems and overcoming barriers to effective action (Simon et al., 1998; Simon et al., 2002). These basic interac tions are the building blocks of community (Wilkinson, 1991). The data show that thes e concepts are indicators of community attachment, and are most likely not mutually exclusive. Common experiences, communication, and interaction may all have dynamic interactions with each other. I did

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83 not examine these interactions well enough in this study to make a prediction about the strength and direction of these relationships. Community action Self-efficacy Mastery Experience with grassroots community action Perceived needs Interaction Resources Social support Community Attachment Sources of Self-efficacy and Community Attachment Self-efficacy Activated Processes Community Action Length of residence Community Pride Homeownership Communication Shared Experiences Verbal Persuasions Psychological State Cognitive Motivational Affective Selective Figure 5.5: Sources of community attachme nt as predictors for community action The last category that emerged as an indi cator of attachment is an interesting finding of this study. The data suggests that involvement and participation in community activities lead residents to feel they are a part of the neighborhood. How can participation be an indicator for community attachment if community attachment is a motivation for participation in community actio n? A cyclical relationship my be present

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84 between participation in comm unity activities and attachment. Participation generates positive feelings of attachment. This leads residents to continually participate in order to maintain those positive feelings, creating a positive feedback loop. The participants exhibit behaviors that indicate the presence of this fee dback loop (high attachment) in their motivational processes. When participants have had a positive mastery experience in community activities, that experience confirms participant’s belief s in their attachment because it acts in a feedback loop Mastery experience is the most im portant source of self-efficacy beliefs (Bandura, 1994). Previous experience in co mmunity action raises participants’ selfefficacy. This experience generates the efficacy activated selection processes by influencing the types of activities and envir onments in which participants choose to act (Bandura, 1994). Participants will select envi ronments they judge themselves capable of handling. By selecting to participate in more community activities based on previous experience, participants further cultivate their interest (or attachment) in their neighborhood, as well as the social networ ks that surround them (Bandura, 1994). Therefore, participation in community action increases self-efficacy, which then increases community attachment. In sum, attachment previous experience and selfefficacy are inter-related. A feedback rela tionship exists between participation and community attachment.

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85 Community action Self-efficacy Mastery Experience with grassroots community action Perceived needs Interaction Resources Social support Community Attachment Sources of Self-efficacy and Community Attachment Self-efficacy Activated Processes Cognitive Motivational Affective Selection Communit y Action Length of residence Community Homeownership Communication Shared Experiences Verbal Persuasions Psychological State Figure 5.6: Feedback loop between mastery e xperience, self-efficacy, efficacy-activated processes and community attachment Community Ecology Question thirteen examined the ecological fr amework of citizen participation. This relates participation to the physical, economic and social environments as predictors for participation in grassroots community organizing (Per kins et al., 1996). The data support the model. Participants identified “wishe s” for neighborhood impr ovements. Most of these existed within the social environment, physic al environment, and a small

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86 percentage discussed improvements for the econo mic environment. It was expected that economic improvements would emerge as a larger theme because of the poor socioeconomic context of this study. Pa rticipants may possess positive adaptive perceptions about their nei ghborhood. Living in a poor area has not prevented them from being active, so they would not need economic improvements to make their neighborhood perception better. Over half of the “wishes” for participan ts’ neighborhoods were social in nature, mostly that other residents would participate in community action. Social reformers strongly believe that they can mobilize the colle ctive effort needed to bring about social change (Bandura, 1994). It th erefore makes sense that th e largest category for this question was participant desire for increased levels of participation. Participants also wanted to empower others to act in their co mmunity. Personal and social changes rely extensively on methods of empowerment (Ban dura, 1988). Vasoo (1991) contends that over the long run, grassroots mobilization a nd citizen participation should encourage people to become more self reliant in social and economic activities and participate more in neighborhood and community activities. Various governments use this mechanism to encourage local residents to take an activ e interest as volunte ers (Vasoo, 1991). Many local problems which cannot be solved without the cooperation of gr assroots leaders and the capacity of its residents (Vasoo, 1991). Participants were not involved in these endeavors to accomplish everything on their own. Many of them suggested that they were merely a “catalyst” for action by inform ing participants of what resources were available and wanted their residents to be independent so they knew how to act on their own. One participant ingenious ly described this process

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87 A lot of times I think educa tion and educating people to wh at’s out there, and what they can do is something that gives themthat empowers them. It’s like if I know abut the guy in the codes office, I know the guy, I’ve met him. I’ve sat down next to him at meetings, I know what he looks like so if I have a problem, I don’t mind picking up the phone and saying, ‘Walter, he re’s what the problem is and if you don’t know the answer, who might? Who can I call’. So …again, education is the key for me because if I know how this thi ng is supposed to work then if I have a problem, I don’t feel intimidated about calling. Education can be a powerful tool in motivati ng others to act. It empowers residents by informing them of the resources they can use to make a difference, and likely build their community action self-efficacy. Studies indicate that methods of empowerment operate through the self-efficacy mechanism (Bandura, 1986). Education and awareness of community resources emerge as a source of self-efficacy. I will continue this discussion later in the chapter. It was interesting that beautification and infrastructure improvements were the largest categories under the physical envir onment theme. These improvements are both very tangible effects of change: It provi des comfort, satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment to local residents because they can actually see the difference they made. Tangible change also emerged as an indicator of participants’ self-efficacy. The visibility of change is very important for participants ’ belief in the proce ss of community change, as a testament to their actions and as reminde rs of their previous experiences. Tangible reminders are helpful in times of frustration and fatigue because there has to be a reason to keep “spinnin’ your wheels”. Social Support High social support appears to be an im portant contributor to community action motivation. Three-quarters of the families of particip ants were supported their participation. This finding corroborates Va soo’s study, which suggest ed that high social

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88 support conditions act as an incentive or motivat or to grassroots action (1991). This is important for the sustainability of commun ity action tasks. According to ecological theory, one’s family is their most immediate and intimate social environment, followed by their neighborhood, and community (Bronfenbrenner, 1986). Six of the participants mentioned that their spouses were also invol ved in community activ ities. Approval by people who are important to the participant make it easy for them to devote their time and energy to their community work. This is be cause social support ca n eliminate potential barriers to action like guilt from not spending mo re time with family. Social supporters therefore contribute to participants’ belief in the purpose of their community tasks, as well as their abilities to accomplish them. However, lack of social support from an intimate partner was the cause of one participant’s divorce. During the interview, this participant was describing the support she currently receives from her family, and then said, “That’s one of the reasons how come I don’t have a husband today. He didn’t like my going out bit and I knew back then it wasn’t gonna work and you know it was time fo r him to hit the door.” This participant has high attachment and devotion to her work in the community which allowed her to overcome negative social support. Participants’ Resources Nearly two-thirds of the participants we re active in organizations and programs outside of their neighborhood watch work. When I asked participants about what they were involved in, many had difficulty recalling all of the organizations and causes they had belonged to throughout the years. Seven of the participants were retired and had enough free time to devote to community work. The other participants worked full time and could not afford to commit to other ac tivities than the nei ghborhood watch group. I

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89 concluded that these participants interact acr oss diverse social fields and cultivate the emergence of a community field, according to field theory (Wilkinson, 1991). Their tasks and actions focused on development in th eir community, which theoretically lead to the development of community (Summers, 1986) Participants can be identified as theoretical agents of community development because of their varied interactions and task accomplishments in their neighborhoods. Another implication of the extensive and diversified community involvement of participants is that their in teractions lead to increased communication and networking. Through these interactions, participants deve lop an understanding of what to know, and most importantly, who to know in the commun ity in order to get tasks accomplished. These interactions put leaders in contact with many human, financial, infrastructural, social and political resources, enabling them to fill the needs of their neighborhoods. The increased resources, confidence and esteem that come from the experience of community and community action further develops part icipants’ psychological empowerment, in concurrence with previous research (Corri gan, Faber, Rashid & Leary, 1999; Rogers, Chamberlin, Ellison & Crean, 1997; Zimmerman Israel, Schulz & Checkoway, 1992). More resources and higher efficacy in comm unity action can contribute to individuals’ motivation to action. The awareness of available resources is important to discuss with respect to participants’ perceived barriers to action. The bureaucracy of government agencies was one of the primary perceived barriers. Bureaucracy is easier to maneuver when you know which person or office you need to contact, as well as when you personally know the person you need to contact to get a permit, or get updates on new grants and

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90 programs. One participant desc ribed it as, “we try to establis h partnerships with some of those [agencies] so they can be ongoing, not just for the moment, ongoing.” Another participant, who had worked in the community all her life, said that, “you need to know how to keep your hand on the pulse with the activities and reactions and pro and actions and nonactions and everything else.” Particip ation in diverse activities and interactions increases community knowledge, an d therefore increases access to resources by virtue of awareness. I continue the discussion about community resources using data from question six. This concerned who the participants count on to accomplish tasks for their neighborhood, or essentially, the accessible re sources they use to accomplish these tasks. The resources from participants’ personal environmen t, family and fellow neighborhood watch members, provide the positive effects of high social support as a motivation for community action. The people in participants ’ personal environment exist in the same geographic area, or locality as them. They in teract with these people frequently (Luloff, 1990). Consequently, participants’ personal envi ronments facilitate positive interactions that lead to social support and become a resource for community action, as well as a source of community action self-efficacy.

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91 Community action Self-efficacy Mastery Experience with grassroots community action Perceived needs Interaction Resources Social support Community Attachment Sources of Self-efficacy and Community Attachment Self-efficacy Activated Processes Cognitive Motivational Affective Selection Community Action Length of residence Community Homeownership Communication Shared Experiences Verbal Persuasions Psychological State Figure 5.7: Interaction and soci al support increase participant resources and contribute to self-efficacy Government agencies were the most impor tant resource in participants’ community environment (42%). They work very closely with the police department because most of the organizations are crime watch organiza tions. The majority of the issues the neighborhood groups deal with (removing condemned housing and old cars, fighting drugs, making infrastructure improvements etc.) are responsibilities of government agencies. The government plays an important ro le in the execution of community action.

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92 Perceived Barriers to Action Government bureaucracy is also a prim ary barrier to community action. One participant described it as, “sometimes the biggest setback is not knowing where the buck stops. You know, you call an agency and th ey give you someone else, who give you someone else, who give you someone else.” A nother participant said, “I think there is a common fear in the government, in the city, th at one person is always afraid to say yes because I think they don’t want to be acc ountable for it.” As a community leader, government bureaucracy can get in the way of action, but government resources are often necessary for facilitating these actions. How can a community leader act strategically if government agencies are both a resource and a barrier to accomplishing tasks in the community? Inability to carry out a needed task in the neighborhood is frustrating and disappointing and can discourage lead ers from achieving their goals. Resources continue to emerge as an impor tant theme in the rest of the discussion about perceived barriers to community action. Nearly twenty percen t of the identified barriers to community action were a lack of resources. Responses to question eight corroborated these results when participants we re asked to rate their level of community resources on a scale from one to ten, the mean rating was four, relatively low. The main reason participants cited as the cause of their low resource level score, were the low government resources available. According to the data the government is the most important community resource, one of the largest barriers to action, as well as an insufficient community resource. It ther efore makes sense that the institution that plays the largest role in community change has the largest numb er of complaints. However, it does not change the fact that many of the needs of these neighborhood watch groups are the responsibility of the local and county government. The historical neglect

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93 of this neighborhood (another identified barrie r) leaves much to be desired, even though an increasing amount of these ne eds have been met over the pa st few years that the crime watch movement has grown. One participan t describes her view of the situation You know, I know what they say. ‘Oh, th at’s east _______, we’ll get to it’. But see, we pay taxes over here too. Look, I don’t care what you get on the west side. All I ask is that you bring so me of that over to the eas t. We all pay taxes. Historic neglect refers to the bad reputation or perception of the neighborhood and the poor allocation of resour ces to this neighborhood, compounded over time. This barrier can be extremely damaging because it lo wers the esteem of the residents living in this area, decreasing any positive attitudes or participation aimed at social change. The most significant perceived barrier faced by participants was apathy, or a lack of neighborhood participation. For participants tr ying to overcome this barrier, it can seems like, “We’ve been trying to do this stu ff for so long nobody don’t really care, and you have to try to work through that stereotype.” These psychosocial barriers also affect decision makers and have preven ted resources from being allocated to this side of town. The only barriers, like I say, is the whole stigma of east _______, whatever. But I say that a lot of people that make decisions or don’t come out to do what they need to do has never really been in east ________ and never real ly took a look at what’s here and what’s available and what can be us ed. So growth has been on that side of main street for a million years so finally I think, a little bit, we’re seeing a little drift here and here and that’s ok, its growing. Resources are not simply monetary, but can also be human, political, or intellectual. For example, apathy and lack of participation were the largest perceived barriers participants faced. Neighborhoods fail to benefit from the human resources they have when there is little to no participa tion from the people who live in these areas. Almost every participant complained about si tuations similar to th e example provided by this subject

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94 Yea, the major thing is getting people to participate. Because, the more bodies you got, the more you get listened to. We have a hard time convincing neighbors that it’s worthwhile. We probably could have had speed bumps a few years back if we had more residents at the city commission complaining about it. In these instances, leaders who have the de sire for improvement and social change are a minority. This frustration is illustrated in the following quote I realized they don’t want not hin’ out of life, they don’t want their community to look decent. Because I feel like this community could look just like [wealthier communities]. You know, if everybody pulled together and sticked together. We gave ‘em a choice. Everybody just keep your own unit clean. They don’t even want to do that. The cognitive and motivational processes th at stem from a high sense of efficacy allow these grassroots leaders to be visi onary, set challenging goa ls, and persistently work at achieving these goals (Bandura, 1994). They have a perspective about community action that others do not. Gra ssroots actions may not be possible without these adaptive benefits, as Bandura describes Social reformers strongly believe that they can mobilize the colle ctive effort needed to bring social change. A lthough their beliefs are rarely fully realized they sustain reform efforts that achieve important gains. Were social reformers to be entirely realistic about the prospects of transformi ng social systems they would either forgo the endeavor or fall easy to victims of discouragement. (1994, pp. 78). Efficacious social reformers see long a nd intermediate-ter m benefits that mobilizing human potential can bring. Their affective processes give them the courage to pursue these large tasks (Bandura, 1994). It is difficult to overcome the barrier of apathy. A leader must be able to share the benefits of action with their fellow residents in order to raise residents’ self-efficacy. Otherwise resi dent’s cognitions will not change. It is fortunate that our participants have high self-efficacy. Band ura explains this valuable effect of efficacy Ordinary social realities are strewn with difficulties. They are full of impediments, adversities, setbacks, frustrations, and ine quities. People must have a robust sense

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95 of personal efficacy to sustain the persev erant effort needed to succeed. (1994, pp. 77). The tasks and responsibilit ies of a community leader pose many barriers, as identified by the participants. Their persev erance, persistence and devotion to their duties in spite of these challeng es attest to their strong sense of personal efficacy. Resources contribute to self-efficacy. However, when there are barriers to accessing resources, participants do not get discouraged about achieving their goals because their high self-efficacy fo rces them to persevere. A resource in participants’ community or personal environment is not ne cessarily a motivation, but the awareness of resources contributes to higher self-efficacy wh ich is a motivation for community action. Question eleven was deemed invalid. The re sults were erratic and I feel that the participants misunderstood the question. Th e wording of the question may have been unclear, and did not get speci fically at the concept in question. One’s feeling of responsibility is too subjec tive to operationalize in an open-ended question. There appeared to be no pattern or emergent th emes in the data, it was quite erratic and therefore was not consider ed in this discussion. I can distinguish two prototypes of comm unity leaders based on field observations and analysis. The first is the textbook-type, committed, dedicated, community leader. They are in it to create change, pursue social justice, and improve the quality of life in their community. This type of leader is very attached to th eir role. They choose to lead and empower others, even if it takes away some of their personal resources and liberties. Secondly, we have the leaders who “fell into the role”. They were perhaps the only person in their neighborhood who showed up to the watch mee ting, the only able-bodied energized resident amongst a neighborhood of senior citizens, or they just wanted to

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96 change something for the benefit of their family, and wound up representing the entire community. They did not aim to become the leaders, but they accepted the responsibility and take it seriously. Conclusion Community attachment and self-efficacy we re the most important predictors for community action in this study. Involvemen t in community activ ities, duration of residence, community pride, homeownersh ip, communication, shared experiences and interaction all emerged as indicators of co mmunity attachment (Figure 2.1). Previous experience was the most important predictor of self-efficacy, and tangible reminders of these experiences increase self-efficacy as well. Having high social support, an awareness of community resource s, diverse interactions with residents, and a concern for the community needs were also predictors to self-efficacy. Participants demonstrated the adaptive efficacy-activated processes through their perseverance and resilience in the face of many barriers. Their stubbornness, optimism and humanitarian feelings also demonstrate thes e beneficial processes. The participants have strong beliefs in their capabilities to accomplish important changes in their neighborhoods, as well as a high level of a ttachment to their neighborhoods. This explains their motivation for grassroots ac tion. A comprehensive conceptual model is presented in Figure 5.8

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97 Community action Self-efficacy Mastery Experience with grassroots community action Perceived needs Interaction Resources Social support Community Attachment Sources of Self-efficacy and Community Attachment Self-efficacy Activated Processes Cognitive Motivational Affective Selection Communit y Action Length of residence Community Homeownership Communication Shared Experiences Verbal Persuasions Psychological State Figure 5.8: Conceptual model of motivations for community action in the context of poverty

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98 CHAPTER 6 RECOMMENDATIONS One of the motivations behind this research was to better understand ways in which grassroots leaders, community leaders and ot her community practiti oners could cultivate and enhance grassroots action as a means to develop communities. Self-efficacy played a major role in motivating community action. To apply this in communities, organizers could create community projects that are guaranteed to be successful. The projects should be visible and the results should be easy to see so that partic ipants can look at the changes they have made after they have contributed. Seeing tangible change will give participants evidence of their ability to make a difference, increasing their self-efficacy. Good projects could be things like painting over graffiti, refurbishing a playground or community park, building handicapped ramp s for older citizens, or a neighborhood cleanup. Citizens with moderate to high co mmunity action self-efficacy and who have a sense of attachment to the community will likely join the effort. The difficulty lies in motivating those w ho are not attached and do not possess high community action self-efficacy. If we could further understand the apathetic and unattached resident, perhaps we could develop new strategies to recruit more of these uninvolved citizens. However, community scie ntists must accept the fact that there will never be one hundred percent participation: Th ere will always be “f ree-riders”. People are different and not everyone will see the be nefits of community action. However, even a small increase in grassroots level action allows community organizers to tap further into this powerful potential.

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99 The participants and potential participants I have discussed in this research are adults. If we are going to develop the kind of active adults we want for our communities, we have to incorporate the youth into projec ts and activities. They are a valuable resource for the present and involving them in action now creates sustainable action for the future. In addition, youth benefit soci ally, developmentally, and emotionally from participating in volunteer work. Youth are more likely to inco rporate it into their lifestyles down the road if they learn about the importanc e of community work during their formative years. Involving youth in community action efforts can contribute significantly to the sustaina bility of the community. The leaders of the community watch groups in this study, and all grassroots leaders for that matter, have a very difficult job. This paper identified the many barriers they face in their communities. They often do not receive much recognition for their work. Also, it is easy to fall victim to organizer burnout, even if an individual is highly efficacious. Perhaps local government agenci es or even non-profit organizations could recognize, encourage, and show their gratitude for these leaders in some manner. An event, a kind letter, or even a personal visit may do a great deal to keep leaders energized and appreciated. A more citizen-friendly government is an improvement which could facilitate more community action. People would also feel mo re empowered to use this system if an effort was made to educate all citizens about the processes and resources in the government system. Just having the knowle dge of available resources could build citizens community action self-efficacy, and in crease their understand ing of the roles of government, and the roles of citizens in a comm unity. Making significant changes to the

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100 bureaucracy of government may be difficult. A compromise could be made between the education of citizens regarding local gove rnment processes and. creating a more standardized and seamless access to the system. This would enhance community action. The community context of this study was in a mid-sized University city. It is a land-grant university and is therefore state Extension headquarters. I would like to see more university involvement in creating opportunities for low-income families and neighborhoods. The academic knowledge, inst itutional and human resources that a university could and should share with its community would make a significant impact on residents. Residents may begin to see their individual and co llective potential and may start to mobilize that potential once they see that the greater community values their neighborhood and the well-being of fellow citizens. Uncovering the role that social support pl ays in the lives of community citizens would be a valuable research finding. I found that social support is a source of efficacy and a valuable personal resource. Diverse in teractions may increase social support. I examined very basic relationships between social support and other concepts, but the extent to which social support e ffects individuals’ actions is likely to be a very complex and interesting dynamic. Understanding thes e dynamics could be quite valuable to community organizers. Grounded theory epistemology fits the grassroots community action research inquiry very well. The justification for th is approach is thoro ughly explained in the methodology section, but I would like to add ho w important I found this approach to be when attempting to understand individual motiv ations. When participant responses are understood holistically and in their real contex t, the science and theo ry emerge from the

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101 data. All research approaches are important to achieve a robust understanding of this phenomenon. I found this methodology par ticularly enlightening and helpful for scientifically capturing grassroots action.

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APPENDIX A INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR STAGE 2 AND CORRESPON DING THEORIES

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103Question Theorietical and Conceptual Basis How long have you lived in this neighbhorhood? How long have you been the leader of your nighborhood watch group? How does your family feel about your leadership role in the community? Ecological What inspired you to become involved with your communi ty work in the first place? Social Movement, Ecological How do you benefit personally from your community involvement? How does your involvement benefit the community? Efficacy When you are working as a community organizer, who else do you count on or work with? Field Theory How do you think the changes, both the good and the bad in the communiity over the past couple of years, have affected the liv es of the residents here? Ecological, Efficacy Why do you think other people participate in neighborhood watch? If you could have any three things in the world, what would you wish most for your community? Perhaps within the physical, soci al and economic environment? Ecological How much do you think people feel a part of this neighbhorhood? What do you think leads them to feel like they belong? Field Theory, Ecological On a scale of 1-10, one being the lowest and ten being the best, how much do you feel that you have the resources needed to get things done? Efficacy, Ecological How much of an impact do you f eel your work in the community makes? Would you say a lot of impact, some impact, a little impact or no impact? Can you share with me 3 examples of times where you made that impact? Efficacy What keeps you energized to keep working in your community when times are hard or others don’t participate or help? Efficacy, Social Movement

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104 Question Theorietical and Conceptual Basis What are some of the things you’ve had to overcome to get things done in your community? (Barriers) Field Theory, Social Movement What other types of volunteer work do you do? Field Theory How responsible do you feel for the quality of life in your community? How responsible do you feel for being a leader? Why do you feel responsible? Do you think other people in the community feel this kind of responsibility? Social Movement

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105 APPENDIX B INTERVIEW PROTOCOL 1. How long have you lived in this neighborhood? 2. How long have you been the leader of your neighborhood watch group? 3. What inspired you to become involved in your community work? For example, was there a particular person, event, or period in history that inspired you? 4. How does your family feel about your leadership role in the community? 5. What other types of volunteer work do you do? 6. When you are working as a community or ganizer, who else do you count on or work with to get things done?

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106 7. What are some of the things you’ve ha d to overcome to get things done in your community? (Barriers)… … (write) Are there economic barriers? Barriers about race or cultural differences? Are there barriers that come from the local government? Barriers with people’s attitudes about how things should or have been done… 8. On a scale of 1-10, one being the lowest and ten being the best, how much do you feel that you have the resources n eeded to get things done? 9. How much of an impact do you feel your work in the community makes? a. Would you say a lot of impact, some impact, a little impact or no impact? b. Can you share with me three exam ples of times where you made that impact? 10. What keeps you energized to keep working in your community when times are hard or others don’t participate or help? 11. How responsible do you feel for the qua lity of life in your community? How responsible do you feel for being a leader? b. Why do you feel responsible?

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107 12. How much do you think that people feel li ke they are a part of this neighborhood? What do you think leads them to feel like they belong? 13. If you could have any three things in the world, what would you wish for your community? Perhaps within the physica l, social and economic environment?

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108 LIST OF REFERENCES Adler, G. (1994). Community action and maximum feasible participation: An opportunity lost but not forgotten for expanding democracy at home. Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy, 8 547-571. Ajzen, I., & Fishbein, M. (1980). Understanding attitudes and pr edicting social behavior. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Anstey, J.M., Hofer, S.M. (2004). Longit udinal designs, methods and analysis in psychiatric research. Australian and New Zealand J ournal of Psychiatry, 38 (3), 93. Austin, D.M., Baba, Y. (1990). Social determinants of neighborhood attachment. Sociological Spectrum, 10 59-78. Babbie, Earl (1998). Units of analysis in The practice of social research. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84 (2), 191-215. Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and ac tion: A social cognitive theory Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Bandura, A. (1988). Perceived self-efficacy: Exercise of control through self-belief. In J. P. Dauwalder, M. Perrez, & V. Hobi (Eds.), Annual series of European research in behavior therapy, 2, pp. 27–59. Lisse, The Netherlands: Swets & Zeitlinger Bandura, A. (1994). Self-efficacy. In V.S. Ramachurdran (Ed.), Encyclopaedia of human behavior (Vol. 4, pp. 71-81). New York: Academic Press. Bandura, A., Adams, N.E., Beyer, J. (1977) Cognitive Processes Mediating Behavioral Change. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35 (3), 125-139. Barling, J. Beattie, R. (1983). Self-efficacy beliefs and sales performance. Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, (5) 41-51. Berg, B. (2004). Qualitative research for the social sciences Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

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120 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH I grew up in Rockville Centre, NY, where I received an International Baccalaureate diploma from high school. I received a bach elors of Science in family, youth and community sciences from the University of Florida in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. I entered the combined bach elor's and masters program in the Family, Youth and Community Sciences Departme nt. My academic focuses have been community development, grassroots commun ity action and service learning. I will received a Master of Science in August 2006 from the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.


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Title: Motivations to Grassroots Community Action in the Context of Poverty
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Copyright Date: 2008

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Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
    Dedication
        Page iii
    Acknowledgement
        Page iv
    Table of Contents
        Page v
        Page vi
    List of Tables
        Page vii
    List of Figures
        Page viii
    Abstract
        Page ix
        Page x
    Introduction and problem statement
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
    Literature review
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
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    Methods
        Page 42
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        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
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        Page 50
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    Results
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
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    Discussion
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    Biographical sketch
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Full Text












MOTIVATIONS TO GRASSROOTS COMMUNITY ACTION IN THE CONTEXT OF
POVERTY














By

JADE VANESSA MARCUS


A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF SCIENCE

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2006

































Copyright 2006

by

Jade Vanessa Marcus
































This document is dedicated to my Father.















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to thank my Father for always supporting me and giving me the best

possible advice. I would also like to thank my other friends and family for always being

there for me when my thesis made me cry. My cochairs Dr. Carolyn Wilken and Dr.

Marilyn Swisher have been incredibly kind and patient throughout this process as well.
















TABLE OF CONTENTS

page

A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ................................................................................................. iv

LIST OF TABLES ................................................... vii

LIST OF FIGURES ................................ .. ......... ............................ viii

A B S T R A C T ........................................................................................................ ........... ix

CHAPTER

1 INTRODUCTION AND PROBLEM STATEMENT.............................................1...

P o v e rty .......................................................................................................................... 2
S o cial W ell-b ein g ................................................................................................ 3
Community action and well-being..........................................................................4...
Purpose of research .......................... ........... ........................................ 7
A ssu m p tio n s ........................................................................................................ .. 8
L im itatio n s ......................................................... ................................................ .. 9

2 LITERATURE REVIEW ................................................................................... 10

C o m m u n ity .............. ...... ..................................................................................... .. 1 0
Community Theoretical Perspectives................................................................... 14
R ural Sociology: Field Theory ....................................................... ................ 16
Community field .. .................................................................. 17
Social fi eld ........................................................................................... 18
Social M ovem ent..... .................................................................. ............... 19
Community Agency and Action ........................................................ 21
C om m unity D evelopm ent...................................................................... ................ 25
Motivations and Barriers to Community Action .............. ....................................27
M otiv ation s for A action ........................................................................................2 8
Social interaction ....................................... .. ....................... . .......... 30
C om m unity attachm ent ........................................................... .................. 3 1
E ffic a cy ........................................................................................................ 3 3
B barriers to A action .............. .................. ................................................ 36
P o v erty ....................................................................................................... .......... 3 9
D istre ss ...................................................................................................... ........ .. 4 0



v









3 M E T H O D S ................................................................................................................. 4 2

Approach ............................................. .................................. 42
Site Selection ....................................................................................................... 44
Context of Poverty ... ................................................................ 44
H history of Com m unity A ction.................. .................................................. 45
M e th o d s ......................................................................................................................4 6
Sampling.................... ....... ..... .. .......................47
Stage 1: Key informant interviews for questionnaire development.............47
Stage 2: Local leaders of neighborhood watch organizations...................48
P ro c e ss ............................................................................................................. .. 4 8
D ata A n aly sis .............................................................................................................. 5 0

4 R E S U L T S ................................................................................................................. .. 5 3

5 D ISCU SSION ............................................................................ ....... ........ ............... 69

Self-efficacy ................................. ............................. ............... 70
C om m unity A ttachm ent. ..................................................................... ................ 79
Com m unity Ecology ...... .. ................................ .......................... .............. 85
S o cial S u p p o rt............................................................................................................. 8 7
Participants' R sourcess. .................................................................. ............... 88
P erceived B barriers to A action ........................................ ....................... ................ 92
C o n c lu sio n ............................................................................................................... .. 9 6

6 R E C O M M E N D A T IO N S.............................................. .......... ..............................98

APPENDIX

A INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR STAGE 2 AND CORRESPONDING
T H E O R IE S ............................................................................................................... 10 2

B IN TER V IEW PR O TO C O L .......................................... ....................... ............... 105

LIST O F R EFEREN CE S ... ................................................................... ............... 108

BIOGRAPH ICAL SKETCH .................. .............................................................. 120
















LIST OF TABLES


Table page

4.1 Data analysis for question three to understand participants' initial motivation for
action n ...................................................................................................... ........ .. 5 5

4.2 Data analysis for question four to understand participants' family social support..56

4.3 Data analysis for question six to understand participants' domains of resources
for com m unity action ...... ...... ................ ........................... 57

4.4 Data analysis for question seven to understand participants' barriers to
community action .................... .. ........... .....................................58

4.5 Bar graph of participants' resource level scores and the number of participants
w ho identified w ith each resource level.............................................. ............... 59

4.6 Data analysis for question eight to understand participants' perceived low level
of resou rces .............. ...................................... .............. ............................. . 60

4.7 Data analysis for question nine to understand participants' self-efficacy .............61

4.8 Data analysis for question ten to understand participants' self-efficacy...............62

4.9 Data analysis for question eleven to understand participants' perceived level of
responsibility for improving community quality of life......................................64

4.10 Data analysis for question twelve to understand participants' community
atta ch m en t ................................................................................................................ 6 6

4.11 Data analysis for question thirteen to understand participants' community
e c o lo g y ................................................................................................................. ... 6 8















LIST OF FIGURES


Figure page

5.1 Sources of Community action self-efficacy as predictors for community action ... 72

5.2 Interaction, percieved needs and mastery experience work together as sources of
self-efficacy and as predictors for community action .........................................74

5.3 Feedback loop between mastery experience, social support, psychological state
an d self-efficacy ......................................................................................... 76

5.4 Self-efficacy creates four self-efficacy activated processes as predictors for
community action .............................................................. 79

5.5 Sources of community attachment as predictors for community action ............... 83

5.6 Feedback loop between mastery experience, self-efficacy, efficacy-activated
processes and com m unity attachm ent................................................. ................ 85

5.7 Interaction and social support increase participant resources and contribute to
self-effi cacy .............................................................................................................. 9 1

5.8 Conceptual model of motivations for community action....................................97















Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science

MOTIVATIONS TO GRASSROOTS COMMUNITY ACTION IN THE CONTEXT OF
POVERTY

By

Jade Vanessa Marcus

August 2006

Chair: Dr. Carolyn S. Wilken
Cochair: Dr. Marilyn E. Swisher
Major Department: Family, Youth and Community Sciences

The objective of this research was to uncover the factors that motivate individuals

for community action in poor or distressed neighborhoods. Poverty is a significant

problem in communities across the United States. Understanding the dynamics of

neighborhood grassroots action in poor neighborhoods is important because community

action increases social and material well-being in communities. This project used a

multiple case study design and a grounded theory approach for data collection and

analysis due to the large number of possible predictors of motivation for community

action. The study site was a mid-sized University city in the southeast United States.

The site was selected based on high poverty rates and a history of community action.

Key informant interviews were conducted to identify important leaders of action, and

semi-structured interviews were conducted with local neighborhood watch and

community association leaders. The most important motivations for community action










among participants in this study were having a high community action self-efficacy and

feelings of community attachment. Major barriers to action for the study participants

were apathy among other residents, government bureaucracy, and low levels of available

resources.














CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION AND PROBLEM STATEMENT

The purpose of this study was to understand the motivations and barriers to

participation in grassroots-level community action within the socioeconomic context of

poverty. The role of resident-level action within the context of poverty is of primary

importance in understanding the quality of life, the realization of human potential and

capacity, community development and social change in poor communities across the

United States.

The community has been described as the most important setting for social well-

being (Wilkinson, 1991). Communities are where individual, group and other local

capacities are realized and pursued through interaction with other residents in the

community. Uncovering the actions and interactions of residents of poor communities

can provide insight about how we can work with local residents to create programs and

policies that use, compliment, and enhance community dynamics, as well as improve the

quality of life for the local people.

Residents living in the same locality interact over common issues, and this

interaction gives structure to local life (Luloff & Bridger, 2003). Yet little of the current

research on civic participation has focused on whether neighborhood context influences

participation (Stoll, 2001). Since poverty is characterized by a struggle to meet basic

needs such as food, shelter, utilities and healthcare, for community members living in

these poor areas we need to ask, "What interactions and community actions occur to

address basic needs?"









Poverty

This project is placed in the context of poor neighborhoods because poverty is a

significant problem in the U.S. today, yet we do not know how the experience of living in

poverty serves as a motivation or barrier to participating in the life of the community.

Poverty is primarily an indication of an individual's or family's economic status.

Distress is a term meant to signify the severely different experiences of communities

based on high unemployment, low income, high poverty, unstable economies, population

outmigration or other socioeconomic problems (Glasmeier, Wood & Feullhart, 2006).

Neighborhoods affected by poverty show symptoms of distress such as dilapidated

housing, poor infrastructure, poor schools and decreases in the quality of life in poor

areas. Although the poverty rate in 2004 was nearly 10% lower than in 1959, the first

year for which poverty estimates are available, both the number and rates of poverty have

risen for four consecutive years to 12.7% and 37.0 million people in 2004 from the most

recent low in 2000 at 11.3% and 31.6 million people (U.S. Census, 2005). In Florida in

2002, the poverty rate was 12.6%. In Alachua County, FL in 2002, 15.1% of all people

lived in poverty.

The family and every individual in it is considered in poverty when a family's total

income is less than the family's calculated poverty threshold, determined by the Federal

government (U.S. Census, 2005). For example, a parent with three related children under

the age of 18 would be considered in poverty if they earned less than $19,223 in 2004.

The official poverty thresholds do not vary geographically, but they are updated for

inflation using the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U).

Poverty exists in a many settings. Over one-third of the nation's poor live in

suburbs (O'Hare, 1996). Contrary to what many people believe, metropolitan areas have









slightly lower poverty rates than rural areas, although rural poverty is less visible. In

2003, 14.2 percent of the population, or 7.5 million people, living in nonmetropolitan

(population < 2,500) areas were poor. In contrast, the metropolitan poverty rate was 12.1

percent in 2003 (United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service,

2004). The Economic Research Service (ERS) defines counties as persistently poor if 20

percent or more of the population has been living in poverty over the last 30 years,

measured by the 1970, 1980, 1990 and 2000 decennial censuses. Using this definition,

there are 386 persistently poor counties in the United States, comprising 12 percent of all

U.S. counties and four percent of the U.S. population. The majority, 340 of 386, of the

persistent poverty counties are non-metropolitan counties (Economic Research Service,

2004). Among the four geographic regions in the U.S., Northeast, Midwest, West and

South, the South has the highest poverty rate at 13.5% (U.S. Census, 2004).

Figueira-McDonough (1995) confirmed the pattern originally described by the

National Research Council in the 1980's. While the poverty rate remained fairly constant

from 1970 to 1980, there was a 75% increase in the number of census tracts with

concentrated poverty. These facts demonstrate that as a nation-wide social problem,

poverty has condensed into neighborhoods and communities (Stoll, 2001; Jarkowski,

1997).

Social Well-being

The extensive interactions and actions that contribute to the emergence of

community in turn shape the social well-being of local residents (Wilkinson, 1991).

Social conditions therefore, play an important, if not an all-powerful role, in individual

well-being (Wilkinson, 1991). In fact, high rates of poverty and inequality in

predominantly rural areas stand out most dramatically as a factor in community









interaction and social well-being (Joint Economic Committee, 1986). It therefore makes

sense that a threshold must be achieved in meeting basic physiological needs for food,

safety, and other lower order needs, in order to facilitate social well being (Wilkinson,

1991). At the social level, this demand generalizes the needs for jobs, income, markets,

homes and a range of services. Deficits in these components of material well-being give

direct evidence of problems of social well-being (Wilkinson, 1991). Interactions,

participation or association with others is both of instrumental and intrinsic value to

social well-being, and the community is a principal arena of interpersonal association

(Wilkinson, 1991).

Understanding the dynamics that occur between meeting basic needs and

facilitating community action in disadvantaged communities has not been addressed by

current research in community studies. This urgency is illustrated by Wilkinson who

makes the point that

where protection and enhancement of material holdings becomes a dominant social
activity, community and the human potential for well-being it supports can be said
to fade into the background, if not to disappear completely from social interaction. (
pp.78, 1991)

It is vital that we understand the successful efforts and constant struggles of individuals

and families in poverty so that we can begin to mitigate the sacrifices of well-being that

too many poor American people make each day.

Community action and well-being

The local community is the primary setting and point of contact between the

individual and society (Konig, 1968; Wilkinson, 1991). Here, large scale social problems

are materialized at an individual and group level The actions of local residents in support

of their communities are vital to social and economic viability (Luloff & Bridger, 2003).









Members of disadvantaged groups do engage in collective behavior in order to improve

their situation under certain circumstances (Simon et al., 1998). These actions enhance

the well-being of those involved when they occur (Wilkinson, 1991). Community action

is the process of building social relationships in the pursuit of common community

interests (Wilkinson, 1991; Luloff & Bridger, 2003). These actions are most successful

when people act together to improve material conditions of their shared life, which is

important in addressing the needs in poor neighborhoods. Collective action will occur

because collective action has its roots in the private problems of individuals as long as

there are human beings confronting a harsh physical and/or social environment

(Summers, 1985). This research aims to understand the true roots of grassroots action.

Action is based on the needs and wants of the community, and motivations serve to

stimulate the initial stages of social action (Wilkinson, 1991). A need exists for local

community and economic development efforts from government, Extension programs

and non-profit agencies to better understand the role of action in dealing with the needs

and interests of communities living in poverty.

The concept of community agency, or the mobilization of collective human

resources, has not been well addressed in the research done on community development

(Luloff & Swanson, 1995). An asset based approach is useful for mobilizing the

potential resources in a community. This is when people in communities organize to

drive the development process themselves through identifying and mobilizing existing,

but often unrecognized, assets (Mathie & Cunningham, 2003). Agency represents the

capacity for community action, so this lack of research prohibits social scientists from

understanding how we can mobilize the human potential for development in communities









using this asset-based approach. This shortfall has contributed to the struggle of social policy to

meliorate local efforts to address social problems (Luloff & Swanson, 1995). Additionally, the

failure to incorporate community agency into economic development programs has hindered our

ability to understand and therefore assist community development efforts (Luloff & Swanson,

1995).

Examining the nature of community action has been previously approached by community

sociologists who have addressed the question, "how do communities act?" (Luloff, 1990; Tilly,

1973). Luloff states that this is a necessary area of research in order to make relevant

contribution to community studies. The people that live near each other and interact with one

another are the molecules which form the matter of community, and are the agents which

perform the theoretical acts of community. Observing the motivations for action at the

individual level will provide a context for examining the role of human volition in the daily

commerce of community (Luloff, 1990).

More specific evidence further suggests that community action is vital to understanding

and improving communities in poverty. Community action had decidedly positive effects in

communities defined as poor or inadequate in terms of housing, income, population, employment

trends and poverty, and community action (Martin & Wilkinson, 1984). Essentially, high levels

of activeness in communities with high distress yielded receipt of federal funding for community

and economic development. If we can develop an understanding of the motivations and barriers

that impact high levels of action in these distressed, poor communities, we can apply these

findings to facilitate sustainable development and change in impoverished areas throughout the

United States. A further understanding of the nature and motivations of these actions in

distressed communities is the primary goal of this research.









Purpose of research

Extensive research is needed to understand how collective cohesiveness and an increased

well being for citizens in communities emerge out of community activity (Luloff, 1990). The

purpose of this research is to better understand potential social, psychological, physical, cultural

and economic motivations and barriers to participation in community actions within a

community in poverty. This research will explore the underlying forces and the context within

which intervention and development can be planned (Summers, 1986).

While social scientists have long been aware of the importance of group influences and

interactions in socioeconomic deprivation, it has been difficult to formally study these

interactions, because data have not existed to allow the level of insight that a social science

approach can provide (Durlauf, 2000). A community case study of human motivations and

interactions in the particular socioeconomic context of poverty will contribute to this

understanding.

The objectives of this research are to

1. Uncover how participants describe the factors that motivate individuals to participate in
community action in the context of poverty.
2. Describe the barriers that limit or prevent participation of residents in community actions
in poor communities.
Definitions

Barrier: any physical, cultural, psychological, or emotional factor which prevents an

individual from acting, namely within the community (Luloff & Bridger, 2003).

Community: a natural and ubiquitous phenomenon among people who share a common

territory and interact with one another on place relevant matters (Bridger & Luloff, 1999).

Community action: the process of building social relationships in pursuit of common

community interests and maintaining local life (Wilkinson, 1970, 1991; Luloff & Bridger, 2003).









Community agency: the mobilization of collective human resources, the local capacity of

people, to manage, utilize and enhance resources available to them (Luloff & Swanson, 1995).

Community attachment: the degree to which residents feel a social and psychological

bond to a shared space with local inhabitants (Wilkinson, 1991).

Community involvement: participation in community oriented activities (Kaufman, 1977;

Wilkinson, 1991).

Distress: the experience of communities based on high unemployment, low income, high

poverty, unstable economies, population outmigration or other socioeconomic problems

(Glasmeier, Wood & Feullhart, 2006).

Grassroots mobilization: resident-level organization of individuals in a community to

collectively act in pursuit of a common goal (Rubin & Rubin, 2001).

Motivation: any physical, cultural, psychological, environmental or emotional factor that

contributes to an individual acting in their community (Bandura, 1994).

Poverty: a person or family is considered in poverty if the family's total income is less

than the family's threshold (Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Statistical Policy

Directive 14), then that family and every individual in it is considered in poverty (U.S. Census,

2005).

Self-efficacy: the belief that one has the capability to perform a particular behavior

(Compeau & Higgins, 1995).

Assumptions

This study assumes that people can be classified into two degrees of community action;

active and inactive. It also assumes that community residents and key informants will answer the

questions thoughtfully, carefully and honestly. Also, residents are assumed to be poor, working

poor, or at least living in a poor community because the location of the study is in a geographic









area that falls within the demographic and statistical guidelines of living in poverty and does not

distinguish relative poverty between each individual interviewed.

Limitations

A limitation to this study is that by using a case study design, the sample will not be

representative to all impoverished communities and will only be able to describe and explain the

particular experiences of residents in the community in this study.

Another limitation is that the study of community action has been relatively unexamined

within the specific socioeconomic context of poverty and no previously tested methods or

instrumentation are available to work with this particular population.














CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW

The following sections review the current literature about the concepts in the

research question. First I will elaborate on the meanings and theoretical nature of

community and community action. Then there is a review of previous concepts and

research findings that have attempted to explain the motivations and barriers related to

community action. There is also a brief review of relevant poverty literature.

Community

Community has been defined in several different ways. The Greek meaning of the

word community is "fellowship". Aristotle argued that people came together in a

community setting for the enjoyment of mutual association, to fulfill basic needs, and to

find meaning in life (Christenson, Fendley & Robinson, 1989). Today's concepts are

similar to this historical perspective. Sociological definitions emphasize interpersonal

bonds, such as a shared territory, a common life, collective actions, and mutual identity

(Wilkinson, 1991). However, in both the sociological context (Hillary, 1955) and in

ordinary language and thought (Plant, 1974), one common denominator of community

substance stands out, social interaction (Wilkinson, 1991).

Schamelenbach (1961) says that community is a natural state of being in relation to

others. Wilkinson states that community "simply refers to the fact that one naturally is

connected to other people" (1991, pp. 6). Christenson et al. define community as "people

that live within a geographically bounded area who are involved in social interaction and

have one or more psychological ties with each other and with the place in which they









live" (1989, pp.4). Community usually arises in territorially based relationships within

the locality (Wilkinson, 1991). A significant portion of our meaningful interaction takes

place in a defined spatial area through local resources such as work, education, driving on

roads, or buying groceries (Christenson, Fendley & Robinson, 1989).

Etzioni offers an alternative perspective on the definition of community, denying

the need of a locality for a community to exist, and questions the benefits of community

(2000). The strength of relationships between individuals who share the same values and

norms create an identity that can be defined as a community. These values are

established through moral dialogue and are maintained by informal social controls rather

than laws (Etzioni, 2000). However, laws must reflect these values so that individuals in

the community feel the regulations imposed on them are just and will voluntarily

subscribe to these laws. Individuals engage in social bonds, but they also maintain a

strong sense of self-identity and autonomy (Etzioni, 2000).

New urbanism offers another perspective on the role of the community locality. It

stresses that the physical design and built environment can encourage resident interaction

and social cohesion to rebuild a sense of community, which some scientist feel is lost

(Katz, 1994). This approach tries to build community by integrating private residential

space with surrounding public space and careful design and placement of public space

(Talen, 1999, pp.1363). Community elements arguably can be built into localities by

accounting for them in the planning process. However, Talen criticizes the new urbanist

perspective condemning it for its lack of empirical evidence about the relationship

between town design and community attachment (1999).









The concept of connectedness and interaction is prevalent in Putnam's social

capital theory (2000). This perspective argues that people feel an obligation toward one

another in communities characterized by high levels of trust, strong norms of reciprocity,

and dense networks of civic engagement (Putnam, 2000). This enables people to work

together for the common good (Luloff & Bridger, 2003). Some social scientists have

defined social capital simply as social networks or institutional relations (e.g.,

relationships between civic organization and the government) (Caughy, Campo &

Muntaner, 2003). However, some research reveals that social capital can have a

negative impact due to in-group bias in community associations. Stole (1998) observed

that some community organizations that increase trust among their members also make

them less trusting of those who do not belong to the association.

Coleman's (1988) rational choice theory claims that a persons actions are "shaped,

redirected, constrained by the social context; norms, interpersonal trust, social networks

and social organization are important in the functioning not only of society but also of the

economy" (pp. 96). Others, like Hawley, include social interaction in their definition of

community (1950).

Hillery (1955) and Willis (1977) summarized much of the classic rural sociological

community literature and suggest four main components for defining the concept of

community (Christenson, Fendley & Robinson, 1989). The first is that a community

involves people. Secondly, a place or territory should be an element of community

(Hillery, 1955). The third element is social interaction, and the fourth is a psychological

identification, or a common attachment with a community (Christenson, Fendley &

Robinson, 1989).









Interactions, or association with others is both of instrumental and intrinsic value to

social well-being and the community is a principal arena of interpersonal association

(Wilkinson, 1991). People who live together tend to interact with one another whether or

not they participate in extra-local structures as well (Wilkinson, 1991). Ostrander

discusses the key importance of social relationships in both rural and urban communities

in ameliorating poverty in her review of the work of Duncan (1999) and Danziger and

Lin (2000) about the social contexts of poor people's lives (2001). The research in both

pieces captures the way people in poverty understand and create their perceptions of their

day-to-day lives. Ostrander (2001) underscores the importance of this understanding in

developing effective policies and programs to alleviate poverty. Knowledge of

relationships among individuals and organizations in a community provides information

to use to predict the range and/or breadth of potential community responses to local

problems, both in the short and long term (Luloff, 1990).

We study community because the emergence of community is essential to the

satisfaction of human needs, especially the need to not feel alienated from society

(Greisman, 1980). Over the last decade, many scholars have argued that the local

ecological context is central to understanding the factors that affect such diverse

processes as socialization, workforce participation, intellectual development, successful

aging, physical and mental health and persistent poverty (Luloff & Bridger, 2003; Claude

et al., 2000; Hylton, 1995; Tigges et al., 1998; Wilkinson, 1991; Wilson, 1995, 1996).

Healy (1998) also argues that the neighborhood is a useful level for understanding

everyday social interactions. A community theoretical perspective is appropriate to study

the motivations to grassroots action.









The community is a field of social interaction with the capacity to influence and

shape the well-being of participants (Summers, 1986). An examination of community

focuses on the social life of people whose behaviors give the territory its social meaning

(Wilkinson, 1991). A community theoretical perspective can help us examine social and

structural problems. It also provides an arena for applying such knowledge in

intervention and prevention to improve individual and community quality of life.

Community Theoretical Perspectives

Warren's "great change" theory discusses the transformation of community life.

He argues that communities have become more internally differentiated as they have

become increasingly reliant on extra local institutions and sources of income (1963, 1971,

1978). This causes the ties that connected all parts of a community to break. Following

World War II, this trend forced local decisions, policy and program creation to extra-

community systems outside of the locality (Warren, 1963). Local people had decreasing

control over their immediate ecology, but increasing social and economic opportunities

with the larger society. This process of creating more vertical (outside of the locality)

ties has increasingly attenuated the importance of local relationships and the diverse

intra-community (horizontal) interactions and activities in people's daily lives (Luloff &

Bridger, 2003).

Warren's concept of a changing nature of community provides the context of the

systems theory approach (Luloff, 1990). This approach views the persisting patterns of

social relationships among interacting social units as the center of attention. The systems

are adaptive entities that minimize changes from outside the community and decrease the

impact of these changes on the internal structure of community (Warren, 1978). Systems

theory assumes that the community status quo is healthy and provides for resident's basic









needs. This approach does not adequately address the dynamics of a disadvantaged

population because it does not consider the necessary changes and actions that can occur

within a community.

The massification of society approach also attempts to explain the historic barriers

to community agency. Shils's (1972) argument explained the abandonment of a territorial

or locality-based community for a larger, mass-societal community. This suggests that

larger systems undermine community and individual well-being (Luloff & Bridger,

2003). These processes are viewed as undemocratic because they reproduce the class

interests of local elites and do not necessarily represent the majority (Luloff & Swanson,

1995). Structural or macro-level forces have an effect on community functioning and

well-being. A micro or more individual level approach is necessary to allow the

examination of interactions and events that lead to grassroots community action in order

to understand individual action.

Macro-level or systematic approaches to understanding community look at the

large-scale infrastructure, institutions and societal level trends that can affect community

from the top down. They do not focus on the complexities and nature of local dynamics

within communities. Therefore they do not permit an examination of the grassroots level

social forces that exist on a more micro or individual level. Glennerster et al. (1999)

discuss the importance of a neighborhood level focus as well. It is important to recognize

the horizontal and vertical linkages between local activities and the larger society without

dismissing local activities as irrelevant (Christenson, Fendley & Robinson, 1989). A

community or neighborhood can exist with close linkage to the larger society and still

retain its identity and viability because it provides a basis for the local population to









engage in community actions (Meegan & Mitchell, 2001; Christenson, 1982).

Grassroots community action can therefore shape the ecology and identity of a

community. It would be valuable to know exactly how resident level social forces

facilitate the persistence of horizontal linkages in communities, as well as how these

forces or actions shape local quality of life.

Two views about the model of community are important. The first has its origins

in classic rural sociology and stems out of the struggles of isolated, primarily

homogenous, poor rural areas. The second consists of theories that stem from the social

movement model, which grew out of the urban experience. This perspective focuses on

the ways neighborhood organizations link together to create broad based social networks.

Rural Sociology: Field Theory

Field theory presents a framework for understanding how community emerges

through social interaction and participation (Kaufman, 1977; Wilkinson, 1979,

Wilkinson, 1991; Luloff & Swanson, 1995). Community is a natural and ubiquitous

phenomenon among people who share a common territory and interact with one another

on place relevant matters in the interactional perspective (Bridger & Luloff, 1999).

Wilkinson focuses on interaction as the persistent feature of local life, stating that "social

interaction delineates a territory as the community locale; it provides the associations that

comprise the local society; it gives direction to processes of collective action; and it is the

source of community identity" (Wilkinson, 1991, pp., 34). Field theory argues that the

interactions of community members are the foundation of community that links the other

three elements of a community together, people, attachment and locality. This perspective

explores the fundamental organization of interdependence among people and focuses on

the ways collective action emerges.









Interaction creates the framework, motivation, and social linkages necessary for

action and social participation. It therefore affects the social behavior and organization of

people. People behave and act purposively in response to their interactions and the

impressions they draw from connecting with others (Luloff & Bridger, 2003). Such

conditions contribute to action, which is generally seen as purposive efforts seeking

social change at the local level (Wilkinson, 1991). A threat from an out-group imposed

on a community increases social cohesion. In turn, the opportunity to engage in

community action is high when internal cohesion is high (Luloff, 1990). The desired

end-state of field theory is that community members engage in associational action

(Luloff, 1990). A field theoretical perspective moves beyond the calculation of essential

features of a locality, such as institutional structures, to an examination of the dynamic

processes of human interaction that are indicative of community (Luloff, 1990).

Community field

From a field theoretical perspective, a community is a dynamic field, a term used in

both behavioral and social sciences (Mey, 1972; Yinger, 1965). The use of the field

concept is more inclusive and more indicative of dynamics as opposed to arena or stage,

which denote the context but not the activity, which is critical (Wilkinson, 1970). It is

dynamic because it is in a continuous state of change. The term field also refers to the

quality of a community as a complete and integrated whole (Wilkinson, 1991). The

community field consists of actors, associations and organizations and its activities are

directed toward specific interests (Wilkinson, 1991). It cuts across other organized

groups and across other interaction fields in a local population and integrates all of these

diverse fields into a generalized whole. The theoretical community field emerges when

people interact and facilitate this core element of community.









An important quality of a community field, as defined by Wilkinson (1970), is that

its character does not come from the collective properties of its parts, various social

fields, but from the outcome of the interaction of these parts. Community field is

therefore emergent. As the community field arises out of the various special interest

fields in the locality, it asserts comprehensive community interests in the various spheres

of local activity (Wilkinson, 1991). The key component in this process is the creation and

maintenance of linkages and channels of interaction among social fields that otherwise

focus on more limited interests (Bridger and Luloff, 1999).

Social field

Wilkinson (1991) defines a social field as an unbounded whole or "an emergent

structure in a dynamic process of social action." They are unbounded because the

elements that comprise a field are the acts of people and not the physical or symbolic

features that are typically used to delineate boundaries. An act can occur in more than

one field at a time because social fields are unbounded (Bridger & Luloff, 1999). Social

fields, such as schools, government and community groups, are loosely bounded arenas

of interaction. Community evolves as members of these fields interact with each other

over issues relevant to their mutual interests (Wilkinson, 1991). The presence of such

fields creates opportunities for collective action, but does not guarantee or facilitate the

emergence of collective action (Luloff & Swanson, 1995). Field theory is a non-

deterministic view focusing on the dynamics of emergence (Wilkinson, 1970). The

nature of the emergence of these actions within the socioeconomic context of poverty is

of particular interest in this research.

A field theoretical or interaction approach is receiving more attention in poverty

research. Durlauf (2000) presents a new framework for the study of individual behavior









and social interactions. This new approach emphasizes how social context and social

interdependencies influence the ways in which individuals make choices. Group-based

explanations of poverty have become more important, due to the increasing evidence that

individual-level explanations are inadequate for understanding many differences in

socioeconomic outcomes. Durlauf argues that socioeconomic outcomes depend upon the

composition of the groups which we are members over the course of our lives. Such

groups may be defined along many dimensions, including ethnicity, the neighborhoods in

which we live, our schools, and our places of work (Institute for Research on Poverty,

2005). Durlauf used community interactions used as measures of social dynamics within

local populations. This provides empirical evidence for a memberships-based theory of

poverty.

Social Movement

Social movement theory identifies community as a geographic place, the bonds that

people share, the shared concerns about specific issues, and a set of obligations and

responsibilities people assume (Rubin & Rubin, 2001). From this perspective,

community organizing is about solving present day problems (Rubin & Rubin, 2001).

Several theoretical frameworks have emerged from broad social movement

theory; including social constructionist and new social movement theories (Langman,

2005). New social movement theories focus on collective identity and participation in

collective action (Langman, 2005). These theories tend to value participatory,

democratic relations and decentralized forms of organization (Castells, 1997).

Social movement researchers often focus on the factors that motivate people to

take part in collective action. Questions of when and how people come to join social

movements, or form them in the first place, can be approached from both a macrolevel









and a microlevel perspective (McAdam, McCarthy, & Zald, 1988). Typically, people

tend to associate with people similar to themselves (Klandermans, 1992, pp. 88). From

the microlevel perspective, people participate when they are closely linked to the

associational movement networks required for action (McAdam, 1994). Face to face

interaction is the most effective way of getting people involved in social movements

(Clark, 2004).

The voluntary association is the basic social infrastructure of a social movement.

When individuals participate in voluntary associations they build social relationships and

access to social resources (Stoll, 2001). Their participation also enhances their social and

economic prospects (Stoll, 2001). Social movement theory identifies organizations as

either expressive or instrumental (Gordon & Babchuk, 1959; Woodard, 1986). Social

clubs and sports organizations are examples of expressive organizations. They provide

pleasurable interaction among members and participants often participate to increase their

self-esteem (Stoll, 2001). Instrumental organizations, such as political and PTA

associations, are task oriented. People participate to influence the creation or

maintenance of a desired condition (Stoll, 2001).

Empowerment is the core goal of organizing for Rubin and Rubin (2001).

Empowerment "is a psychological feeling that individuals have when they believe they

can accomplish chosen goals; it is also a political or organizational strength that enables

people to collectively carry out their will" (Rubin & Rubin, 2001, pp. 77). Personal and

social changes rely on empowerment (Bandura, 1988). Some studies indicate that

empowerment operates through the self-efficacy mechanism (Bandura, 1986). People feel

empowered when they recognize that their contribution helps the group succeed.









Empowerment grows through a positive cycle where personal and collective successes

reinforce one another (Rubin & Rubin, 2001). This cycle can in turn build individual

self-efficacy and motivate individuals to act.

Community Agency and Action

Locality orientation is a central theme in most definitions of community action.

Locality typically refers to local identification of actors and beneficiaries and to the

distinctively local nature of problems or goals (Wilkinson, 1970). Martin's (2003)

research confirms that communities regard their locality as a meaningful place for

community action to occur. Wilkinson further states that

This interest, which local residents have in common
whether or not they experience it consciously, is pursued in
social interaction and thus is shared. This particular shared
interest that arises in social interaction-the shared interest in
things local- gives the elemental bond of the interactional
community. (pp. 35, 1991)


Residents living in the same locality inevitably interact over common issues and

this interaction gives structure to local life (Luloff & Bridger, 2003). Individuals and

organizations begin to understand common needs and wants when they interact

(Kaufman, 1959; Wilkinson, 1979; Luloff& Swanson, 1995). Meeting the needs of

local people, especially the needs for collective involvement over identified common

issues, is the importance of community (Wilkinson, 1991). Community agency is the

ability or capacity of local people to organize and enhance their available resources to

address local issues and problems (Bridger & Luloff, 1999, Luloff & Bridger, 2003;

Luloff & Swanson, 1995).









Community agency as a social phenomenon emerges in the context of a locality's

people, their talents, and their ability to learn and work together toward common goals

(Luloff & Swanson, 1995). Their collective assets and abilities synergize to develop

community agency when residents and groups interact. This reflects not only the

motivations for social action, but also the collective capacity of the individual or

community for social action. Individuals engage in community action when they exercise

their potential capacities and participate in the creation of social structures (Kaufman,

1959; Wilkinson, 1991).

Collective action can be a powerful mechanism in achieving social change

(Pratkanis & Turner, 1996). Therefore, fostering community agency is a primary

objective of community development efforts (Luloff & Bridger, 2003). Community-

based action is the practical application of community agency. Community action is the

process of building social relationships in pursuit of common community interests and

maintaining local life (Wilkinson, 1970, 91; Luloff& Bridger, 2003). This kind of

focused action is the foundation of the community development process because it

represents deliberate and positive efforts designed to meet the general needs of all local

residents (Marcus & Brennan, 2005).

Community agency and development can be seen as the process of building

relationships to increase the capacity of and use the full human potential of local people.

Mobilization for collective action can generate a sense of communion among those

actively involved in pursuing a common cause (Summers, 1986). Efforts to help people

understand and actualize their individual and community potential are essential to

motivate people and keep them active in both the short and long term. Researchers









uncovered an empirical relationship between the presence of local capitalism and

civically engaged localities with increased socioeconomic well-being in an analysis of

over 3,000 U.S. counties (Tolbert, Lyson & Irwin, 1998). This demonstrates the potential

importance of action in poor communities.

Figueria-McDonough's research shows that organizers must maximize the

internal resources that are special to each community (1995). This includes recognizing

the untapped strength of groups surviving in deprived communities as a basis for active

empowerment (Figueria-McDonough, 1995). Agency is more than the sum of its parts

when communities act (Luloff & Swanson, 1995).

Field theory argues that interactions are the building blocks of communities.

Interactions contribute to community agency, the capacity to act, which facilitates

constructive community action. Community action is measurable and is the primary

indicator of the emergence of community in this theory. Community action and

development has been examined in past literature. Qualitative descriptions of actions in

small communities (e.g. Moxley, 1985; Ploch, 1976; Preston, 1983), statistical analyses

of local actions and government programs in samples of municipalities (Hirschl &

Summers, 1982; Luloff & Wilkinson, 1979; Martin & Wilkinson, 1984; Wilkinson et al.,

1984), and studies of the effects of action programs on community well-being (Johansen

& Fuguitt, 1984: 161-82; Krannich & Humphrey, 1983; McGranahan, 1984) are some of

the contributions (Wilkinson, 1991).

Community agency may entail strong social solidarity and a sense of common

purpose. However, it may also entail uninspiring efforts to organize committee meetings

to mobilize local capital for business or structural improvements (Luloff & Swanson,









1995). These efforts do not take into account the shared needs, interests and

understanding of the residents that comprise a community (Luloff & Swanson, 1995).

The macro-structural characteristics of a community, such as labor force structure, its

demographic profile or economic infrastructure, do not in fact reveal the capacity of a

community to mobilize their human resources through agency (Luloff & Swanson, 1995).

Micro level approaches often involve the examination of participation by individuals in

community-oriented activities providing a more in-depth understanding of interpersonal

resources (Kasarda & Janowitz, 1974; Riger & Lavrakas, 1981; Goudy, 1990).

Community depends on interaction, but this does not mean that the interaction

must have its roots in positive sentiments (Bridger & Luloff, 1999). For example, a

community will act when unusual or adverse events threaten local residents (Wilkinson,

1986). Wilkinson argues that the potential for community action persists and can come

into play at crucial moments when people act or react to conditions to enhance their

threatened situation (1986).

Wilkinson contends that community has and continues to be an important factor

in individual and social well-being. This is evident at crucial moments, when people act

together to express common interests in the place of residence (Wilkinson, 1991).

Summers (1985) also maintains that there will be community as a form of collective

action as long as there are human beings confronting a harsh physical and social

environment. This is because mobilization has its roots in the private troubles of

individuals. At the base of these problems are needs for necessary material goods for

biological survival and security from physical harm (Summers, 1985). Social needs

begin to predominate, when these needs are secured (Summers, 1986). Individuals









quickly discover that they are not alone when they share their needs with others who

share a common space. Private troubles become public issues around which people are

able and sometimes willing to mobilize for collective action (Summers, 1986). Lack of

resources and restricted community development efforts cause individuals to interact and

begin to understand common needs.

Agency and the interactional perspective recognize that local people have the

power to transform and change society when they work together (Wilkinson, 1991).

Wide spread interest, support, and participation in a local action indicates the presence of

a viable community (Luloff, 1990).

Community Development

Local activity is vital for community development (Luloff & Swanson, 1995). In

turn, fostering community agency is central to community development efforts (Luloff &

Bridger, 2003). How do we foster community agency to initiate local activity for

community development? What are the motivations for these actions and interactions?

What may prevent people from fostering agency and utilizing their human potential and

capacities? It is important to clearly identify the meanings of the fairly common phrases,

community development, development of community and development in community.

Community development is the process of building relationships that increase the

adaptive capacity of people who share common territory relationships (Luloff &Bridger,

2003). Fields of locality-oriented action emerge out of the interactions among a local

population when this happens (Wilkinson, 1991; Luloff & Bridger, 2003). The

development in community is distinctly different from the development of community

(Kaufman, 1959). Development in community is cultivating the social processes which

take place in a locality and accomplishing other tangible development tasks like









economic growth, modernization, and improved social services (Summers, 1986).

Development of community is the emergence of the theoretical community field

(Wilkinson, 1991). However, Wilkinson notes that development in community may

facilitate the development of community, and that this is needed to improve social well-

being (1991).

Luloff and Wilkinson (1979) and Martin and Wilkinson (1984) found that both the

structural components of a community and measures of community solidarity contributed

significantly, though independently, to creating community development. Lloyd and

Wilkinson's (1985) study highlights the strong relationship between community activity

and development of community, but the level of local economic well-being tends to

increase with community activity and solidarity.

Hirschl and Summers found that citizen groups, organized for local economic

development, were the single most significant determinant of job growth in 44 Wisconsin

communities (1983). Their findings show how the foundation of community action and

the presence of community can facilitate developments in community. This underscores

the dynamic relationship between these two concepts. Economic development tops the

list of local officials' perceived needs. There is a strong market for this localized

approach to development (Camasso & Moore, 1985; Reinhard & Summers, 1985).

Well-being is directly enhanced when communities exhibit agency and work

together to solve common problems and develop community (Bridger & Luloff, 1999,

2001; Luloff, 1998; Luloff & Swanson, 1995; Wilkinson, 1991). Claude et al. confirmed

this relationship through a study of rural communities in Pennsylvania (2000). They

found that residents rated community well-being higher in communities characterized by









high levels of activity (2000). Community well-being was not correlated with success.

Residents were more likely to have higher perceived social well-being than residents in

communities with high levels of success and low levels of activity in those places with

high levels of activity and low levels of success in community development efforts

(Luloff, 1998). The positive correlation between community activity and community

well-being underscores the importance of building the capacity for community activity in

community development efforts. Community development efforts and community

activity can be useful in improving the quality of life in poor neighborhoods.

The collective capacity of volition and choice, however narrowed by structural

conditions, makes the notion of community agency important in understanding

community well-being. Like individuals, communities make choices and act on them.

How they make these choices, how their perceptions of local issues are constructed, and

the ability of the members of the community to find and process information are

important factors in the use of their economic and social resources (Luloff & Swanson,

1995). The primary focus of this research will be on the motivations of agency and

action on the individual level and the concepts that shape these motivations.

Motivations and Barriers to Community Action

Barriers and motivations to participation coalesce and reinforce one another

because people are capable of overcoming barriers when they are highly motivated

(Klandermans, 1987). The main strategies to mobilize residents for a movement are to

maintain and/or increase motivation and/or to remove barriers (Klandermans, 1987).

Excluding residents from participation is a barrier. In order to enhance motivation or

decrease barriers, research and knowledge of these two factors are needed. Few









longitudinal studies about intended and actual participation limit the discussion of these

motivations and barriers to participation (Klandermans, 1987).

Motivations for Action

Klandermans developed a model of social movement participation, based on a

comprehensive review of pertinent research examining an individual approach or micro-

level participation in social movements. The model includes four steps; (a) becoming

part of the mobilization potential, (b) becoming a target of mobilization attempts, (c)

becoming motivated to participate, and (d) overcoming barriers to participation (1997

;Klandermans & Oegema, 1987 ). Research about mobilization and participation during

the Dutch peace movement identified that the motivation to participate was primarily a

result of collective incentives (Klandermans & Oemega, 1987). This underscores the

importance of the forces that shape the third step in Klandermans' model and the

objective of this research. In his model, motivation or willingness to participate in a

specific collective action is a function of the expected costs and benefits of participation

(Simon et al., 1998). The goal of the movement is the collective good. Those who

identify with the movement's cause benefit from attaining this goal, even if they

individually did not participate in the collective action (Klandermans, 1987). Non-

contributors that may ultimately benefit from these actions are termed free-riders.

People derive part of their self-worth and esteem from their membership in groups

and communities, according to social psychological theories of identity (Hogg &

Abrams, 1988; Tajfel & Turner, 1986). People will voluntarily participate or join when

they feel a social identification with a group or cause. This behavior is an indication of

the strong identification (Klandermans, 2002). In a study about group identification and

the explanation of participation in protest, Klandermans (2002) found that identification









predicts participation in action efforts and helps to overcome lack of participation in

community action (Klandermans, 2002). For example, Simon et al. observed that

identification with the gay movement or with unions of the elderly predicted protest

participation better than identification with the broader categories of gay and the elderly

in general (1998). Similarly, in the context of the women's movement, willingness to

participate in collective action directly increased with members' collective identification

as women (Kelly & Breinlinger, 1995).

Ideological and social incentives were also primary motivations to act in the peace

movement. The increased interactions of participants and the importance of informal

social networks created incentives in these situations (Klandermans, 1987). The authors

relate their findings to Azjen and Fishbein's theory of reasoned action (1989). The

collective motive and the potential rewards of the action determine together the attitude

toward participation in collective action (Azjen & Fishbein, 1989). Attitude and

subjective norm codetermine the intention or willingness to participate in collective

action.

High social support conditions act as a motivation to grassroots action and provide

a means by which residents can fulfill their neighborhood responsibilities in a satisfactory

way (Vasoo, 1991). Social support refers to the degree of cooperation of leaders, degree

of participation by residents, degree of assistance from government, and the financial

ability of the grassroots organization (Vasoo, 1991). Therefore, inadequate social support

adversely affects citizen participation.

Researchers found that the majority of people were motivated by community

concern in a study of motivations to volunteering with AIDS victims (Omoto & Snyder,









2002). People also volunteer to express personal values or humanitarian duties, or due to

the influence of other participating members in their community. This model describes

the community as providing a backdrop for groups, organizations and individuals to

participate in community volunteer activities. The goal is to promote some form of social

change while potentially increasing societal cooperation and civic participation (Omoto

& Snyder, 2002).

In field theory research, both macro-level structural forces, as well as interactional

factors were found to have independent influence on participation in a flood insurance

program (Luloff & Wilkinson, 1979). Community involvement is defined as

participation in community oriented activities (Kaufman, 1977; Wilkinson, 1991).

Individual level participation, memberships, and activity with community groups are

measures of involvement (Kasarda & Janowitz, 1974; Riger & Lavrakas, 1981; Sampson,

1988; Wilkinson, 1991; Luloff& Swanson, 1995).

A variety of factors influence community action. This review has revealed the

following factors that can motivate individuals to participate in community action: Social

attachment, ideological attachment, collective incentive, social support, community

concern and humanitarian duties. Additional research about motivations for action

suggests that the most significant predictors are social interaction, community

attachment, and self-efficacy.

Social interaction

Participation in community based organizations and groups facilitate social

interaction. Interaction between and among social groups promotes community

development and identity (Wilkinson, 1991). Knowledge of the relationships among

individuals and organizations in a community provides information for predicting the









range and/or breadth of potential community responses to local problems, both in the

long and short run (Luloff, 1990). Interaction with community members is a factor in the

literature about community action (Kaufman 1977, Wilkinson, 1991; Luloff & Swanson,

1995). Connections and interactions within the community increase communication

between community members. This provides support and consensus for solving local

problems and overcoming barriers to effective action (Simon et al., 1998).

Community attachment

Attachment transcends the simple sharing of space by local inhabitants, and

provides a social and psychological bond that serves as the basis for social interaction

(Wilkinson, 1991). Previous research suggests a linkage between community attachment

and community action because attachment influences the extent to which residents are

willing to interact and participate in community based efforts (Hummon, 1990;

Wilkinson, 1991; Theodori, 2000; Theodori & Luloff, 2000). Attachment may also affect

community action as an outcome (Wirth, 1938; Kasarda & Janowitz, 1974). Martin

(2003) emphasizes the importance of "place-framing" or neighborhood identification in

initiating community action in his study of 4 grassroots associations in St. Paul

Minnesota.

Empirical studies have examined factors related to community attachment. These

include duration of local residence (Austin & Baba 1990; Goudy, 1990; Kasarda &

Janowitz, 1974; St. John, Austin, & Baba, 1986; Theodori & Luloff, 2000); home

ownership and race (Austin & Baba, 1990); income and number of children living at

home (Riger & Lavrakas, 1981); age and level of education (Riger & Lavrakas, 1981;

Stinner et al., 1990; Theodori & Luloff, 2000); social interactions (Theodori & Luloff,









2000); and marital status, presence of children, children's ages, and religious status

(Stinner et al., 1990).

Relevant research about individual's community attachment is important for

understanding participation in communal and civic activities and general mental health

(Davidson & Cotter 1989, 1991; Pretty, 1990; Pretty, Conroy, Dugay, Fowler & Williams

1996; Pretty& McCarthy, 1991; Prezza & Constantini, 1998). Individual sense of

community references a specific place or geographic identity (Pretty et al., 1996). People

are more likely to improve their local conditions and the conditions of their fellow

community members when they feel that they are a part of a community (Omoto &

Snyder, 2002). The increased resources, confidence and esteem that come from the

experience of community reinforce individuals' psychological empowerment (Corrigan,

Faber, Rashid & Leary, 1999).

Community provides a source of collective self-esteem and valued social identity

for individuals when they identify with and connect to their locality (Crocker &

Luhtanen, 1990). Community members develop increased feelings of efficacy and

accomplishment when a community is successful in organized action (Hughey et al.,

1999).

Community based volunteer associations grew out of attempts to change aspects of

the locality in a study of locally oriented volunteer activity in working with AIDS issues

(Omoto & Snyder, 2002). This is because participants lived near each other and shared

community identity characteristics such as minority status, job classification or housing

block (Omoto & Snyder, 2002). These community action structures were created,

developed and maintained to serve the purposes of community change (Omoto & Snyder,









2002; Hughey, Speer & Peterson, 1999). Identity coupled with a locality creates a sense

of community attachment.

Other research points to the powerful effects of a shared community attachment. In

a laboratory study, researchers stressed a common fate among a group of unrelated

individuals and cooperation was cultivated from of this social dilemma (Brewer &

Kramer, 1986; De Cremer & Van Vugt, 1999). Individuals begin to see that what is good

for the collective community is also good for them. Additionally, the presence of a

common feature, even if trivial, among a group of people will foster group cooperation

(Ellemers, Wilke & Van Knippenberg, 1993). The closer people feel to an issue,

category, identity or other group distinction, the more likely they are to participate in

actions to better their quality of life.

Efficacy

Bandura (1986) defines self efficacy as "People's judgments of their capabilities to

organize and execute courses of action required to attain designated types of

performances. It is concerned not with the skills one has, but with judgments of what one

can do with whatever skills one possesses."(pp. 11). Self-efficacy, the belief that one has

the capability to perform a particular behavior, is an important construct in social

psychology (Compeau & Higgins, 1995). Self-efficacy perceptions influence decisions

about what behaviors to undertake (e.g. Bandura et al., 1977; Betz & Hackett, 1981), the

effort exerted and persistence in attempting those behaviors (e.g. Barling & Beattie,

1983; Brown & Inouye, 1978), the emotional responses of the individual performing

these behaviors (e.g. Bandura et al., 1977; Stumpf et al., 1987), and the actual

performance attainments of the individual with respect to the behavior (e.g. Barling &

Beattie, 1983; Locke et al., 1984, Schunk, 1981; Wood & Bandura, 1989). The broad









application of self-efficacy across diverse domains of behavior contributes to its

popularity in contemporary motivation research (Graham & Weiner, 1996).

There are four main influences on self-efficacy. The most effective way of creating

a strong sense of efficacy is through mastery experiences (Bandura, 1994). Individuals

"gauge the effects of their actions, and their interpretations of these effects help create

their efficacy beliefs." (Pajares, 1997, pp.3). This concept relates to community

involvement. Researchers found that the best predictors for community action and

participation in a flood insurance program for low socioeconomic status residents were

previous experience in community action and previous experience handling floods

(Luloff & Wilkinson, 1979). The second way of creating efficacy is through vicarious

experience. Seeing similar people succeed by "sustained effort raises observers beliefs

that they too possess the capabilities" to succeed at the given task (Bandura, 1994, pp.72).

Verbal persuasions from others also are a source of self efficacy beliefs. They are a

weaker source of efficacy beliefs than the two former sources, but persuaders can play an

important role in the development of these beliefs (Bandura, 1994). The final source of

efficacy beliefs in Bandura's model is one's psychological state. Anxiety, stress, arousal

or fatigue can alter individual thinking and efficacy beliefs (Pajares, 1997).

Self-efficacy influences choices about which behaviors to undertake, the effort and

persistence exerted in the face of obstacles to the performance of these behaviors, and

ultimately the mastery of the behaviors (Compeau & Higgins, 1995). There are three

distinct but interrelated dimensions of self efficacy. (1) Magnitude refers to the level of

task difficulty an individual feels is attainable (2) Strength refers to the level of

conviction one has about their judgment (3) Generalizability indicates the extent to which









perceptions of self-efficacy are limited to particular situations (Compeau & Higgins,

1995).

An important factor in accomplishing change is a sense of self-efficacy, or a feeling

that something can be done (Bandura, 1989). Pratkanis and Turner examined the failure

to achieve widespread change during antinuclear activism in America (1996). The failure

was apparently due to the widespread belief that the problem was so immense, it would

be pointless to try (Pratkanis & Turner, 1996). Belief in the impact of one's actions is an

indicator of self-efficacy. However, additional research found that peace workers who

were highly active in the movement had high levels of personal and group efficacy

(Edwards & Oskamp, 1992).

Bandura identifies four major efficacy-activated psychological processes (1994).

Cognitive processes include personal goal setting, visualization of success, problem

solving, task orientation and resiliency. Individuals with a sense of efficacy "will set

challenging goals and use good analytic thinking which pays off in performance

accomplishments." (Bandura, 1994, pp. 73). Motivational processes occur when people

form beliefs about what they can do, they anticipate likely outcomes of their actions, and

plan courses of action to realize their future plans. People with a strong efficacy exert

greater effort when they do not master the task at hand. Their strong perseverance

contributes to task achievement. Affective processes include peoples coping capabilities

and how much stress, anxiety and depression they feel in threatening or difficult

situations. Perceived self-efficacy helps regulate anxiety arousal. The stronger the sense

of self-efficacy, the more courageous an individual will be in taking on taxing and

threatening activities. Selection processes influence the types of activities and









environments people choose. People may avoid tasks that they deem too advanced for

their capabilities, but they will "readily undertake challenging activities and select

situations they judge themselves capable of handling" (Bandura, 1994, pp.77).

Pajares concisely describes the effects of high self-efficacy

Self-efficacy beliefs help determine how much effort people will expend on an
activity, how long they will persevere when confronting obstacles, and how
resilient they will prove in the face of adverse situations- the higher the sense of
efficacy, the greater the effort, persistence and resilience. (1997, pp. 4).

Additionally, Pajares states that individuals with a strong sense of personal competence

and efficacy

have greater intrinsic interest in activities, set challenging goals and maintain a
strong commitment to them, heighten their efforts in the face of failure, more easily
recover their confidence after setbacks, and attribute failure to insufficient effort or
deficient knowledge and skills which they believe they are capable of acquiring."
(1997, pp.4).

I will examine the levels of self-efficacy of community members living in poor

neighborhoods. By understanding their efficacy, I can understand how this may shape

community members decisions to perform community actions in the face of poverty.

Community action stems out of one's potential or capacity to act. A further

understanding of the person's belief in their capacity to act should provide insight about

the motivations for community action.

Barriers to Action

Action episodes cannot occur without human involvement. It is important to

develop an understanding of how such actions evolve (Luloff, 1990). The political

openness of a community's democratic structure may encourage and facilitate local

participation across diverse fields of interest (Luloff, 1990). Martin and Wilkinson

uncovered the important interactive effect between socioeconomic status and









participation in a public affairs program (1984). Community members with low income

had low participatory skills and low community activity as well. These barriers

disenfranchise entire segments of a community population, who in turn become excluded

from community processes, and can adversely affect community development activities

(Martin and Wilkinson, 1985).

Isolation in rural areas poses a serious threat to the well-being of its residents

(Wilkinson, 1991). In a study of different poor neighborhoods, Figeuria-McDonough

confirmed information originally reported by the National Research Council (1993).

Poverty rates have remained fairly constant, but poverty has become increasingly

spatially concentrated (1995). She found that segregation (racial isolation, essentially) is

one of three key indicators of social disorganization strongly associated with poverty

levels over time (Figueria-McDonough, 1995). In rural areas, the principal barriers to

community interaction are deficiencies in resources for meeting needs and inadequate

social infrastructure for services (Wilkinson, 1991). Wilson and others point to the

causal role of social isolation in producing large-scale socioeconomic problems (1987,

1996; Anderson, 1999).

Luloff and Swanson discuss community participation and the barriers to activity in

their 1995 article "Community Agency and Disaffection: Enhancing Collective

Resources." They argue that the relationship between community participation, local

democratic institutions, and the degree to which citizens feel a sense of community

ownership reflects the degree to which citizens believe they are a part of the local

decision-making process. Citizens are then willing to accept and act on local decisions,

and this allows the community greater access to its human resources (Luloff & Swanson,









1995). This enhances community agency. A redistributive effect of community

development activities will likely occur when efforts are made to enfranchise those

formerly removed from the decision making process (Luloff & Swanson, 1995). Periods

of social and economic crisis can enhance the potential for community action (Ravitz,

1982). Additionally, when democracy, choice, and information are maximized, the

potential for the expression of individual and community agency is highest (Luloff &

Swanson, 1995).

Frequently, the barriers to community action arise from lack of resources to meet

needs and inadequate social infrastructure of service, associations, and channels for

collective action (Wilkinson, 1991). Rothman (1975) found that the inverse relationship

between poverty and formal networks of social interaction was due mostly to lack of

resources, reinforced by lack of experience and task orientation among the impoverished

population. Klandermans identified potential barriers to action as "perceived inefficacy

of collective action, distrust of the behavior of others, or costs of participation that are not

outweighed by benefits." (Klandermans, 1987, pp. 529). A low sense of community

action self-efficacy can be a barrier to action.

Racism, sexism, ageism, uncritical acceptance of authority, and other social

characteristics that are reproduced through agents of socialization create serious barriers

to community agency (Luloff & Swanson, 1995). The quality of life improves when the

barriers to community interaction are reduced in either rural or urban settings (Wilkinson,

1991). Culture is independent of economic and social structures, but it interacts with

these structures and therefore is of great importance in making sense of community

development processes (Luloff & Swanson, 1995).









Poverty

The poverty rate in 2003 was 12.5%, up from 12.1% in 2002 (U.S. Census, 2005).

This translates to about 35.9 million people living in poverty, up 1.3 million from 2002.

If we include the "near poor", the percentage of the population whose income is .01 to

25% more than the poverty threshold increases 4.5% or by nearly 13 million people.

These trends place increasing pressures on national and state legislators to become more

responsive to the practical problems of society (Summers, 1986)

The lives of Americans have become increasingly socially complex the 1970's due

to the loss of 10 to 15 hours per week of leisure time (Harris, 1987). Making a living

demands more time and energy and takes local citizens away from grassroots action

(Flacks, 1988).

In his book The Politics of Poverty, Donovan very clearly articulates the experience

of poverty in America.

Poverty in the United States, if it means anything, decrees that its victims shall not
participate in the diverse opportunities which the world's richest economy provides
almost as a matter of course for those millions of its citizens who are not poor. As
a social phenomenon, poverty in this country means poor schools, bad
neighborhoods, some of the worst housing in Western industrialized civilization,
poor health, and extraordinarily poor prospects for effecting any fundamental
change in the system. (1967, pp. 93-94).

In the 1960's the Lyndon Johnson administration recognized the problem and

created a "War on Poverty". One of the most important pieces of Lyndon Johnson's

administration was the creation of the Economic Opportunity Act. This legislation

established the Community Action Program (CAP) to encourage local communities to

define their own priorities in solving local problems. The act stated that agencies must be

"developed, conducted and administered with the maximum feasible participation of

residents of the areas and members of the groups being served." (Economic Opportunity









Act 1964; Adler 1994). In a testimony before Congress to encourage passage of the Act,

Attorney General Robert Kennedy explained the requirement of "maximum feasible

participation" as

The institutions which affect the poor-education, welfare, recreation, business,
labor- are huge, complex structures, operating far outside their control. They plan
programs for the poor, but not with them. Part of the sense of helplessness and
futility comes from the feeling of powerlessness to affect the operation of these
organizations.

The community action programs must basically change these organizations by
building into the program real representation for the poor. This bill calls for,
"maximum feasible participation of residents." This means the involvement of the
poor in planning and implementing programs: giving them a real voice in their
institutions. (1964).

This act, and Kennedy's comments, frames the contemporary approach to

community development.

Distress

Although poverty might seem as an easily understood concept, researchers use a

variety of methods to define poverty. Roosa and colleagues identify measures used to

study the poverty experience (2005). One is an income-based approach, like the federal

government's definition of the poverty threshold (Roosa et al., 2005). Economic distress

is economic pressure or hardship that results in psychological distress from financial

difficulties (Barrera et al., 2002). Other distress measures are hunger and food insecurity,

and social exclusion (Roosa et al, 2005).

Distress is defined as the different experiences of communities based on high

unemployment, low income, high poverty, unstable economics, population outmigration

and other socioeconomic problems (Glasmeier, Wood & Fuellhart, 2006). However,

there currently is no universally accepted measure of distress. A survey of agencies in

1995 suggested that a diverse set of agencies at the federal and state levels makes









distinctions among locations based on the severity of economic circumstances

(Fullenbaum & McNeill, 1995). In a study on community distress, researchers used three

different measures to understand the severity of this concept. They found that regardless

of the measure used, there is a core pool of long-term economically distressed counties in

the United States. (Glasmeier et al., 2006).

Crowder and South (2003) discuss the most common measures of distress. These

focus on census tract poverty rates and poverty population concentration within and

across tracts of individual cities or metropolitan areas. Other indicators of distress are

disproportionately high rates of poverty, joblessness, female-headed families, teenage

school dropout rates and welfare receipt (Rickets & Sawhill, 1988). Hughes calls these

tracts "deprivation neighborhoods" (1989). Severely distressed neighborhoods are those

tracts that have all characteristics of distressed tracts plus exceptionally high teenage

school dropout rates (Crowder & South, 2003).

Crowder and South (2003) conducted a study on the relationship between

neighborhood distress and academic achievement. They found that the detrimental

impact of neighborhood socioeconomic distress on school dropout increased significantly

over the past quarter-century. They suggest that this is a probable repercussion of the

increasing geographic concentration of urban poverty.














CHAPTER 3
METHODS

This chapter discusses the methods and procedures of the research. First I describe

my research approach and design and site selection. I then describe the methods of data

collection which include sampling, and the two stages of data collection. Lastly, the data

analysis methods are described at the end of the chapter.

Approach

Grounded theory approaches facilitate the examination of a wide range of

conceptual possibilities in community action research. In this approach, the researcher

selects participants based on an identified outcome variable and then gathers data that is

used to describe, conceptualize and relate the data through a theoretical lens to better

understand the phenomena in question. The phenomena under study in this project were

potential motivations for community action.

The wide range of concepts and relationships possible in a community action

dynamic should be understood holistically, then inductively grounded into theoretical

relationships to attain the individual-level insight required to address the research

question. This is because, "When theory is derived from data, it is more likely to

resemble the raw social reality, rather than using theory to speculate reality." (Strauss &

Corbin, 1998, pp. 24).

This epistemological approach creates a methodological coherence. This is when

the research question matches the components of the data collection methods and

methods of analysis (Morse et al., 2002). Scientific rigor is achieved through this and









other verification strategies outlined in this section in order to enhance the validity and

reliability of the data and analysis for this study (Morse et al., 2002). Case studies can be

used to obtain "the intricate details about phenomena such as feelings, thought processes,

and emotions that are difficult to extract or learn about through more conventional

research methods." (Strauss & Corbin, 1998, pp. 11). Understanding people's thoughts

and motivations behind their community actions requires this kind of data.

A multiple case study design is appropriate for this research question because I

selected the dependent variable (community activity) a priori and this design lets me

focus on cases of interest. Additionally, a case study is "an empirical inquiry that

investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context, especially when the

boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident." (Yin, 2003, pp.

13). Case studies permit researchers to include a large number of variables in order to

understand the way in which they interrelate (de Vaus, 2001). A qualitative approach

frequently uses this design because it allows the inclusion of a large number of variables.

Theory building case studies, as defined by de Vaus (2001), are used to help

develop and refine the relationships that exist within a case and create a theory that

articulates the observed social phenomena. This is where we begin with a basic inquiry,

look at real cases and then establish a more specific set of propositions after data

collection and analysis (de Vaus, 2001). In this case, the researcher will ground the data

to relevant, empirically tested community science theory.

Yin (1989) distinguishes the difference between holistic and embedded units of

analysis. There is no holistic unit in this study; the comprehensive context is a

community in a mid-sized southeast University city. This level of abstraction permits me









to gather a variety of information in order to fully understand and describe the

community as a whole. The units of analysis are the individual residents who live in the

community. Individual residents provide the data based on their interactions within the

community. These cases are then compiled to create a comprehensive perspective of the

community. The selection of units provides a strong foundation for the case study design

because as described earlier, people and their interactions are the core elements of

community.

Site Selection

The most important need for a successful case study is to find cases that will

provide a valid and challenging test of theory (de Vaus, 2001). The community for the

study was selected for a variety of reasons including a history of community action in the

context of poverty.

Context of Poverty

The community meets all of the qualifications of a community plagued by

persistent poverty. Community action increases social and material well-being. It is

therefore important to understand how these actions occur in poor neighborhoods to

address the needs of residents.

A study conducted by CACI Marketing Systems in 2000, as well as ESRI Business

Solution in 2004 provided a comprehensive sociodemographic analysis of the county in

order to restructure and focus the county's strategic plan. This yielded valuable

descriptive information about the population of the study and articulated the level of

poverty in some parts of the county. The area under study has the lowest per capital

income of the county at $12,512 and a median household income of $26,241 which is









72.6% of the state's median income. The geographic area for the study was identified by

local government zoning and planning maps as a community redevelopment area.

Of the adult population of 10,523, 31.7% of individuals and 29.2% of families live

below the poverty level (Census Bureau, 2000). Forty-four percent of children (age 0-

17), 26.6% of adults (18-64) and 16.4% of senior citizens live in poverty in the area.

The population has a relatively high concentration of African-American residents

(77%). Twenty-one percent are white, .2% are Asian-Pacific Islander, and 2% are other

races. Nearly half the population is between 25 and 64 years of age. Thirty-seven

percent of all families are female headed families (FHF). Fifty-nine% of all FHF live in

poverty and 73.5% of these families have children under the age of five. The area also

has the highest percentage of people without a high school diploma in the county, 30%,

well above the national percentage at 19.6% (Census Bureau, 2000).

History of Community Action

The fact that they community is poor does not fully justify its relevance to the

study. Preliminary research and experience in the locality under study uncovered

important community action history. Community organization and activity at the

grassroots level has increased in this community over the past quarter century. The

subsequent increased attention to this area from the rest of the city might be due to the

residents taking initiative, becoming aware of what is going on, and expressing the

situation and needs of the community to the city and county commission.

One of the most striking examples of community action is the increasing number of

neighborhood crime watch groups and community associations within the past ten years;

indicating the manifestation of community activity. Within the area there are seven









identified active neighborhood associations/crime watch groups represented in this study.

There are about 20 formal and informal neighborhood organizations.

Methods

The research occurred in a two-stage process. The first stage consisted of

interviews with community key informants. The second stage was personal interviews

with the leaders of the 15-20 existing neighborhood watch organizations identified in the

locality.

Key informants can play a crucial role in providing detailed information about

actions and events across a community (Bridgeland & Sofranko, 1975; Clark, 1968;

Claude et al., 2000; Krannich & Humphrey, 1986). If selected carefully, key informants

provide insight into community processes that are not available from other sources

(Schwartz, Bridger & Hyman, 2001). Key informants such as elected officials, planners,

business leaders, community organizers, non-profit agency representatives, neighborhood

representatives and religious leaders are essential to gather the community wide

information needed to fully explain the context of this community (Schwartz, Bridger &

Hyman, 2001).

The accessible population of key informants was people living or working in the

community under study who are knowledgeable of, or involved in, local grassroots

community development efforts. The sampling frame included leaders or representatives

of the local neighborhood groups, as well as people from various institutions and

programs that work directly with the community under study. The names of key

informants were obtained through public lists from the local police department and the

community resource center at the University. Some key informants were identified

through snowball sampling wherein key informants were asked at the end of their









interview if they could recommend any other people in the community who could

provide information.

Sampling

Based on the information and understanding of the community gained from stage

one, one of the prominent themes which recurred in the data was that the best asset or

resource in the community was its people, more specifically, the leaders of community

groups. I decided to focus on the motivations to community action of only active

members in the community so that the research focus could be the important resources of

local leaders. The most important group of local leaders is the organizers of the

grassroots neighborhood watch and community associations, the sampling frame for the

second stage. Many of the key informants pointed to the neighborhood watch and

community association leaders as the most important leaders in the community. They

associated these leaders with community activity and community development. Key

informant data helped to select neighborhood watch leaders as the sample for stage two.

Stage 1: Key informant interviews for questionnaire development

I completed 15-20 key informant interviews over a two-month period for the first

phase of research. The information collected from key informants provided context and

insight into the community, the holistic unit of analysis, and also served to tailor the tone,

content and personalization of the semi-structured interview questionnaire that utilized in

the second phase of data collection. Some examples of what key informants were asked

during this procedure are:

* How important do you feel that the participation of local individuals is to
community development efforts?
* What is likely to happen to the local quality of life during the next five years?
* What programs or policies have been implemented in the past five to ten years to
improve the quality of life in your community?









The full interview protocol is in appendix A. General probes (i.e. "tell me more

about that") and specific probes such as "why do you think these problems exist," were

used to obtain the depth needed to more fully explore the research questions.

These interviews helped clarify language, history, culture and common phrases in

the community, increasing the reliability of the instrument used in stage two. The

response patterns that emerged from these interviews led to a better understanding of

important topics in the community and served to guide the development of the items

included in the interview used in the second stage of the data collection process.

Stage 2: Local leaders of neighborhood watch organizations

This stage of data collection consisted of 15-20 focused interviews with the leaders

of the neighborhood watch organizations in the community. Focused interviews suit a

case study design. The goal of case studies is to understand a phenomena in its real life

context, which can be done through interviews since the primary focus is, "to generate

data which gives an authentic insight into peoples experiences" (Miller & Glassner, 1997,

pp. 126). Researchers use "qualitative interviewing because it provides us with a means

for exploring the points of view of our research subjects, while granting these points of

view the culturally honored status of reality" (Miller & Glassner, 1997, pp. 127).

Process

I first contacted participants with a letter describing the purpose of the research

project. I made a follow-up phone call to each potential participant to set up interviews at

their residences or in public establishments such as the downtown library or community

centers.

I conducted personal interviews, which lasted from 30-100 minutes at a location

identified by the subject. Semi-standardized interviews use a number of predetermined









questions and identified topics (Berg, 2004). The interview style was conversational, but

followed a specific set of questions based on the key informant interviews from the case

study protocol (Yin, 2003). I typically asked these questions in the same order, but

"interviewers are allowed freedom to digress; that is, the interviewers are permitted (in

fact, expected) to probe far beyond the answers" to the prepared questions (Berg, 2004,

pp. 81). I wanted to allow for the free flow of information and description of the

participant's experience using an open response format, but also ask specific

demographic information making the design semi-standardized.

The protocol for stage two used some of the questions from the key informant

protocol, and new questions were developed to address the nature and scope of the

motivations to grassroots community action. I developed questions from a multistage

development process as recommended by Berg (2004). First I created a list of concepts

and theoretical frameworks from the community action literature that I wanted to

empirically test. I developed several questions for each concept. An expert panel

reviewed the draft questions to develop the final questions. The questions and their

corresponding theory are available in Appendix B. I put the questions in order through

discussion with the expert panel and assembled them into the schedule in Appendix A.

The theoretical basis for each question probes into the concepts under examination as

predictors of and motivations to community action.

An additional theory was used to develop the semi-structured questionnaire for the

second stage to focus more closely on predictors and motivations for action. An

ecological framework of citizen participation relates participation to the physical,

economic and social environmental contexts as predictors for participation in grassroots









community organizing (Perkins et al., 1996). (Complete protocol of stage 2 can be found

in Appendix A).

Precision is an important standard for research. The questions used in this study

did not provide highly precise data, but they provided detailed understanding of the

dependent variable. Interviewing is useful for investigators who are interested in

understanding people's perceptions to learn how people come to attach certain meanings

to phenomena or events (Taylor & Bogdan, 1998, pp. 98). Open response questions in a

semi-structured schedule in a personal interview venue was the best method for

understanding peoples reasoning and logic behind the concepts, and therefore precision

was not a priority in this study.

The principal investigator was the only person conducting interviews in order to

increase reliability. The principal investigator advised the participants concerning

consent to participation at the start of the interview. The investigator answered any

questions before the participants signed the statement of consent. Interviews were

recorded and transcribed verbatim to allow for an in-depth analysis.

Data Analysis

The data analysis consists of content analysis of the verbatim interview scripts

(Travis et al., 2000). This allowed me to make valid inferences from the semi-structured

interview data (Weber, 1990). This is a technique for systematically describing the form

and content of written or spoken material and is frequently used to codify the responses

to open-ended questions (Weber, 1990). Strauss and Corbin divide data into four levels of

abstraction starting with codes, the basic cues taken verbatim from the data (1998).

Codes are placed into categories, and then placed in themes which compose the larger

central phenomenon under study (Strauss & Corbin, 1998). The central phenomenon is









community action for this study. Throughout the process the researcher relates the

themes and categories to one another and the central phenomenon.

Data analysis also used the comparative technique of constant comparison, or

systematic comparison. This technique compares phenomena in the data with other

experiences, concepts from the literature or in the data to suggest categories, properties

and propositional statements about the subject under inquiry (Glaser& Strauss, 1995;

Strauss & Corbin, 1998). This process helps the analyst understand the phenomena

through its properties and dimensions in order to see how this concept emerges from the

data in varying conditions (Strauss & Corbin, 1998). The constant comparison method

helps to create close connections between the data and theory in an inductive process

because the analyst is forced to consider the scope of diversity in the data (Glaser &

Strauss, 1995). Glaser and Strauss delineate four stages of the constant comparison

method; (1) comparing incidents applicable to each category, (2) integrating categories

and their properties, (3) delimiting the theory, and (4) writing the theory (1995).

Pyett describes the role of the researcher in the analysis process as follows

The researcher's task is not to distinguish between reliable and unreliable
informants but to apply sociological theory, together with additional historical and
contextual information, to develop an understanding that reaches beyond the
perspective of the participants. The theoretical insights that the researcher brings to
the interpretation should be not only of academic interest but also, he or she hopes,
ultimately of benefit to the participants or their community. (2003, pp. 1173).

Following this type of analysis philosophy, I allowed the concepts to emerge from

the interview data, and then grounded the phenomena into the theories described in the

review of literature. This yielded important information about the facilitation and

cultivation of grassroots participation in poor communities.









Data analysis was concurrent with data collection because the I transcribed and

coded data after each day of interviews. This "forms a mutual interaction between what

one knows and what one needs to know." (Morse et al., 2002, pp. 12). The iterative

process of data collection and analysis occurring at the same time is very important to

reliability and validity (Morse et al., 2002). Two other research colleagues reviewed the

data and my content analysis of codes and categories to enhance reliability (Huberman &

Miles, 1994). There were few disagreements about the content analysis and the final

analysis is described in chapter four.

The primary data analysis was conducted with the Stage 2 interview data of the

neighborhood watch group leaders. I conducted and transcribed 16 interviews. The

lengths of the transcripts ranged from three pages to eight pages (single spaced, 12 pt.

font). I went through each transcript, question by question, and following the content

analysis method, coded each datum onto an index card. I labeled the cards on the upper

right hand corner with the question number and subject number to organize the data by

question (or concept), as well as for easy reference to the original transcript for quotes

and clarification. Approximately 450 codes emerged from the data. I placed codes into

categories, and then organized categories into themes. I describe the findings through the

question number and order of the interview schedule.

The following chapters will explain and describe the data in the context of relevant

theory. This will complete the grounded theory process and enhance our understanding

of the community action phenomenon.














CHAPTER 4
RESULTS

I will describe the results and analysis in this section. Table 2 presents the results

in summary form. First, I will restate the question I asked the participants. Then I will

state the concept under investigation in the question and list the emergent themes and

categories describing the phenomena. I used codes to illustrate participants' responses. I

present the findings in the order in which I asked the questions and list the emergent

themes and categories in descending order.

Question one (1) provided data about participants' length of residence in their

neighborhoods. Mean length of residence was 35 years, the median was 38 years, the

range was seven to 55 years, and the standard deviation was 14.7 years. One

participant's length of residence was relatively short, seven years, compared to the

majority of the participants. The median may be more representative of the sample than

the mean because of this outlier.

Question two (2) asked participants how long they had been the leader of their

neighborhood watch or community association. The mean length of their leadership role

was nine years, the median was 6 years, the range was one year to 40 years and the

standard deviation was 10.4 years. Most leadership positions were one-year

commitments, but many of these participants were serving for an extended period. The

median time may also be more representative than the mean because one participant had

been involved for 40 years and was an outlier.









Question three (3) asked, "What originally inspired you to become involved with

your community work?" This question explores participants' initial motivation for

involvement. Three themes emerged, perceived needs (59%), sources of efficacy (26%),

and increasing human resources (11%). Percentages indicate the proportion of codes for

each question that fall under each category and theme and not the percentage of

participants.

Perceived needs included three categories of initial motivation to action; problems

in the neighborhood, need for local leadership, and meeting general needs in the

neighborhood. Problems in the neighborhood comprised over one quarter of the results,

26%. Problems included drugs, crime, dilapidated housing, and safety concerns. Under

meeting general needs, 23%, initial motivations were items such as, "I wanted to address

needs," and "the old neighborhood was going down." In general, participants expressed

their desires to meet the great needs that exist in their neighborhoods. The need for local

leadership, 12%, emerged through items such as addressing the bad reputation of the

area, the need for a community spokesperson, low neighborhood participation, and a

desire for more government participation.

Sources of efficacy contained two categories. The first was previous experience,

and the second was psychological state. Under previous experience, 12%, participants

mentioned concepts like "I've always been involved," "I was socialized from my

parents," and "you can see immediate change when you act." They also referenced

experiences in other social movements or actions like the civil rights movement.

Psychological state, 14%, included codes for humanitarian interests and stubbornness.










Participant responses included "I have a concern for people," "I want to help out," and "It

makes me feel good to do something for other people."

Participants wanted to mobilize the human potential that they saw as stagnant in

their neighborhoods. The increasing human resources category, 11%, represented

participants desires to "motivate others," "inform others to bring change," "give people

ownership" and "rally people to the cause." They discussed a general desire to empower

other neighborhood residents to work for the betterment of the community.

Table 4.1- Analysis results of participants' responses to the question, "What inspired you
to become involved in your community work?"
Question Codes Categories Themes Phenomena
In descending order In descending
order
#3 1. Drugs, crime, 1. Problems in the Perceived needs Initial
poverty neighborhood motivation for
What inspired 2. Neighborhood 2. Need for local action
you to become representation, leadership
involved in your increased participation
community 3. Address basic needs
work? 3. Meeting general
needs

4. Always been
involved, worked in 4. Mastery experience Sources of
Civil Rights efficacy
movement
5. Humanitarian 5. Psychological state
interests, stubbornness


6. Inform others to
bring change,
motivate others to act Increase human
resources

Question four (4) asked, "How does your family feel about your leadership role in

the community?" Two categories emerged from this question: Supportive and

concerned/no interest. A majority of the responses (75%) were supportive and included

"They are supportive," "They're ok with it" and "Very proud." Concerned family









members (25%) thought participants "did too much" or were uninterested in community

action work.

Table 4.2-Analysis results of participants' responses to the question, "How does your
family feel about your leadership role in the community?"
Question Codes Categories Themes Phenomena
In descending In
order descending
order
#4 1. Supportive of me, 1. Supportive Family social
How does your O.K. with it, very proud support
family feel 2. Do too much work, 2. Concerned/no
about your not interested interest
leadership role
in the
community?

Question five (5) inquired about participants other forms of volunteer work. The

percentages for this question indicate the proportion of participants and not codes.

Nearly two-thirds, 63%, of the participants were involved in volunteer and civic

endeavors outside of their community watch work and responsibilities. They listed a

variety of organizations including churches, local schools, various public community

programs, local nonprofits, workers unions and political involvement. The remaining

third of participants, 37%, were only involved in their neighborhood work. Neighborhood

watch work consumes a great deal of time. Almost half of the participants still worked

full-time and did not have enough time and energy to devote to other endeavors.

Question six (6) asked, "When you are working as a community organizer, who

else do you count on or work with to get things done?" This question uncovered the

domains of resources participants use. Two themes emerged from the data. Resources

were accessed through participants' community environment (68%) and personal

environment (32%). These percentages indicate the proportion of codes and not

proportion of participants, in each category and theme.










More than two-thirds of the resources participants' access was in their community

environment. This theme contained three categories, government agencies, non-profit

agencies and resource-type dependent agencies. Government agencies (42%) included

entities such as codes enforcement, the local police department, public works, city

planning and the school board. Non-profit agencies (15%) included churches and a

county environmental preservation organization. Resource-type dependent agencies

(12%) developed from such responses as "whoever has the resources we need to get it

done," "depends on the project" and "whoever is accountable." Participants' personal

environment contained two categories of human resources, neighbors crime watch

members and family. Neighbors and crime watch leaders were one quarter, 24%, of the

responses and family members were 7%.

Table 4.3- Analysis results of participants' responses to the question, "When you are
working as a community organizer, who else do you count on or work with to
get things done?"
Question Codes Categories Themes Phenomena
In descending order In
descending
order
#6 1. Codes 1. Government Community Domains of
When you are enforcement, local agencies environment resources
working as a police department,
community public works
organizer, who 2. Churches, 2. Non-profit agencies
else do you environmental
count on or groups
work with to get 3. Whoever has the 3. Resource-type
things done? resources, depends dependent agencies
on the project
4. Neighbors/crime Personal
watch members environment
5. Family

Question seven (7) asked, "What are some of the things you've had to overcome to

get things done in your community?" Three prominent barriers emerged from this data

with six categories overall. The most prominent barrier, which composed one-third of the










responses, was apathy, 33%. This category included items such as lack of participation,

people "don't want to change," complacency, and the fact that they have "Been trying to

do so long, nobody care." Another important perceived barrier to action was the

bureaucracy of government agencies composing one-quarter, 25%, of the responses.

Participants mentioned concepts like the length of time required for the bureaucratic

change process, slow communication and "not knowing where the buck stops" to make a

request to get something done. One-fifth of the responses were concerned with the lack of

resources (19%). This describes both a lack of financial resources, such as grants and

subsidies, as well as a lack of human resources in the form of participation and levels of

activity.

Table 4.4- Analysis results of participants' responses to the question, "What are some of
the things you've had to overcome to get things done in your community?"
Question Codes Categories Themes Phenomena
In descending order In
descending
order
#7 1. People don't want 1. Apathy Barriers
What are some to change, lazy, don't
of the things care
you've had to 2. Slow 2. Bureaucracy of
overcome to get communication, not government resources
things done in knowing where the
your buck stops, red tape
community? 3. Financial resources, 3. Lack of resources
human resources
4. Historical neglect 4. Bad perception
5. Antiquated attitudes 5. Racial barriers
6. People only help 6. Reactive
when something participation
happens

Bad perception of the locality and the historic neglect of this locality by the

government and the rest of the community were barriers (11%). These attitudes

developed over time and are slowly decreasing, but still impose detrimental effects.










Perceived racial (6%) barriers and reactive participation (6%), or activity initiated solely

by a negative event in the community, were the last two barriers identified.

Question eight (8) asked participants, "On a scale from one to ten, one being the

lowest and ten being the best, how much do you feel that you have the resources needed

to get things done?" The mean was 4, the median was 4, the mode was 5, the range was

from 1 to 7 and the standard deviation was 2.0.

Table 4.5-Bar graph of participants' resource level scores and the number of participants
who identified with each resource level

3
Number of
participants 2.5
who 2
identified
with each 1.5
resource 1
level
0.5
0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Resource level score


Participants also provided justification for the relatively low scores on their ratings

of resource-level. Low government resources (55%) was the largest factor in their low

scores. This category, capturing more than half of the responses, included items like low

funding, not enough grants, and the government not making the poorer neighborhoods a

priority. A complimentary explanation of the low resources is the low access to

resources (27%). This refers to events when resources are only found when something

adverse happens, when people are not aware of available resources, or when participants

cannot mobilize the human resources in their neighborhood through participation in local

action. Additionally, one participant mentioned the importance of knowing and

contacting the right people to coordinate necessary resources.










Table 4.6- Analysis results of participants' responses to the question, "On a scale of one
to ten, one being the lowest and ten being the best, how much do you feel like
you have the resources you need to get things done?"
Question Codes Categories Themes Phenomena
In descending In
order descending
order
#8 1. Low funding, not 1. Low government Perceived low
On a scale of 1- enough grants, poor resources resources
10, one being neighborhoods not a
the lowest and priority
ten being the
best, how much 2. Not knowing 2. Low access to
do you feel like about resources, resources
you have the other residents will
resources you not participate,
need to get resources are only
things done? found when
something bad
happens


Question nine (9) was a two-part question about participants' perceived level of

self-efficacy. First, participants were asked, "How much of an impact do you feel you

work in the community makes?" They were asked to choose from an ordinal scale with

the options of(1) a lot of impact, (2) some impact, (3) a little impact or, (4) no impact.

Almost two-thirds of the participants (63%) thought that their work had a lot of impact in

the community. Fifteen percent said that their work had some impact and 23% said that

their work had a little impact. No participants felt that their work had no impact at all.

Secondly, participants were asked to give three examples of times where they felt

that they had made the impact they previously described. The events that illustrated these

impacts were composed of two themes, mastery experience and verbal persuasion.

Mastery experience was the prominent predictor of participants self-efficacy

containing 86% of the responses for this question. Three categories emerged under this

theme, reported in decreasing order. More than one-third of these mastery experiences,

38%, were expressed through the various tangible physical changes in the neighborhood.










These were improvements to the neighborhood infrastructure, such as removing

condemned housing, building more sidewalks and streetlights, attaining new playground

equipment, and increased police patrol. For individual and incremental changes (24%),

participants discussed various examples of individuals in the neighborhood who have

benefited from community efforts. Participants stated that, "The impact is big on an

individual level." In the third category, seen overall change, 19%, participants talked

about how they have seen the neighborhood improve over time, and that "We took care

of problems so, I know we've made a difference." The second theme, verbal persuasion

(14%), included things such as "people tell me" and "talking to old students." No

categories emerged from this theme.

Table 4.7-Analysis results of participants' responses to the question, "How much of an
impact do you feel your work in the community makes?"
Question Codes Categories Themes Phenomena
In descending order In
descending
order
#9 1. Getting rid of 1. Tangible physical Mastery Self-efficacy
How much of an condemned changes Experience
impact do you feel housing, new
your work in the sidewalks,
community playground
makes? equipment 2. Individual/
2. Individual incremental changes
anecdotes

3. I know we've 3. Seen overall
made a difference, change
seen change
happen
Verbal
4. People tell me Persuasion
we've made a
difference

Question ten (10) asked, "What keeps you energized to keep working in your

community when times are hard or others don't participate or help?" The central

phenomena I examined through this question were the effects of self-efficacy and the









factors that helped participants maintain their motivation for action. Three themes

emerged, motivational, cognitive and affective. The first theme, motivational (61%),

included three categories, described in descending order. Humanitarian motivations,

40%, played a significant role and included concepts like the love of the people and love

of the area. Participants said that, "It's fulfilling when people are mobilized" and cited a

"desire for the betterment of others." Reciprocity motivations, 11%, were motivations

that come from another person who helped the participant in the past, or having a role

model and ideas such as, "When you have, you give." The last category, responsibility,

10%, is illustrated in the following quote. "If I don't do it, it ain't gonna get there." The

essence that there was work to be done and someone has to do it created the participants'

perceived sense of responsibility as a motivational factor.

The second theme, cognitive factors, 24%, contained only codes which described

participants' stubbornness and perseverance in the face of obstacles. Nearly one quarter

of the answers referenced these concepts and many responses were stubbornness and

perseverance verbatim. Their responses also included items such as, "I don't accept no,"

"I don't give up," and having an "unforeseeable drive." From the third theme, affective

factors, 16%, two categories emerged. Optimism (8%) represents the potential

participants see for the future of their neighborhood. The last category for affective

factors was belief in God (5%) and one outlying code for guilt.










Table 4.8- Analysis results of participants' responses to the question, "What keeps you
energized to keep working in your community when times are hard or others
don't participate or help?"

Question Codes Categories Themes Phenomena
In descending In descending
order order
#10 1. Love of people, 1. Humanitarian Motivational Self-efficacy
What keeps you love of area motivations
energized to keep 2. Role model, 2. Reciprocity
working in your someone gave to
community when me in the past
times are hard or 3. If I don't do it, 3. Responsibility Cognitive
others don't it won't get done
participate or
help? 4. I don't accept 4. Stubbornness/
no, I won't give up perseverance

5. See future 5. Optimism Affective
potential, it may
get there 6. Belief in god



Question eleven (11) was a two-part question. The first part asked, "How

responsible do you feel for the quality of life in your community? How responsible do

you feel for being a leader?" Four answer categories emerged from this question and

answers were split evenly over the categories. Percentages for this question represent the

proportion of participants who identified with each category and not the proportion of

codes for each category. Participants said they felt either (a) responsible for the

community (25%), (b) not responsible (19%), (c) responsible for myself(19%), or (d) I

don't know (25%).

The second part of question eleven sought an explanation for their answer and

asked, "Why do you feel responsible?" The data was divided into two themes, personal

influences and environmental influences. Many categories emerged from this data

because the levels of felt responsibility were evenly distributed. Percentages indicate

proportion of codes for each category and theme. Personal influences was the most










prominent theme, 69%, and categories will be listed in descending order. In desire of

positive outcomes, 29%, respondents said things like, "I want the community to look

nice," "I want to see change," and "I will do whatever I can to make things better." Self-

efficacy beliefs, 14%, were items such as, "I have so much to offer," "He who has much,

much is required" and "people look up to me." Commitment to their neighborhood as

home (9%), participants' upbringing (9%) and the feeling that everyone is responsible

(9%) were the last three categories in the personal influences theme. Pride and the

empowerment of others were two codes that did not fall into a designated category under

the theme of personal influences.

One quarter of the data fit under the environmental influences theme, 26%. Two

categories emerged. Physical environment, 17%, includes items that express the need in

the neighborhood locality. Interpersonal environment, 9%, represents the support of

other people or leaders in the neighborhood.

Table 4.9-Analysis results of participants' responses to the question, "Why do you feel
responsible for the quality of life in your community?"
Question Codes Categories Themes Phenomena
In descending In descending
order order
#11 1. I want to the 1. Desire of Personal Perceived level
Why do you community look nice positive outcomes Influences of
feel responsible 2. I have so much to 2. Self-efficacy responsibility
for the quality offer, people look up beliefs
of life in your to me
community? 3. I live here 3. Home
4. Brought up this 4. Upbringing
way 5. Everyone is
5. Everyone is responsible
responsible

6. The neighborhood 6. Physical Environmental
needs it environment Influences
7. People support my 7. Interpersonal
actions environment









Question twelve (12) also had two parts. The first part asked participants, "How

much do you think that people feel like they are a part of this neighborhood?" This

question provided information for understanding the concepts and indicators of

community attachment as a motivation for community action. Four answer categories

emerged from this question. Participants identified their fellow residents' belongingness

to the neighborhood with (a) feel apart of this neighborhood (46%), (b) homeowners feel

apart of this neighborhood (9%), (c) people do not feel apart of this neighborhood

(27%), or (d) I don't know (18%). Participants perceived other residents' to be relatively

attached to their neighborhood.

The second part of question twelve asked participants, "What do you think leads

them (other residents) to feel like they belong?" This question uncovered the indicators

of community attachment. Several categories emerged that describe the reasons,

according to the participants, that people come to feel a part of the neighborhood.

Involvement/participation, 25%, was the most prominent indicator of feeling a part of the

community. Duration of residence (18%) correlated with a sense of belongingness or

attachment. Many of the resident's families had lived in the neighborhood for multiple

generations, and many were born and raised in the neighborhood and have since raised

their children and grandchildren there. Community pride, 14%, included things like

wanting the community to look nice, having a love of the area and "valuing their

community and home." Homeownership (12%) was a component of attachment.

Communication (8%) included things like knowing what is going on around the

neighborhood and community and being knowledgeable of the resources available.










When people have shared experiences (6%) together, these experiences were indicators

of their attachment to the community.

The closely related final category was having interactions, 6%, with other members

of the neighborhood. Miscellaneous codes mentioned were having self-worth, trust of

others, feeling safe, the common thread of living together and being a caring person as

reasons to feel a part of the neighborhood.

Table 4.10-Analysis results of participants' responses to the questions, "How much do
you think that people feel like they are a part of the neighborhood? What do
you think leads them to feel like they belong?"
Question Codes Categories Themes Phenomena
In descending order In descending order
#12 1. Active in 1.Involvement/partici Community
How much do community activities pation attachment
you think that 2. Lived in locality for 2. Duration of
people feel like a long time residence
they are a part 3. Want area to look 3. Community pride
of the nice, valuing the
neighborhood? community
4. Homes are 4. Homeownership
What do you investments in
think leads community
them to feel 5. Being 5. Communication
like they knowledgeable of
belong? resources, know what
is going on
6. Go through good 6. Shared
and bad times together, experiences
work on projects with
other residents
7. Talk to other 7. Interaction
residents

Question thirteen (13) asked participants, "If you could have any three things in the

world for your neighborhood, what would you wish for? Perhaps within the physical,

social and economic environment?" Three themes emerged from this data, wishes for the

social environment, physical environment and economic environment. The most

important theme was the social environmental wishes, which included more than half of

the participants' responses, 55%. The first category in this theme was participation,









21%, which referred to people participating more in community and neighborhood events

and issues, as well as people becoming empowered and taking more responsibility. The

second category was resources for the youth and elderly, 14%. These were things like

recreation programs, community centers and after-school programs. Education, 11%,

included things like vocational programs, parenting classes and improved public

education. Cultural programs, 5%, included theatre, dance and more African-American

cultural activities. A stronger faith base and more family time were two outlying codes

for this theme.

Four categories emerged under physical environmental wishes, 39%. The

categories are listed in descending order. Beautification of the neighborhood, 16%,

included things like picking up trash, planting flowers and having nicer yards.

Infrastructure improvements, 9%, included items such as speed humps, street lighting and

informational signs. Safety (7%) from crime and drugs and environmental protection

(7%) were also wishes for the physical environment.

The economic environment (7%) was the least important theme. People wished for

more money for improvements and more local business. Two miscellaneous codes were

political leadership and preservation of older homes.











Table 4.11-Analysis results for participants' responses to the question, "If you could have
any three things in the world, what would you wish for and why?"
Question Codes Categories Themes Phenomena
In descending order In descending
order


#13
If you could
have any three
things in the
world, what
would you wish
for your
community?


1.Neighborhood
participation
2. Community
centers, after-school
programs, home visits
3. Vocational
programs, improved
public education
4. Dance, theatre,
African-American
cultural programs
5. Pick up trash, plant
flowers, paint over
graffiti
6. Protection from
crime and drugs
7. Create more
sidewalks, streetlights,
speed humps

8. Money for
improvements, more
local business


1. Participation


2. Resources for youth
and elderly

3. Education


4. Cultural programs


5. Beautification


6. Safety

7. Infrastructure
improvements


Social environment











Physical
environment


Economic
environment


Community
ecology














CHAPTER 5
DISCUSSION

The goal of this study was to understand the factors that motivate people to act at

the grassroots level in the context of poor communities. Action is a vital component of

community development. Social scientists, extension professionals and other community

practitioners need to know what can be done to foster community action in order to

enhance local quality of life and well-being (Luloff & Swanson, 1995). Another research

goal was to explore the barriers that prevent people from taking local action. This

chapter will connect the results from the participant interviews to relevant concepts and

theoretical framework, and complete the grounded theory process.

This study was placed in the context of poor, distressed neighborhoods. However,

economic disadvantage did not emerge in the data as a factor of community action.

Participants may be in a more fortunate economic situation than other neighborhood

residents and are not necessarily living in poverty, but living in a neighborhood where

poverty rates are high. Since poverty or distress have never prevented the participant's

from being active, it would not emerge in their response as a factor for community action.

Additionally, Klandermans (2002) discusses the importance of individual

identification with a group or cause as a motivation for grassroots action. Identifying

yourself as a member of an active group of poor residents may not produce uplifting or

motivational attitudes. Therefore, participants would not associate being poor with their

motivations for being active or involved in the neighborhood association.









Participants discussed problems such as speed humps, playground equipment,

streetlights, crime and drug dealing as community needs or concerns. Concerns about

decaying infrastructure and other related problems are probably indicators of distress.

This is because these problems may represent the different experiences of communities

that have high unemployment, low income, high poverty, unstable economics, and other

socioeconomic problems (Glasmeier, Wood & Fuellhart, 2006). Distress and a concern

for the community's needs may therefore be predictors of community action. However, I

found no clear connection between poverty and community action in this research.

Self-efficacy

The participants are highly efficacious individuals. I found that they have a high

sense of self-efficacy, and consequently possess the adaptive benefits of self-efficacy.

This is a principal motivator for grassroots community action. The concept of self-

efficacy is useful for understanding motivations to community action and for interpreting

the findings of this study. According to Bandura's theory, every individual has an

internal system which allows them to, "exercise a measure of control of their thoughts,

feelings, motivation and actions." Efficacy is defined as

people's beliefs about their capabilities to produce designated levels of
performance that exercise influence over events that affect their lives. Self-efficacy
beliefs determine how people feel, think, motivate themselves and behave.
(Bandura, 1994, pp. 1)

Efficacy plays an important role in the explanation of these data. Self-efficacy is a

task-specific characteristic. When I refer to self-efficacy in this discussion, it is in

reference to participants' community action self-efficacy. Three questions were designed

to directly test this theory. I propose a model to fit all of the study's concepts

dynamically and collectively.









Question nine yielded very important evidence about participants' self-efficacy.

Individuals gauge the effects of their actions, and their interpretations of these effects

help create their efficacy beliefs (Pajares, 1997). All of the participants were aware of

the impact of their work. Nearly two-thirds, 63%, felt that their work had a lot of impact,

the highest rating possible on the scalar response. The participants are aware of their

capabilities as grassroots community leaders because of the high rates of perceived

success. Outcomes interpreted as successful raise self-efficacy and contribute to high

participant self-efficacy (Bandura, 1994).

The emergent themes from the second part of the question, mastery experience and

verbal persuasion, were the justifications for participants' evaluation of the impacts they

have. These results also support the self-efficacy model. Bandura identifies mastery

experience as one of the four sources of efficacy, and as the most effective way of

building self-efficacy (1994). The data support this model because 86% of the answers

fit into the mastery experience theme. "I think I feel like most of the time it's just that I

can look back and see a lot of things we have accomplished. The things that stand out I

guess are the GED classes we have, the computer classes we have." This was how one

participant described one of their impactful events. Participants' past experiences with

community work, including seeing projects come to fruition, accomplishing change in

their neighborhoods, and actions reaching back to the civil rights movement, are primary

sources of their beliefs.

The following quote captures the model well, "I certainly feel like I made an

impact because if I didn't, I wouldn't be here spinnin' my wheels for such a long time."

Accomplishing tasks along the way and the development in participants' communities










provides the endurance to pursue development of community (Wilkinson, 1991,

Summers, 1986).

We will see later that efficacy also appears to be a source of enduring and

perseverant motivation for community action. Additionally, verbal persuasions are one

of the four sources of efficacy established by Bandura (1994), and this also emerged from

the data.


Sources of Self-efficacy and
Community Attachment


Self-efficacy
Activated
Processes


Figure 5.1: Sources of Community action self-efficacy as predictors for community
action









Question three also substantiated participants' high self-efficacy. Participants

described what had initially motivated them to become involved in community crime

watch work. Perceived neighborhood needs were an important predictor for action,

corroborating research findings that community concern motivates residents to act

(Omoto & Snyder, 2002). These include all neighborhood problems that were either

recognized by the participants, or recognized and discussed with other neighborhood

residents. People behave and act purposively in response to their interactions and the

impressions they draw from their connections with others (Brennan, 2005). Such

conditions contribute to action (Wilkinson, 1991). Participants heard concurring attitudes

regarding the needs of the neighborhood through interactions with other residents. These

interactions then enforce the perception of these needs. Additionally, participants'

mastery experience in solving problems allows them to see neighborhood needs more

clearly.











Sources of Self-efficacy and
Community Attachment


Self- efficacy
Activated Processes


Community
Action


Figure 5.2: Interaction, percieved needs and mastery experience work together as sources
of self-efficacy and as predictors for community action

Participants cited two other categories as motivations to initial action in the

neighborhood watch, previous experience and psychological state. These categories fit

Bandura's model of self-efficacy (1994). Some of the participants' previous experience

dated back. For example

Well, when civil rights in the 1950's, I was very much involved with that. I went
up to the second march in Alabama. We did picketing here, I was arrested in two
or three places right here in Florida. We did sit ins and all stuff. I was the first









black who got a card to the library here. I was the first black who integrated the
United Way board. I was the first black to join the democratic club at the time.

Such intense and powerful experiences afforded the participants a solid foundation

of self-efficacy. People learn that they are a powerful and capable agent of change when

they have seen the effect and impact their individual actions can make. Previous

experience was the strongest source of efficacy in this study, in accordance with

Bandura's model.

Humanitarianism was the primary component of psychological state. There may be

an interesting feedback loop that cyclically motivates individuals to act. People receive

positive messages from individuals when they participate in a positive action. The

positive message lets the participants know that what they were doing was successful and

is valued by others. This social support influences their psychological state because

participants feel better about themselves knowing that their actions have a positive effect

on others. Participants continue to be motivated to act in order to maintain that positive

feeling. Participants' awareness of their positive effect on people builds self-efficacy.











Sources of Self-efficacy and
Community Attachment


Self-efficacy
Activated
Processes


Community
Action


Figure 5.3: Feedback loop between mastery experience, social support, psychological
state and self-efficacy

Some participants expressed a desire to empower and enable other residents to act

as their motivation for initial action. They wanted to mobilize the untapped human

resources available in the neighborhood. One of the barriers participants faced was the

lack of participation from other residents. Social reformers, like the participants, can see

the long and intermediate-term benefits of mobilizing human potential (Bandura, 1994).

Participants' motivation to mobilize the local human resource potential may also









motivate them to overcome the barrier of low participation. This motivation in the face of

apathy is one of the benefits of high self-efficacy.

Question 10 was similar in nature to question three. It asked participants what kept

them energized to do their work, especially in the face of the many barriers they cited.

The themes that emerged from this question, motivational processes, affective processes

and cognitive processes match three of Bandura's four major efficacy-activated

psychological processes (1994).

Humanitarianism is a psychological motivation for community action. One

participant described the motivation as

What keeps me energized is the need, and knowing that whenever someone is
being helped its quite rewarding to be able to assist them when they are in need.
That's the thing that energizes you.

These finding concur with those of Omoto and Snyder's (2002) because people

participate in action to express humanitarian interests. The rewarding feeling of helping a

fellow resident provides more social support and feedback to one's motivational

processes.

Participants directly expressed their innate stubbornness and unyielding strength to

accomplish tasks in their community no matter what the obstacle. This was an indicator

of participants perseverance and resiliency in their community action work, and therefore

to their self-efficacy. Perseverance and resiliency are the most common indicators of the

efficacy activated cognitive and motivational processes (Bandura, 1994). One would not

be willing to give up on accomplishing a task if they have a strong belief in their

capabilities to accomplish that task. "Oh, I don't like for folks to tell me no. I don't

accept no. I just immediately think of a way to get around the no because I do always

think there's a way." Self-efficacy beliefs determine how much effort people expend and









how long and in what ways they will persevere in the face of obstacles (Bandura, 1994).

These neighborhood watch leaders knew that their community's needs were valid and

reasonable. Additionally, they felt that if they weren't the individuals initiating the

process, the solutions would never come to pass. One participant talked about her

resiliency in dealing with government bureaucracy

Sometimes just getting frustrated with the red tape and going to one agency and
saying, no, not this agency. And how 'bout you? Not you, who then? So just
going through that sometime frustrate people and people just give up, but I don't
care. I stay on the phone until you say fine. I'm persistent. You know they say the
old squeaky wheel gets the oil. I'm one of those people that I will worry you until
they say ok. Sometimes you gotta just be there and just keep doing it until
somebody says alright.

Three or four participants used the same "squeaky wheel" metaphor, demonstrating

their shared characteristics of perseverance and self-efficacy. Also, a few participants

talked about how a role model had inspired them to keep going in the face of obstacles.

The vicarious experiences of leaders from participants' pasts served as a source of

efficacy, as indicated by their strong perseverance.

The third theme and component to Bandura's efficacy activated processes were the

affective processes. Participant's optimistic views and their beliefs in God helped to

develop their coping capabilities in the face of barriers (Bandura, 1994). Their optimism

shows that they see the potential that can be realized in their community through

continued action, and this fuels the vision they have for their neighborhood. "When I look

around me and I see that need, and maybe for a while longer something might click."

The adaptive benefits of affective processes help reduce stress and anxiety, allowing

participants' motivation to remain relatively high (Bandura, 1994).











Sources of Self-efficacy and
Community Attachment


Self-efficacy
Activated
Processes


Cognitive

Motivational

Affective

Selective


Figure 5.4: Self-efficacy creates four self-efficacy activated processes as predictors for
community action

Community Attachment

Attachment to community emerged as a significant motivation for action. People

are more likely to improve their local conditions and the conditions of their fellow

community members when they feel like they are a part of a community (Omoto &

Snyder 2002). Question two provided information about participants' attachment to their

neighborhood. The median for years of leadership was 6, showing participants'









commitment to their leadership role in their neighborhood associations. The leadership

position in most cases is a one-year commitment, but I found that (a) no one else was

willing to step up to the role and/or (b) residents were pleased with the work that was

being done in many of the cases. Many participants were so strongly attached to the

purpose and mission of the neighborhood watch groups that they had little to no desire to

relinquish their leadership responsibilities. One participant said, "This is what I want to

do, this is what I am. Not gonna give up."

Question twelve examined the role of community attachment in motivating

grassroots action. Duration of residence was a primary indicator of community

attachment or belongingness, which corroborates previous findings. Previous studies

have found that length of residence correlates strongly to community attachment (Austin

and Baba 1990; Brown 1993; Goudy 1990; Kasarda and Janowitz 1974; St. John, Austin,

and Baba 1986; Theodori and Luloff 2000). A median residence period of 38 years is a

long time by any standards, a strong testament to the high level of community attachment

among participants, which in turn led to a high investment of time and energy in their

neighborhoods. When this participant was asked what made her feel connected to the

community she said, "Question one; [I've lived here for] Forty-nine years. My father

was raised there, I was raised there, my aunt still lives there, my grandmother lives there.

I mean, it's home."

Several other categories that emerged under this theme corroborate the literature

about attachment and community action. Homeownership was the third most important

indicator of community attachment. Austin and Baba also found that homeownership was









a predictor for community action (1990). The psychological difference between renting

and owning a home can affect one's motivation to act.

I think that homeowners feel so much a part. We have a lot of rental property in
our area and sometimes folk may not care that much about rental property, it's not
the same. Renting and owning are just two different things to most people. I'm not
saying that all people aren't taking care if they're renting. But homeownership
gives a sense of pride and a sense of worth, and when they own that home they
want to take care of it and get involved and feel a part in the neighborhood so we
have a lot of that going on.

The investment in a home can motivate residents to engage in activities that

enhance and protect their investment. "The pride of ownership, the learning that goes

into maintaining property, and the sense that a variety of basic problems have been

solved are all empowering to community residents." (Rubin & Rubin, 2001, pp. 79). One

participant said, "It's like people have an investment there in terms of their lives and

that's why when something comes up, [drug dealing], they feel like hey, this is mine, you

don't have a right to come in here." Pride in ownership, can build esteem and efficacy in

residents' community action efforts.

It was kind of like we had to deal with [drugs] 'cause we basically, its not [wealthy
area of town] folks! And you get that feeling like well, you've got to put up with
that stuff. And finally it was like, you know, no, we don't have to put up with that
stuff. Just because we're not living in five hundred thousand dollar homes doesn't
mean we have to live with drug dealers next door. And you know, I think people
have seen that they do have a voice in that and they can make something happen.

Community pride was another category under the attachment theme. Residents

stated that people feel a sense of belongingness when they take pride and care about their

neighborhood. One participant describes this as a source of motivation: "You have to

have pride and feel a part of something in order to keep things neat and in place. You

have to feel a part of it." This creates a valued social identity for individuals as they

identify with and connect to their locality (Crocker & Luhtanen, 1990; Turner, Hogg,









Oakes, Reicher & Wetherell, 1987). People will voluntarily participate or join when they

feel a social identification with a group or cause (Klandermans 2002). This behavior is

an indication of their strong identification. A sense of pride and belongingness is an

indicator of attachment, and a predictor for action.

The last component that emerged as an indicator of community attachment was

having common experiences. One participant described this sense of camaraderie vividly

In think when they see each other. Feel each other's concerns. When they are with
each other through trials and tribulations. When they are with each other through
death, through births, through hard times. When they know that somebody is
watching out for them. When they can just stand in their yards and talk and share a
moment that is common to them. When they feel safe enough to feel a part, to
move around. When they're asked, and when they're listened to. When they speak
up and when we follow through.

Here, the link between sharing common experiences and length of residence is

present. Both are significant indicators of attachment.

These common experiences may also be memorable interactions and

communications between residents, both of which appeared as indicators of community

attachment. Attachment influences the extent to which residents are willing to interact

and engage in activities together (Hummon, 1990; Brown, 1991; Fischer, 1991;

Wilkinson, 1991; Theodori, 2000; Theodori and Luloff, 2000). Interaction and common

experiences breed communication. Connections and interactions within the community

increase communication between community members providing support and consensus

for solving local problems and overcoming barriers to effective action (Simon et al.,

1998; Simon et al., 2002). These basic interactions are the building blocks of community

(Wilkinson, 1991). The data show that these concepts are indicators of community

attachment, and are most likely not mutually exclusive. Common experiences,

communication, and interaction may all have dynamic interactions with each other. I did










not examine these interactions well enough in this study to make a prediction about the

strength and direction of these relationships.

Sources of Self-efficacy and Self-efficacy
Community Attachment Activated
Processes
SPsychological
State
Social support

__ --Verbal
Interaction Persuasions Cognitive

Motivational

Affective Community
Res urces Community Action
-- action Selective
Self-efficacy
Perceived needs I --



T Mastery Experience
with grassroots
community action



Community Attachment



Length of Communityr Homeownership



Experiences Communication




Figure 5.5: Sources of community attachment as predictors for community action

The last category that emerged as an indicator of attachment is an interesting

finding of this study. The data suggests that involvement and participation in community

activities lead residents to feel they are a part of the neighborhood. How can

participation be an indicator for community attachment if community attachment is a

motivation for participation in community action? A cyclical relationship my be present









between participation in community activities and attachment. Participation generates

positive feelings of attachment. This leads residents to continually participate in order to

maintain those positive feelings, creating a positive feedback loop. The participants

exhibit behaviors that indicate the presence of this feedback loop (high attachment) in

their motivational processes.

When participants have had a positive mastery experience in community activities,

that experience confirms participant's beliefs in their attachment because it acts in a

feedback loop. Mastery experience is the most important source of self-efficacy beliefs

(Bandura, 1994). Previous experience in community action raises participants' self-

efficacy. This experience generates the efficacy activated selection processes by

influencing the types of activities and environments in which participants choose to act

(Bandura, 1994). Participants will select environments they judge themselves capable of

handling. By selecting to participate in more community activities based on previous

experience, participants further cultivate their interest (or attachment) in their

neighborhood, as well as the social networks that surround them (Bandura, 1994).

Therefore, participation in community action increases self-efficacy, which then

increases community attachment. In sum, attachment previous experience and self-

efficacy are inter-related. A feedback relationship exists between participation and

community attachment.










Sources of Self-efficacy and
Community Attachment


Self-efficacy Activated
Processes


Figure 5.6: Feedback loop between mastery experience, self-efficacy, efficacy-activated
processes and community attachment

Community Ecology

Question thirteen examined the ecological framework of citizen participation. This

relates participation to the physical, economic and social environments as predictors for

participation in grassroots community organizing (Perkins et al., 1996). The data support

the model. Participants identified "wishes" for neighborhood improvements. Most of

these existed within the social environment, physical environment, and a small









percentage discussed improvements for the economic environment. It was expected that

economic improvements would emerge as a larger theme because of the poor

socioeconomic context of this study. Participants may possess positive adaptive

perceptions about their neighborhood. Living in a poor area has not prevented them from

being active, so they would not need economic improvements to make their

neighborhood perception better.

Over half of the "wishes" for participants' neighborhoods were social in nature,

mostly that other residents would participate in community action. Social reformers

strongly believe that they can mobilize the collective effort needed to bring about social

change (Bandura, 1994). It therefore makes sense that the largest category for this

question was participant desire for increased levels of participation. Participants also

wanted to empower others to act in their community. Personal and social changes rely

extensively on methods of empowerment (Bandura, 1988). Vasoo (1991) contends that

over the long run, grassroots mobilization and citizen participation should encourage

people to become more self reliant in social and economic activities and participate more

in neighborhood and community activities. Various governments use this mechanism to

encourage local residents to take an active interest as volunteers (Vasoo, 1991). Many

local problems which cannot be solved without the cooperation of grassroots leaders and

the capacity of its residents (Vasoo, 1991). Participants were not involved in these

endeavors to accomplish everything on their own. Many of them suggested that they

were merely a "catalyst" for action by informing participants of what resources were

available and wanted their residents to be independent so they knew how to act on their

own. One participant ingeniously described this process









A lot of times I think education and educating people to what's out there, and what
they can do is something that gives them- that empowers them. It's like if I know
abut the guy in the codes office, I know the guy, I've met him. I've sat down next
to him at meetings, I know what he looks like so if I have a problem, I don't mind
picking up the phone and saying, 'Walter, here's what the problem is and if you
don't know the answer, who might? Who can I call'. So ... again, education is the
key for me because if I know how this thing is supposed to work then if I have a
problem, I don't feel intimidated about calling.

Education can be a powerful tool in motivating others to act. It empowers residents

by informing them of the resources they can use to make a difference, and likely build

their community action self-efficacy. Studies indicate that methods of empowerment

operate through the self-efficacy mechanism (Bandura, 1986). Education and awareness

of community resources emerge as a source of self-efficacy. I will continue this

discussion later in the chapter.

It was interesting that beautification and infrastructure improvements were the

largest categories under the physical environment theme. These improvements are both

very tangible effects of change: It provides comfort, satisfaction and a sense of

accomplishment to local residents because they can actually see the difference they made.

Tangible change also emerged as an indicator of participants' self-efficacy. The visibility

of change is very important for participants' belief in the process of community change,

as a testament to their actions and as reminders of their previous experiences. Tangible

reminders are helpful in times of frustration and fatigue because there has to be a reason

to keep "spinnin' your wheels".

Social Support

High social support appears to be an important contributor to community action

motivation. Three-quarters of the families of participants were supported their

participation. This finding corroborates Vasoo's study, which suggested that high social









support conditions act as an incentive or motivator to grassroots action (1991). This is

important for the sustainability of community action tasks. According to ecological

theory, one's family is their most immediate and intimate social environment, followed

by their neighborhood, and community (Bronfenbrenner, 1986). Six of the participants

mentioned that their spouses were also involved in community activities. Approval by

people who are important to the participant make it easy for them to devote their time and

energy to their community work. This is because social support can eliminate potential

barriers to action like guilt from not spending more time with family. Social supporters

therefore contribute to participants' belief in the purpose of their community tasks, as

well as their abilities to accomplish them.

However, lack of social support from an intimate partner was the cause of one

participant's divorce. During the interview, this participant was describing the support

she currently receives from her family, and then said, "That's one of the reasons how

come I don't have a husband today. He didn't like my going out bit and I knew back then

it wasn't gonna work and you know it was time for him to hit the door." This participant

has high attachment and devotion to her work in the community which allowed her to

overcome negative social support.

Participants' Resources

Nearly two-thirds of the participants were active in organizations and programs

outside of their neighborhood watch work. When I asked participants about what they

were involved in, many had difficulty recalling all of the organizations and causes they

had belonged to throughout the years. Seven of the participants were retired and had

enough free time to devote to community work. The other participants worked full time

and could not afford to commit to other activities than the neighborhood watch group. I









concluded that these participants interact across diverse social fields and cultivate the

emergence of a community field, according to field theory (Wilkinson, 1991). Their

tasks and actions focused on development in their community, which theoretically lead to

the development of community (Summers, 1986). Participants can be identified as

theoretical agents of community development because of their varied interactions and

task accomplishments in their neighborhoods.

Another implication of the extensive and diversified community involvement of

participants is that their interactions lead to increased communication and networking.

Through these interactions, participants develop an understanding of what to know, and

most importantly, who to know in the community in order to get tasks accomplished.

These interactions put leaders in contact with many human, financial, infrastructural,

social and political resources, enabling them to fill the needs of their neighborhoods. The

increased resources, confidence and esteem that come from the experience of community

and community action further develops participants' psychological empowerment, in

concurrence with previous research (Corrigan, Faber, Rashid & Leary, 1999; Rogers,

Chamberlin, Ellison & Crean, 1997; Zimmerman, Israel, Schulz & Checkoway, 1992).

More resources and higher efficacy in community action can contribute to individuals'

motivation to action.

The awareness of available resources is important to discuss with respect to

participants' perceived barriers to action. The bureaucracy of government agencies was

one of the primary perceived barriers. Bureaucracy is easier to maneuver when you

know which person or office you need to contact, as well as when you personally know

the person you need to contact to get a permit, or get updates on new grants and









programs. One participant described it as, "we try to establish partnerships with some of

those [agencies] so they can be ongoing, not just for the moment, ongoing." Another

participant, who had worked in the community all her life, said that, "you need to know

how to keep your hand on the pulse with the activities and reactions, and pro and actions

and nonactions and everything else." Participation in diverse activities and interactions

increases community knowledge, and therefore increases access to resources by virtue of

awareness.

I continue the discussion about community resources using data from question six.

This concerned who the participants count on to accomplish tasks for their neighborhood,

or essentially, the accessible resources they use to accomplish these tasks. The resources

from participants' personal environment, family and fellow neighborhood watch

members, provide the positive effects of high social support as a motivation for

community action. The people in participants' personal environment exist in the same

geographic area, or locality as them. They interact with these people frequently (Luloff,

1990). Consequently, participants' personal environments facilitate positive interactions

that lead to social support and become a resource for community action, as well as a

source of community action self-efficacy.