Youth asset mapping in an urban community

Material Information

Youth asset mapping in an urban community discovering the availability of resources and opportunities for youth to build developmental assets
Woods, Holly Kathleen
Place of Publication:
Denver, Colo.
University of Colorado Denver
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
301 leaves : ; 28 cm

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Doctorate ( Doctor of Philosophy)
Degree Grantor:
University of Colorado Denver
Degree Divisions:
Department of Health and Behavioral Sciences, CU Denver
Degree Disciplines:
Health and Behavioral Sciences
Committee Chair:
Main, Deborah
Committee Members:
Easterling, Doug
Janes, Craig
Stein, Susan
Stulp, Clydette


Subjects / Keywords:
Youth -- Services for ( lcsh )
Social surveys ( lcsh )
Evaluation research (Social action programs) ( lcsh )
Action research -- Case studies ( lcsh )
Human services -- Research ( lcsh )
Action research ( fast )
Evaluation research (Social action programs) ( fast )
Human services -- Research ( fast )
Social surveys ( fast )
Youth -- Services for ( fast )
Case studies. ( fast )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
Case studies ( fast )


Includes bibliographical references (leaves 251-301).
General Note:
Department of Health and Behavioral Sciences
Statement of Responsibility:
by Holly Kathleen Woods.

Record Information

Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
|Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
45117723 ( OCLC )
LD1190.L566 2000d .W66 ( lcc )

Full Text
Holly Kathleen Woods
B.A., University of Texas, 1982
B.S., University of Texas, 1984
M.S.P.H., University of Colorado, 1992
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Health & Behavioral Sciences

This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy
degree by
Holly KathleenWoods

This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy
degree by
Hplly KarhleenWoods
has been approved

Woods, Holly Kathleen (Ph.D., Health and Behavioral Sciences)
Youth Asset Mapping in an Urban Community: Discovering The Availability Of
Resources And Opportunities For Youth To Build Developmental Assets:
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Deborah Main
This project involved youth in Participatory Action Research (PAR) to
discover resources for promoting youth developmental assets. Youth Asset
Mapping (YAM) trained youth to be participant researchers, engaging them in
research design, sample selection, data collection, coding and interpretation.
The primary aims for this study were to: 1) Describe the feasibility of
engaging youth in a participatory research project to discover where and how youth
build developmental assets; 2) Describe the kinds of data the youth were able to
collect; and 3) Describe the benefits to the youth participating in the YAM project.
Youth Mappers collected and coded survey data and the investigator
performed the analysis. Interview data were used to examine potential explanatory
themes underlying the quantitative data. Mappers collected data from 92 of their
peers. All data gathered was mapped according to residential geocode.
Implementation of YAM was challenged by recruitment and attrition of
Mappers and respondents, integration of the project into existing community
structures, and the required use of a consent form. Mappers reported gaining skills,
knowledge and changes in perceived community roles. Additional training and
organizational support may have assisted the Mappers in recruitment and in data

Surveyed youth reported their primary resources for asset building were
family, friends and schools, with fewer reporting other formal organizations. Some
resources were proximate (parents and siblings), with other frequently-reported
resources being further away (extended family, faith organizations, school). Most
resources reported were within proximate distance to home. Report of resources
also varied within residential geocode and by gender. The small sample size (N=54)
and the geographically non-representative sample may have biased the responses.
Mappers interviews revealed themes useful for understanding how youth
development occurs.
Youth would benefit from community and institutional support to take
advantage of existing opportunities, formal and informal, and families could profit
from assistance in creating asset-building relationships. Youth should also be a
central player in the reconstruction of these opportunities.
The YAM project provided insight into youth PAR and resources for youth.
Recommendations are made for modifying this kind of project, and for creating
opportunities for and with youth to build developmental assets.
This abstract accurately represents the cont
recommend its publication.
tes thesis. I
Deborah Main, Ph.D.

I would like to express profound thanks to my Committee members, who
have each offered support and assistance at various times throughout the
development and conduct of this project. Not only did they provide technical
support but advice and encouragement at times when completion seemed difficult. I
would especially like to thank Deborah Main for the time and insight she offered me
in creating a manageable project, and for her support as a colleague and friend.
I would like to thank Search Institute and The Colorado Trust for their
support of this project as a part of the research efforts for the Assets for Colorado
Youth (ACY) Initiative. Assistance and review by both Assets for Colorado Youth
and Search Institute staff and funding from the ACY research component supported
the development and implementation of the project.
I would also like to thank my family and friends for their support of my
graduate school endeavors. My daughters Lindsey and Laurel have been my
inspiration and reason to be committed to this work.

1. Introduction..........................................................1
1.1 Research Aims and Problem Statement..................................1
1.1.1 Specific Aims......................................................1
1.1.2 Problem Statement..................................................2
1.2 Role of Youth in our Community and Society........................12
1.2.1 Perceptions of Youth..............................................12
1.2.2 Youth as Partners in Community....................................15
1.3 What Kids Need: Building Blocks for Their (Our) Future..............23
1.3.1 The Support Assets................................................25
1.3.2 The Empowerment Assets............................................30
1.3.3 Boundaries and Expectations.......................................35
1.3.4 Constructive Use of Time..........................................39
1.3.5 Commitment to Learning............................................42
1.3.6 Positive Values...................................................45
1.3.7 Social Competencies...............................................48
1.3.8 Positive Identity.................................................52
1.3.9 Summary of Developmental Assets...................................54
1.4 Role of Community in Promoting Health...............................55
1.4.1 Concepts of Community.............................................56
1.4.2 Community Initiatives to Promote Health and Well-being............90
1.4.3 Summary of the Role of Community..................................94
1.5 Summary of Problem Statement and Significant Literature.............94
2. Research Aims, Design and Methods....................................96
2.1 Research Aims.......................................................96
2.2 Research Design....................................................97
2.3 Methods of Inquiry and Analysis....................................99

2.3.1 Study Site.........................................................99
2.3.2 Recruiting and Training Youth for Youth Asset Mapping.............99
2.4 Research Methods...................................................103
2.5 Sample Size........................................................108
2.6 Timeframe..........................................................108
3. Results..............................................................110
3.1 Feasibility of Implementing Youth Asset Mapping.....................110
3.1.1 Logistics of the YAM project......................................Ill
3.1.2 Effectiveness of Youth Asset Mapping Training.....................119
3.1.3 Assessment of the Team Meetings...................................126
3.2 Kinds of Data Youth Collected in the YAM Project...................135
3.2.1 Survey Data.......................................................135
3.2.2 Interview Data....................................................157
3.3 Youth Benefits from the YAM Project.................................165
3.3.1 Increased skill level.............................................165
3.3.2 Community learning................................................167
3.3.3 Perceived role and identity.......................................170
3.3.4 Summary of Results about Youth Benefits...........................171
3.4. Summary of Results.................................................171
4. Discussion, Limitations, Recommendations, Next Steps.................173
4.1 Discussion..........................................................173
4.1.1 Discussion Related to Research Aim One............................173
4.1.2 Discussion Related to Research Aim Two............................180
4.1.3 Discussion Related to Research Aim Three..........................192
4.2 Limitations........................................................198
4.3 Recommendations and Next Steps.....................................200
4.3.1 Recommendations for this Project..................................200
4.3.2 Next Steps in Inquiry.............................................206
4.3.3 Conclusions.......................................................208

A: Search Institutes 40 Asset Framework...................................211
B: Youth Asset Mapping Recruitment Materials................................213
C: Outline and Objectives for YAM Training.................................220
D: Decision-Making Matrix...................................................223
E: Written Evaluation of Youth Asset Mapping...............................232
F: Endpoint Interview Guide for Mappers.....................................237
G: Survey Instrument Used by Mappers........................................239
H: Defined Geocode Boundaries...............................................244
I: Interview Script and Instrument..........................................246

3.1 Percent of All Resources Reported by Resource Categories 137
3.2 Percent Youth who Report Having Resource Category 139
3.3 Number of Youth who Listed Resource One or More Times 140
3.4 Resources Reported by Youth within Geographic Quintiles 142
3.5 Percent Resources Reported as Being in Same Geocode and/or 145
Quintile as Home Location
3.6 Percent Youth Reporting Having Resource Type as Compared to 147
Percent of Resource Type Reported in Home Quintiles
3.7 Percent Resources Reported in Same Geographic Location as 149
Home Location
3.8 Mean Number of Resources per Person based on Quintile of 150
Home Location
3.9 Mean Number of Resource per Person based on Geocode of 151
Home Location
3.10 Likelihood of Reporting Resource Category by Gender 154

2.1 Research Aims, Data Collection Methods, Methods of Analysis
3.1 Demographics of Youth Asset Mapping Training Participants
3.2 Demographics of Survey Respondents
3.3 Ratio and Percent of Likeness of Respondent Characteristic to
Characteristic of Mapper
3.4 Resources Reported within Same Quintile as Home Location

1. Introduction
1.1 Research Aims and Problem Statement
1.1.1 Specific Aims
The primary goal of this project was to describe the feasibility of involving
youth in an innovative Participatory Action Research method, called Youth Asset
Mapping. The purpose of Youth Asset Mapping (YAM) was to learn about where
and how youth gain access to local resources and opportunities for building
developmental assets. This project occurred in the city of Colorado Springs.
This research project was an exploratory naturalistic study about the
appropriateness of involving youth in learning among their peers. It was also
designed to learn about the utility of a Training to provide youth with skills and
knowledge to choose and implement research methods and to describe the effects of
the experience on the youth. Through the youth-collected data and field notes
related to their experiences, this study was designed to learn where and how youth
developmental assets were gained.
The aims of this exploratory Youth Asset Mapping effort were considered
the first stage of learning in order to form later hypotheses. The primary aims for
this research endeavor were:
1. Describe the feasibility of engaging youth in a participatory research
project to learn about opportunities for their peers to build
developmental assets. Describe how a Youth Asset Mapping Training and
follow-up Team Meetings provided youth with the skills and knowledge to
participate in the research effort.
2. Describe the kinds of data the youth were able to collect. Describe how
youth were able to collect data from their peers about where, how, and by whom
opportunities for asset building existed.

3. Describe the benefits to the youth participating in the YAM project.
Describe how the youth benefited from the process in terms of their change in
skills, perceived role in the community, and learnings about their neighborhood
and community.
The intent of this project was to engage youth in an assessment of the
positive resources available to them and their peers, rather than engage them in a
scrutiny of the negative factors that most data would indicate prevail among the
youth population. It was useful, however, to examine the factors that suggested
there was cause for alarm about our nations children.
1.1.2 Problem Statement The Critical Social Moment for Resolving Issues
Related to Children and Youth
American children and youth face an ever-increasing array of social
problems, in complex environments that offer few solutions, which their parents
cannot fathom. Colorados children fare no better than the nation, and given the
strong economic status, one would assume that Colorados children would have
better statistics. However, the social and health problems confronting our children
and youth are worsening at an alarming pace.
Between 1985 and 1995, children and youth faced major physical and sexual
abuse (Mickish & Hinish, 1995; Tapp & Hinish, 1994), with rates of child neglect
worsening by almost 100% (Shulman, 1997). As well, lethal violence more than
doubled in the same time period for adolescent males, and adolescents voiced
increased concerns for safety (Elliot, 1994; Gallagher & Drisko, 1996; National
Center for Health Statistics, 1991; Sells & Blum, 1996) (Shulman, 1997). Other
major social issues included substance abuse and its related threats (Johnston,
O'Malley, & Bachman, 1995; Johnston, O'Malley, & Bachman, 1994), earlier sexual
activity and associated STDs and teen pregnancy (Gallagher & Drisko, 1994), and

increased isolation and fear for the future of children (Department of Family
Medicine, 1995).
In 1997, increased numbers of children lived in poverty and in households
headed by unmarried women, who were more likely to be poor (Shulman, 1997).
Children who were poor were more likely to suffer from health problems, die from
birth defects, fires, accidental injuries, disease, and all causes combined. They were
also more likely to live in neighborhoods with inferior schools, higher crime, and
greater exposure to toxic chemicals and pollution, and less likely to be immunized,
develop the cognitive skills necessary to succeed, and graduate from high school
(Shulman, 1997).
Since 1990, Colorado has had the second-highest population growth in the
nation, with 450,000 more people residing here in 1995 than 1990. Along with that
increase, school enrollment grew 11% during that time period and teacher
employment increased by only 7% (Shulman, 1997). Colorado has one of the 10
highest teacher-to-pupil ratios in the nation. With an increased proportion of
children who are poor, homeless and requiring special education services, there are
additional educational demands on schools. Despite Colorado being on the cutting
edge of school reform, the increased high school dropout rate (1995 figures indicate
23% of Colorado students dropout) (Shulman, 1997) demonstrates the difficulty of
preparing children for the future. Youth face increasing social and cultural norms to
participate in violence, substance use and abuse, divorce, consumerism and
The results of a recent public opinion survey reflect a growing concern about
the decline in moral values generally in society, which are passed along to children,
(Farkas, Johnson, Duffert, & Bers, 1997). Fifty-one percent of respondents to the
Public Agenda survey believed that this decline in moral values was the chief reason
for the problems facing society today, and resulted in teens negative behavior.
Most respondents also believed that these rude, irresponsible and wild youth
resulted from parents who failed to provide discipline, break up marriages too easily,
spoil their children, have children before they are ready to care for them, and were
almost willfully oblivious parents (Farkas et al., 1997). Parents and teens noted a

lack of respect for each other, in society in general and for the institutions serving
them (Department of Family Medicine, 1995; Search Institute, 1996).
These criticisms coexisted with viewpoints about the difficulties and
challenges of being a parent in todays society. In the Public Agenda poll, four in
five Americans agreed that it is much harder for parents to do their job these
days, and half of those surveyed said that parents who sacrifice and work hard
for their kids are very common (Farkas et al., 1997.) As well, parents felt isolated
in their attempts to raise children, they face(d) times when they really need(ed)
help raising their kids and didnt have access to other parents who were facing
similar issues (Gallagher & Drisko, 1996); Farkas et al., 1997). Some parents
believed that many community institutions had legal authority to interfere in difficult
family situations (Gallagher & Drisko, 1996). This lack of positive, reinforcing
social networks that promoted positive social norms, skills, and concern for the
welfare of the child (Cochran, Lamer, Riley, Gunnarsson, & Henderson, 1990)
obviously has hampered children and adolescents in developing normative social,
personal and worklife roles.
It is hard to imagine many other points in our history when children, youth
and families have been in such jeopardy. While the problems seem entrenched,
conceptually they can be viewed from another paradigm in order to harness
societys energy for building on resources rather than defeating deficits. Youth
themselves also have an important role to play in the recreation of societies that can
provide important opportunities for their development. The Flip Side of the Coin: Right Side Up
In the last decade, a growing ideological movement has surfaced that uses
positive rather than deficit-oriented approaches for understanding youth and
communities. Several frameworks that led to this movement provide a positive lens
through which a community can recognize its resources and work with families and
teens in their social environments. One of these frameworks has been the Asset-
Building Community Development approach developed and advocated by
McKnight and Kretzman at Northwestern University (McKnight, 1990). This

approach has highlighted the implicit resources available at a neighborhood level that
can increase the capacity of its residents. Another framework has been that
developed and used by Search Institute and communities around the country called
Developmental Assets. The framework of 40 Developmental Assets (see Appendix
A) (Benson, 1994) has been used to train adults and youth about what youth need to
succeed, and has been based upon 30 years of research conducted by child and
youth development and social scientists around the world. Another framework
sponsored by Hawkins and Catalano (Hawkins, 1992) is called Communities that
Care. Communities that Care has highlighted the research about what makes youth
resilient to substance abuse, and worked with communities to establish programs
that utilize some of these principles.
In the vein of collecting positively-oriented data rather than negative, surveys
conducted by Search Institute on 99,462 sixth through twelfth graders from 213
U.S. cities and towns during 1996-97 report on the number of assets or positive
aspects of a students life. Of these 40 assets reported in a binary fashion for this
aggregate sample, the students reported having a mean number of 18.0 assets
(Benson, Leffert, Scales, & Blyth, 1998; Benson, Scales, Leffert, & Roehlkepartain,
1999.) Comparing grades 6 through 12, the mean number of assets decreased from
21.5 in grade 6 to 17.2 in grade 12. Boys averaged three assets fewer than girls
(16.5 and 19.5, respectively). Typically, fewer youth reported affirmatively for the
assets over the developmental period from 6th -12th grades, particularly between 6th
and 8th grades. More girls tended to report affirmatively for many categories as
compared to boys, other than the self-identity category of assets (in which more
boys typically responded positively.) While some of these differences may have
been related to developmental phases, is it also likely there were contextual
differences in the environment and in gender expectations that led to some of these
differences among age groups and gender.
The encouraging aspect of these data, apart from the fact that youth were
indeed gaining some of what they need to succeed, was the relationship between
presence of assets and a decreased reporting of risk-taking behaviors and increased
reporting of thriving behaviors (Benson et al., 1998; Benson et al, 1999.) These
trends were seen across family composition, grade, gender, and race/ethnicity as

reported in the student survey. A complete description of this aggregate sample can
be found in an article by Leffert et al (Leffert et al., 1998) and in the book Fragile
Foundation (Benson et al, 1999.)
Although these analyses were only correlational and tell us little about causal
relationships, further analyses demonstrated the significant variation in reporting of
many of the assets by grade and gender (Leffert et al., 1998). For instance, in the
Caring Neighborhood asset, a notable effect from regression analyses was found for
6-8th and 9-12th grade females; 47% of 6th-8th grade females reported that they
had Caring Neighborhoods, compared to 37% of 9th-12th grade females. Similar
gender and grade effects were found for Interpersonal Competence (59% of females
and 28% of males in 6th-8th grades reported behaviors consistent with Interpersonal
Competence and 61% of females and 25% of males in 9th-12th grades) and Safety
(more males reported feeling safe at home, school and in their neighborhoods at
both points in time, but females reports of safety were greater in later adolescence)
(Leffert et al., 1998). Further detailed analyses in this paper described the predictive
validity of particular assets for risk-taking behaviors and also the cumulative effect
of assets on particular risk-taking behaviors. These data suggest that measuring and
focusing on the positive aspects in the lives of youth are useful for two reasons, a) to
understand the complexity of developmental experiences and resources needed to
promote healthy youth, and b) to promote the multiple and varying roles of
individuals, organizations and sectors, both informal and formal, in providing these
experiences and resources.
Forming this foundation is the work of all the communitys residents and
insitutions. They are the ones who support, encourage, motivate, guide,
and empower young people through thousands of individual and group
acts of caring and commitment. They are the ones who build relationships
day by day that show children and adolescents they are known, valued,
listened to, and connected.
(Benson, 1997, p.2)
It would be useful to understand the dynamic nature of youth development
in order to grasp how assets are provided or built among youth. Youth develop

within their environments through different developmental pathways while
simultaneously enhancing their environments. Children and Youth Embedded in Communities
and Contexts
11 The reality is that the vast majority of Americas adolescents, including
many of those who experience ... problems at some time during
adolescence, make a successful transition from childhood to adulthood.
However, they do not accomplish this without assistance from families,
societal institutions, communities, and friends. These aspects of the
environment provide adolescents with the guidance, structure, experiences,
and encouragement necessary to foster positive outcomes during
adolescence and adulthood.
(Family and Youth Services Bureau & CSR Inc., 1997, p.l)
Human development has been thought to occur through the changing
reciprocal and dynamic relations between the individual (i.e., psychological,
biological, intellectual, personality, and temperamental characteristics) and the
multiple contexts within which they live (i.e., other persons, groups, culture,
community, and society) (Bronfenbrenner, 1977; Family and Youth Services Bureau
& CSR Inc., 1997; Lemer, 1995; Williams, Guerra, & Elliott, 1997). Lemer pointed
out that it has been this dynamic interaction of the individual with her/his
environment, which he termed developmental contextualism, that was the basis
for understanding human evolution and the link between biological and social
functioning (Lemer, 1995). The reciprocal and simultaneous influences of the
individual and her/his environmental contexts (Family and Youth Services Bureau &
CSR Inc., 1997) were reflections of conceptual thinking from developmental science
(Cairns & Cairns, 1994), developmental contextualism (Lemer, 1995), and
developmental co-constructionism (Piaget, 1971; Tudge, Putnam, & Valsiner, 1996).

From these perspectives, youth development has been understood as having the
following characteristics (Family and Youth Services Bureau & CSR Inc., 1997):
individuals, in interactions with their environment, constructed meaning such that
internal and external aspects are enmeshed (Tudge et al., 1996);
neither person nor environment (environment including people) variables were
the primary basis or cause of an individuals development. Rather, the person
and the environment simultaneously influenced one another (Lemer, 1995);
individuals experienced contexts differently based on their preexisting sets of
experiences, and therefore constructed different meanings from interactions than
others who may have had similar contexts and interactions (Tudge et al., 1996).
Thus, the response of one individual to an interaction would have been different
than anothers response to the same interaction.
Thus, implicit in the notions of youth development were expectations that
youth would require different experiences, opportunities and resources to fulfill the
distinctive requirements needed to accomplishment their personal pathway to
successful outcomes. The concept of developmental pathways also emphasized
assumptions about transitions from childhood to adulthood being a process
incorporating past and present, pathways were not predetermined by any individual
or environmental characteristics, and pathways could take many forms (Cairns &
Cairns, 1994; Family and Youth Services Bureau & CSR Inc., 1997). It was also
assumed that positive developmental pathways were nurtured when adolescents had
developed the following:
a sense of industry and competency;
a feeling of connectedness to others and to society;
a belief in their control over their fate in life; and
a stable identity (Family and Youth Services Bureau & CSR Inc., 1997).
Also implicit in these interactive and dynamic notions of youth development
was an understanding that individual and contextual factors affected developmental
pathways. Individual factors included biophysical characteristics (i.e., biological,
neurological, and physiological), temperament (i.e, mood, activity levels, excitability),
the experience of puberty (i.e., perceptions and expectations affecting adjustment),
gender (e.g., affecting relationships, expectations, competency, connectedness), and

cognitive development (i.e., shifting from concrete to formal-logical thought
processes) (Family and Youth Services Bureau & CSR Inc., 1997).
The effect of particular social/ecological contexts was described as varying
in importance depending upon the stage of life course development (Williams et al.,
1997). Williams et al. described that during adolescence, ecological contexts that
were most important included family, friends and in later adolescence included
intimate partners/ family and society/community. Contexts that were of secondary
importance included neighborhood, school and in later adolescence society/
community and work. Others noted that schools (Carnegie Council on Adolescent
Development, 1995; Lord, Eccles, & McCarthy, 1994; Wigfield & Eccles, 1994)
were critical contexts in which childrens needs for adult support and guidance
potentially could be met. Others also reported that youth-serving organizations and
institutions were critical places in which relationships with adults and other youth
were developed, parental values could be endorsed, and a sense of connectedness to
community and society could be created (Larson, 1994; Winfield, 1995). These
primary supports (Wynn, 1997) should focus on providing developmental
opportunities for all children and draw early attention to needs and problems,
complementing other formal institutions in real-world problem-solving, decision-
making, and performance.
Families have been perceived as the most influential context for adolescent
development. Parent child relationships (Cooper, Grotevant, & Condon, 1983;
Youniss & Smollar, 1985) and the balance between connectedness, enmeshment,
and disengagement have been reported as critical for successful individuation,
formation of peer groups, successful academic performance, and social acceptance
(Family and Youth Services Bureau & CSR Inc., 1997). Parenting styles
(monitoring and discipline in a consistent and caring manner) were reported as
important in preventing delinquent behavior (Family and Youth Services Bureau &
CSR Inc., 1997). Family process, rather than structure, may be the critical factor in
single-parent or divorced families (Barber & Lyons, 1994).
Peer groups and friendships were reported as becoming increasingly
important in adolescence, primarily because of the decreasing connections between
adolescents and their families during the individuation period. Peers may not direct

adolescents to new behaviors as much as they reinforce existing dispositions, which
predicted the particular peer group the adolescent chose in the first place (Brown,
Mounts, Lambom, & Steinberg, 1993; Steinberg, Darling, & Fletcher, 1995). And
while peer groups were often associated with deviant behavior, the development of
positive and enduring friendships was also an important factor in promoting positive
development among youth in high-risk environments (Cairns & Cairns, 1994). The
reciprocal nature of peer friendships suggested that youth imposed normative
behavior on the relationship, positive or maladaptive, that may be difficult to change
without seeking new peer groups (Family and Youth Services Bureau & CSR Inc.,
The community and social context in which youth have become embedded
has considerable influence on the types and quality of interactions children will
experience in their social world and their subsequent development of a sense of
competency, connectedness, control over their fate in life, and identity (Family and
Youth Services Bureau & CSR Inc., 1997). The community culture (values
underlying the beliefs and behaviors of a group) and its synchronicity with larger
society, and the availability of sources of support in the community (e.g., friendship
networks, articulation and support of common values about children and youth,
monitoring and supervision of youth, mutual accountability among adults on behalf
of youth) (Sampson, 1992; Sampson & Groves, 1989; Werner & Smith, 1992) have
been reported as critical factors in promoting positive developmental pathways for
adolescents. In the larger social context, economic and employment conditions (e.g.,
use and development of skills, adult support, opportunity for feedback and
recognition, availability of family resources), discrimination and prejudice (resulting
in frustration, confusion, anger, lack of connectedness, hopelessness), and the
expression of common values were reported as factors that affected the adolescents
developmental pathway (Family and Youth Services Bureau & CSR Inc., 1997).
The work of many researchers contributed to an understanding of the
conditions or characteristics under which children and youth seemed to thrive. In
essence, youth who were resilient had an adult or adults who cared deeply about
them, acted as role models, connected them to positive resources and opportunities,
created a sense of hopefulness within them, and gave them irrational love

(Bronfenbrenner, 1991; McLaughlin, Irby, & Langman, 1994; Scales & Leffert,
1998). The web of influence (Price, Cioci, Penner, & Trautlein, 1993) created by
the synergy of the above noted social contexts could potentially support even the
most at risk children and youth to beat the odds.
The people who surround Americas youth make notably important
contributions to their development. However, there are large discrepancies between
what are recognized as optimal roles for individuals and institutions in society in
promoting youth development and the willingness of people to become involved in
the lives of youth. This disparity may be related to adults lack of regular
participation in volunteer groups that did charity work or community service (34%
in the Public Agenda survey), to the loss of confidence that direct involvement in the
lives of others would be comfortable, natural, and trouble-free, and to the fear of
intruding in others private lives (Farkas et al., 1997).
Some of the inattention to youth or lack of participation by adults in youths
lives may be related to Farkas (1997) description of adult negative perspectives of
children and youth. It is unknown whether this is an American phenomenon or
exists worldwide related to changing cultures. Kingsolver (Kingsolver, 1995, p. 114)
reflected on her experiences in Spain.
What I discovered in Spain was a culture that held children to be its
meringues and eclairs. My own culture, it seemed to me in retrospect,
tended to regard children as a sort of toxic-waste product: a necessary evil,
maybe, but if its not our own we dont want to see it or hear it or, God
help us, smell it.
In some cultures the social/ecological contexts provide the important
experiences, opportunities and resources that young people need to nurture positive
developmental pathways. In addition, youth may be given important roles in their
communities to participate in, learn about, and build community in ways that would
enhance their own development and provide important resources for the community.
It would be useful to understand the current role of youth in American society and
in other cultures in order to provide a foundation for the role of youth as researchers
in their community.

1.2 Role of Youth in our Community and Society
Adults perceptions and exposure to the current roles and abilities of youth
likely govern youth roles. Given this, it is possible that misconceptions of youth
and their potentialities hinder their full contribution to society. An understanding of
perceptions of youth, by adults and themselves, and recognition of the possible
talents that youth could offer, would help promote a better understanding of their
possible roles and appropriate expectations for them. Young people themselves may
be an untapped and unrecognized resource in communities through which youth
development could occur.
1.2.1 Perceptions of Youth
The Public Agenda report Kids These Days (Farkas et al., 1997)
reported that adults had harsh and critical judgments of youth. Fifty-four percent of
adults believed that teens got into trouble because they had too much time on their
hands, that teens had poor work habits (41 % of adults), and 67% of the adults
described todays young people with negative adjectives such as rude,
irresponsible, and wild. Only 12% of parents said teens were friendly and
helpful, and only 9% said youth treated people with respect. Only 37% of adults
polled believed that todays children would make the country a better place. Even
young children were described negatively (by 53% of adults.) Forty-eight percent
believed young children were spoiled, 31% said young children were out of control
in public places, and very few (12%) found it very common for children to treat
people with respect. Seventeen percent considered it usual for children to be
friendly and helpful toward their neighbors.
Despite the harsh criticism of young people in this survey, it is not just
children and youth that get terrible marks. Those surveyed suggested that careless
and neglectful parents break up marriages too easily (55%,) have children too early
before they are ready for responsibility (66%,) spoil their children (49%,) and take
on too many activities that compete with their kids for attention. Alternatively, 81%

of those surveyed responded that it is much harder to be a parent today, 37% of
adults suggested that economic and financial pressures on families create the social
ills, and half (51%) felt that parents sacrifice and work hard for their kids. Most
adults recognized that both parents now work to make ends meet rather than having
the mother at home, but few (27%) believed that affectionate, loving fathers are
common. Sixty-three percent of adults believed that most parents need help raising
their kids, and gave struggling parents of troubled teenagers the benefit of the doubt
(only 11% believed these parents were irresponsible) and were overwhelmed by
their own personal problems (40%.)
A Colorado survey of approximately 800 youth ages 11-18 and 900 adults
over age 18, conducted by Search Institute and Norwest Public Policy Research
Center (Scales, Lucero, & Halvorson, 1998a), showed some similarities and
differences in perceptions of youth and adults responsiveness to them. Most youth
(74%) felt that adults value them, care about them (90%), and that youth treat adults
with respect (54%.) Adults did not view themselves or youth quite so positively,
with 58% believing that youth are valued, 80% reporting that adults care about
youth, and 32% believing youth treat adults with respect. Youth believed they are
given lots of opportunities to make their community better (70%, compared with
78% by adults.) They also reported having safe schools and neighborhoods (91%,
compared with 79% by adults,) that they help others without pay (72%, compared to
62% by adults,) and participate in lots of activities (75%, with only 42% of adults
volunteering in some youth program.)
Youth contended that adults dont spend enough time with them (43%,
compared to 75% of adults who admit that,) and that all or most of their neighbors
know them by name (70%, compared to 39% of adults who know many names of
youth.) Only 51% of adults in the Colorado survey said that youth would make
Colorado a better place in the future (compared to 37% in the Public Agenda poll),
and 65% believed that youth are a top priority in their community. The majority of
adults (68%) believed that youth get into more trouble these days, approximately the
same percentage of adults who admitted that adults do not spend enough time with
youth (75%.) Youth agreed that they talk daily or several times/week with friends

(88%,) parents (70%,) teachers (37%,) adult relatives (24%,) neighborhood and
other adults (11%.)
Another perspective on youth was offered by the Horatio Alger
Associations State of our Nations Youth report (Horatio Alger Association,
1998) on the survey results of approximately 2000 youth nationwide. Few young
people felt safe in school (43%,) with the behavior of other students interfering in
their performance (40%.) Two-thirds gave their schools an A or a B, with
approximately the same number believing that teachers wanted them to do their best,
and having at least one teacher or administrator to talk with. Three-quarters felt it
was personally important to them that they did their best in all their classes, and the
same percent believed the harder they worked the more opportunities would be
available for them. However, only 39% reported that homework was a priority.
Only 40% reported that a role model was a family member, and more young people
reported that they could confide in their mother (69%) than their father (41%) about
personal problems. Many youth had a group of friends they hung out with (64%,)
participated in athletic teams or clubs (51%) and fewer participated in service or
volunteer groups (23%.) Of the top problems in the world today, teens noted
crime/violence (30%), decline of family, moral and social values (23%), drugs
(17%), A TPS (15%), environmental pollution/ deterioration (7%), racial tension/
discrimination (6%), poverty/ unemployment (5%), health care (3%), chemical and
biological warfare (3%) and the U.S. budget (3%) as the most important. Among
personal goals, getting along with peers or family ranked the highest (8%).
It is highly likely that adults views of young people were affected by the
sensationalized media reports about young people and the dismal status of the world
in general. In fact, adults rated other adults behavior poorly, more so than did youth
(as in the Colorado report.) Adults views were likely underestimates of the impact
that young people are having on the world and their communities through action
programs, service learning and other forms of volunteer opportunities, including
research efforts.

1.2.2 Youth as Partners in Community
Q: What would make your community a better place to grow up in?
...more access to and interaction with grown ups
...if more of the people in the nighborhood got connected instead of
staying apart"
...more opportunities for all kids"
...less drugs and more community involvement
Q: What do you do to make the towns and cities in your area better
...volunteering at festivals, tutoring, baby sitting
...clean up trash with youth groups, plant trees, visit old people
...peer counseling program, charity work, food baskets, women in
crisis volunteer
...volunteer at animal shelter
...set a good example and be a good influence for your peers,
dont litter, pick up trash, respect your elders people who most people dont pay attention to...
...neighborhood communication, voice my opinion, good citizen,
let newspaper know how I feel...
Q: What one piece of advice would you give adults about how to make
things better for young people?
...listen to us and dont stop us from making our own mistakes
...give more positive comments...
...adults should be supportive, supervise youth but dont control
...just because we are young, that doesn t mean we dont know
anything. Not all teenagers are bad kids that are
committing crimes. Look for kids out there doing good-
there are many...
...realize that we are the future, so take time to invest...
... talk to us about important matters...

...stop assuming, wondering, and hoping, and start doing
something about it!
(Scales et al., 1998a)
These statements of affirmation about the responsibility that young people
felt for their communities, their peers, and their families indicate that youth believe
that adults have underestimated their potential in American society. These
statements were gathered during the interviews described above with more than 800
Colorado youth (Scales et al., 1998a). Perhaps there was some disconnect between
adults knowing what needs to happen, and knowing how to do it, and having the
ability, will, skills or time to act upon it. The last quote above possibly reflects a
growing apathy among young people for the common lamenting and talking about
youth involvement.
Because youth have been insiders to their peer culture, they can often offer
insight and wisdom into community issues through active leadership and
participation that is unavailable through token representation or simple discussion.
Some reported that youth participation in community learning about resources may
be best conducted through shared decision-making and engagement of youth. Youth Participation Opportunities
Hart (Hart, 1992) articulated a ladder of youth participation gleaned from the
work of UNICEF and The Convention on the Rights of the child ratified by over
100 nations. He admitted that the suggested inclusion of children and youth in
community affairs may be a radical departure for most societies and threaten cultural
norms. However, he suggested that it be in the best interests of all children to have a
voice, because in order to learn...responsibilities, children need to engage in
collaborative activities with other persons including those who are older and more
experienced than themselves. It is for this reason that childrens participation in
community projects is so important. (Hart, 1992, p. 7)
Harts ladder had eight rungs, starting with 1) non-participation, in which
manipulation occurred with young people (i.e., youth had no understanding of

the issues, did not understand their action, and thus were manipulated); 2) youth
were provided with decoration (i.e., they were dressed as participants and
were present, but had little idea of the meaning of their presence; adults did not
present the cause as inspired by youth); and 3) in which tokenism occurred (i.e.,
youth were given a voice, but have little or no choice about the subject, style of
communicating, and no/ little opportunity to formulate their opinions.) Examples of
these kinds of participation included 1) manipulation: brainstorming sessions
where adults collected ideas and did not return to have youth make decisions, 2)
decoration: T-shirted children attended an event and were entertained and no claims
were made about their involvement, 3) tokenism: youth participated in a panel with
no preparation and no consultation with their peers whom they represented.
Hart described five other rungs of the ladder, in which genuine participation
of youth occured. The fourth rung was where youth were assigned but informed
(i.e., youth understood the intentions, knew who made the decisions and why, had a
meaningful role, and volunteered for the project after it was made clear to them.) An
example of the fourth rung up would be a convenient group of youth who were
assigned by adults to serve as ambassadors or liaisons for adults for a conference
that focused on youth, in which they were not asked to represent all youth but only
themselves. The fifth rung was consulted and informed (i.e., the project was
designed and run by adults, but youth understood the process and their opinions
were treated seriously). An example could be where youth were invited by adults to
serve as experts to create and critique and then make suggestions again for products
for commercial market. The sixth rung of the ladder was adult initiated, shared ,
decisions with youth (i.e., adults initiated an effort, and youth and others not
normally involved were active decision-makers in all aspects of the effort). An
example of this would have been where a community created a multi-purpose park,
and involved children and youth in the initial idea generation, presented them with
models incorporating their ideas, gathered feedback and priorities, created alternative
syntheses of these models, and then allowed all participants to make the decision.
The seventh rung up the ladder was child initiated and directed (i.e.,
children chose an effort, initiated it and carried it out by themselves). One example
was a large dam sandbank created behind a school by children, while teachers stood

by without interfering or directing. The eighth rung, or highest level of participation
one can achieve, was child initiated, shared decisions with adults in which youth
chose to act upon something and invited adults to participate. An example of this
kind of participation came from a public school in which students decided to petition
the Board of Education for a relevant sex education program, gained a favorable
response, and ultimately the school offered relevant sex education services.
While youth participation in a meaningful way involved relinquishing adult
control in exchange for partnership with youth, it also required substantial
investment in the process and product to create opportunities for success for the
youth. A fine balance between youth-initiated and led processes and adult support
and responsiveness would be important for sustaining a youth participation
initiative. Programmatic and Community-Level
Wynn (Wynn, 1997) reviewed programs that focused on promoting child
and youth development and that had potential for early attention to problems or
needs. She documented those which have been deemed well conceived and
implemented (Heath & McLaughlin, 1994). These programs typically had attributes
which invited and retained young people, including: group endeavors focused on
youth initiative, focused on activities and issues of importance, had high
expectations, included group problem-solving, provided concrete products and
performances, had prospects for advancement and expanded opportunities, and had
adults who act as caregivers, catalysts and coaches, providing continuity, sustained
support and flexible responsiveness (Meier, 1995; Schorr & Schorr, 1988).
Some examples of these youth programs included:
El Puente, founded in 1982 and located in Brooklyns Williamsburg
neighborhood, both offered fitness, medical and arts facilities to youth but also
community service internships for environmental action and social justice issues

Jesse White Tumbling Team was a tumbling organization for youth in Cabrini
Green public housing development in Chicago that also offered a team facility
and social network of adults and other youth
Bicycle Action Project was a full-service bike shop run for and by youth in
Indianapolis in which youth invested hours learning bike mechanics, thus
earning a bicycle, and become involved in bike racing or the business aspects of
running the business
Youth Communication in Chicago has produced a teen newspaper with monthly
circulation of 80,000 since 1977, in which youth gained skills in journalism,
photography, illustration, desktop publishing, sales and management
Lemmon Avenue Bridge is a youth center in Oaklawn and East Dallas shaped
and governed by youth, providing a drop-in center, library, and fitness, medical,
arts and cultural facility
Office of Special Programs at the University of Chicago has an enrichment
program for low-income youth in which sports, tutoring, life planning and
enrichment are experienced by the youth
Among other activities in Colorado related to the Assets for Colorado Youth
initiative, there were a number of innovative and successful programs established
and/or initiated that provided opportunities for youth participation. Among these
The Drop-in Center at the Southern Ute Community Action Project in Ignacio
provided opportunities for young people in this tri-ethnic community to find
social support, interact with community adults and organizations, gain skills and
experience in strategic planning, decision-making, fund-raising, creative arts and
cultural exploration
PHAT, a youth-initiated and directed newsletter in Paonia (stands for
Perspectives Held and Announced by Teens,) published youth articles, stories,
commentaries and editorials on local and regional happenings
The Womens Basketball Team of Colorado College, in Colorado Springs,
recruited ball girls from a local elementary school and began a mentoring
relationship with the girls

The Education Center in Pagosa Springs offered an alternative high school for
youth in which part of the academic curriculum was a weekly community service
project, during which the instructor and students reached consensus about the
scope of the project, and afterward discussed the merits of the project
Several communities, including Montrose, West Denver, Ignacio, and Rifle, had
a mini-grant process which was directed and decisions made by youth to
distribute funds to other youth and adult-led programs
The Battlement Mesa Community Center worked with local youth to renovate a
former senior only room in the Center to become a Teen Center
Cherry Creek School District and its Community Assets Project Board
completed its second 24 Hour Relay Challenge in which the District and its
community partners and students participated in organizing, implementing and
running (literally) the successful fundraiser.
Each of these types of youth participation is a useful example of the many
opportunities available to youth for their own personal development and to involve
them in community development. The youth involvement in these programmatic
activities represent the top five rungs of Harts Participatory Ladder. The
involvement of youth in a research process, as in Participatory Action Research
(PAR,) requires some of the same elements as for programmatic activities (e.g.,
involvement in idea generation, strategies and decision-making.) Youth Involvement in Research
Participatory Action Research, or Action Research as it has been frequently
called, is designed to focus on the participation of both the research and the action
by the same people. Its main features are: 1) the research is to be carried out by or
with the people concerned; 2) the researcher feels a commitment to the people and to
their control and participation in the analysis; 3) research begins with concrete
problems (issues) socially constructed by the participants; 4) it proceeds to
investigate the underlying causes of the problem in an iterative incremental process;
5) theory and practice are interrelated, not separate phenomena; and 6) the process

unfolds so that participants themselves can go about addressing these causes (Hart,
1992; Ross, 1998.) Some of these features are based upon the need for participants
to develop a schema, which can be used to interpret what new information means
and its consequences for action (D'Andrade, 1992). This schema can be based upon
internal assumptions about how the world works, motives for different social actors,
and about consequences of action on others. These schemas come in folk and
social-scientific packages (D'Andrade, 1992), but both are about generalizations
about the world and efforts to make sense of it (Ross, 1998). Through these
participatory efforts, the action researcher assumes there will be an opportunity to
direct an outcome in a favorable direction (Argyris, 1985).
Action research has been used beyond what cultural anthropologists term
participant observation (Bernard, 1995) because the researchers are not
outsiders who are becoming emic in order to be as locals but are insiders
who are assuming an alter-ego in order to look anew with an objective eye to learn
from themselves. While participant observation and/or formal structured interviews
may assume researcher fieldwork and interaction with local informants, in action
research the researchers are the informants, among other roles, including the social
actor after the analysis has been performed. While action research would rate
highly in internal validity, response rates, reactivity, and sensitivity to
culture(Bemard, 1995), it would rate lower in objectivity, understanding cause and
effect, external validity, and recognition or interpretation of indigenous culture
(ones own.) Bringing participants in to a deeper understanding of their
condition (Hart, 1992) also fosters a greater understanding of next steps for social
Hart (Hart, 1992) suggested that students are especially ripe for participating
in Action Research because of their requirements for learning and interpretation.
Given adequate support from teacher or other adults, they could use the school as
laboratory and community as a basis for discovering life. He documented a number
of successful examples of youth being involved as action researchers.
One such example of youth involvement as Action Researchers was
demonstrated by the ROLERS project (Reconstruction of Landmark Square;
Educational Research Study) envisioned and reported on by Solomon (Solomon,

1997). While successful outcomes were gained for both the youth (i.e., skills and
experience gained, attitudes changed, opportunities created) and the community (i.e.,
community survey accomplished and delivered), Solomon reflected on the overlap of
Youth Development and Participatory Action Research. She noted that both
strategies require: 1) viewing youth as resources; 2) involving youth as active
decision-makers; 3) creating a sense of purpose for youth; 4) encouraging youth to
become agents of change in their community; and 5) needing competent and well-
trained youth educators/ mentors.
Another effort designed to involve youth in learning about community issues
was the Imagine Chicago effort (Imagine Chicago, 1993), based upon the work of
the Asset-Based Community Development Institute at Northwestern (Krietzman &
McKnight, 1993; McKnight & Kretzmann, 1990). Youth were trained to canvass
the Chicago community to learn about the dreams and potentialities of residents,
community leaders, business owners and entrepreneurs and others with whom they
had contact.
While these projects successfully involved youth in learning about their
community, few PAR projects to date have involved youth in learning about
resources pertinent to their own growth and development. PAR itself offers
opportunities for youth to gain skills and knowledge that is useful in other contexts.
A PAR project that aims to enhance youths understanding about resources and
opportunities available to them and their peers in their own communities not only
could provide those attributes but also better entice them to become social actors and
take on new roles in their community.
A recent example of a mapping project in which youth participated as data
collectors demonstrated that youth can responsibly carry-out mapping methods in
their community. It is unknown whether youth can feasibly assess local resources
through more participatory techniques. Youth Mapping
One of the most recent examples of youth being involved in Action Research
was the relatively new and innovative method termed YouthMapping, coined by the

Center for Youth Development & Policy Research in Washington, D.C. The
method was similar to participatory rural appraisal (Chambers, 1991) in which local
residents mapped and explained key locations, history and events in a village to an
ethnographer. This method, which involved youth in an adult-initiated effort to
map community resources through field interviews and documentation, primarily
served to identify resources and gaps for further analysis and planning. Most
YouthMapping efforts have involved youth primarily as data collectors and less as
initiators, analysts, or social actors. Testimonials from youth suggested that
YouthMapping was a good experience, having provided them with exposure to
community adults (e.g., business owners, program directors, pastors), teamwork, the
broader community geography, self-discipline, and perseverance (Newman, 1998).
It would be useful to assess the feasibility of whether youth can be involved
in a research effort about relevant local resources using PAR principles. While the
YouthMapping effort asked youth to identify organizations that held youth-friendly
policies and practices, it did not assess whether youth were able to access those
resources or whether youth named resources as relevant to their specific
developmental needs. A different approach would be to involve youth in a PAR
project that allowed them to assess their peers reports of useful resources in their
lives. This project could use the specific knowledge about what young people need
for positive development as a framework rather than general reports about what
seems to be useful. The Search Institute framework of 40 Developmental Assets
would be a good place to begin in helping the youth define the parameters of the
research project, so that they could discover where and how youth have
opportunities to build assets in their neighborhoods and community.
1.3 What Kids Need: Building Blocks for Their (Our) Future
While there are hundreds of ways to compile the literature and experiences
of researchers, practitioners, parents and others in thinking about what kids need
to succeed, Search Institute began to create a useable list of these assets based on the
literature and experiences in the fields of resilience, prevention, and adolescent
development. They then developed a framework for describing and measuring these

assets (Benson, Espeland, & Galbraith, 1994; Scales & Leffert, 1998). Both
from the existing literature, peoples experiences, and the subsequent studies of
Search Institute, it was shown that youth who were resilient, who made it despite
facing extreme challenges in their lives, had some or many of these positive factors
in their lives. The Search Institute framework has been used for research about
youth development, in community mobilization as an awareness tool, and also
through measurement of youth perceptions and behaviors in the Profiles of Student
Life: Attitudes and Behaviors survey among more than 900,000 6th-12th grade
youth in more than 350 communities across the country. Through these
experiences, Search Institute learned about refinement of the multiple constructs that
comprised the developmental asset framework, and their utility and relevance in
various sub-cultures within American youth. In the Colorado Assets for Youth
project, a partnership between Search Institute and The Colorado Trust, a second
youth survey was used in addition to the Profiles of Student Life survey in Colorado
Springs to assess the validity of the student reports of the assets and risk and
thriving behaviors. While these data have not been published, early analyses
indicated the Profiles of Student Life data have high validity and reliability in the
Colorado Springs longitudinal sample of over 5,000 youth, grades 6-12.
There has been general agreement in the field of youth development that the
major categories comprising the Asset Framework were the supports and
opportunities all youth needed to grow up healthy (Connell, Gambone, & Smith,
1998). While it has been unknown how to promote or ensure the delivery or
adequacy of these supports and opportunities, there were enough data to name and
celebrate these assets where they existed and to provide additional opportunities
for youth.
The extensive literature on resilience, prevention, and youth development was
reviewed and summarized by Peter Scales and Nancy Leffert in their recent book
defining the face validity of the 40 asset framework. This work was written
according to the 4 External and 4 Internal asset categories which conceptually
organized the 40 asset constructs and their supportive literature. The external assets
were those positive developmental experiences that need to be provided to all youth
by the socializing systems of a community. These assets emerge from constant

exposure to interlocking systems of support, empowerment, boundaries and
expectations, and structure (Benson, 1997, p. 34). The internal assets were those
of the inner life: those commitments, passions, and values that need to be planted
deep in the head, heart, and soul of each young person, an internal
gyroscope...frame of reference that was grouped into commitment to learning,
positive values, social competencies, and positive identity. Strength in these four
areas created a kind of character and centeredness among youth that promotes wise,
health-enhancing choices and minimizes risk-taking (Benson, 1997, p. 46).
In the following section the eight categories that comprised the 40 assets
defined by Search Institute and the empirical literature upon which they are based
were reviewed. Also, the definition of the categories, the role of that asset category
in promoting positive youth development (via its relationship with other youth
behaviors and relationships,) indicators of the presence or availability of those
assets in the lives of broad American youth via the Search Institute data, and
resources or opportunities that may be important examples of ways to build these
assets in youth were discussed. These examples provided a clue for what resources
youth may currently or ideally see in their communities as opportunities for building
assets, and what resources youth researchers might spotlight through a PAR project.
1.3.1 The Support Assets Definition of Support
The support assets refer to the ways children are loved, affirmed, and
accepted. Ideally, children experience an abundance of support not only in their
families but also from many people in a variety of settings, such as in school or
religious congregations, among extended family, within the familys social network,
and in other areas in which socialization occurs (Scales & Leffert, 1998).
Support has been demonstrated to be a critical variable for promoting
resilience and health in children and youth (Benard, 1991; Garmezy, 1993), and that
connectedness to families and schools (as measured in the AddHealth Study)
significantly protected youth from seven of eight risk-taking behaviors (Resnick et

al., 1997). Support has been defined as the provision of material benefits, feedback
that strengthens identity, and caring or nurturance (Price et al., 1993), unconditional
love by a person who is crazy about a child (Bronfenbrenner, 1991), or positive,
fulfilling relationships that help to deal with problems, teach new skills, or obtain
financial resources (Scales & Leffert, 1998). In essence, support is that which
helped a youth know that they were not alone in navigating the world.
The conception and definition of these various kinds of support was
important to review. Scales et al. summarized the literature on parental support,
parental involvement in schooling, other adult support, school support, and
neighborhood support. They summarized various studies that demonstrated
parental support was primarily defined by parenting styles and practices, including
simultaneous: warmth, emotional responsiveness or connectedness; firmness or
boundary setting; democracy, negotiation or adaptability; and encouragment of
autonomy and personal competencies in the youth. The effects of parental
involvement in schooling ranged from increasing motivation of teachers and
increasing the teachers sense of self-efficacy, decreasing a childs emotional stress
in school, increasing attention paid to students level of preparedness for school, and
increasing expectations about school performance. Other adults seemed to provide
important sources of relationship, social support, and a level of competence in
various domains important to adolescents. School support was conceived as
providing caring and fair environments, holding high expectations for the youth,
creating a climate in which youth feel respected and valued, and a place for youth to
belong. Neighborhood support was defined as having constructive activities,
connections to organizations, interaction with other adults (including neighbors,
friends parents, community leaders or congregational leaders), numbers of people
in the neighborhood to count on or intervene with children, and neighbors who
generally helped each other or took collective action. Support Affects Positive Youth Development
Scales and Lefferts review of this asset category revealed consistent
relationships between various kinds of support (i.e., parent, teacher, other adults) and

positive outcomes, such as academic performance, self-concept, less substance use
and violence, and greater psychosocial adjustment. They also noted greater
influence of parental support than that of school or neighborhoods but also reported
a significant interaction between support from various sources. They summarized
that youth benefited from direct and indirect sources of support (Scales & Leffert,
Parental support has been associated, directly or indirectly, with lower
adolescent substance abuse; higher adolescent self-esteem (including self-concept,
academic self-concept, self-worth, positive feelings about self, perceived
competence); positive development of other psychosocial traits (such as lower
acceptance of unconventionality, less anxiety and depression, less psychological
distress, greater ego and identity development, less aggressive conflict resolution,
greater prosocial values and moral reasoning, greater psychosocial competence or
social self-efficacy, greater sense of coherence in life); less delinquency and school
misconduct; and higher school engagement (including motivation, aspirations,
attendance, personal responsibility for achievement, hours spent on homework,
higher grades, higher standardized test scores) (Anderson & Henry, 1994; Brook,
Whiteman, & Finch, 1993; Cooper et al., 1983; Delaney, 1996; Eccles, Early, Fraser,
Belansky, & McCarthy, 1997a; Frey & Rothlisberger, 1996; Glasgow, Dombusch,
Troyer, Steinberg, & Ritter, 1997; Marjoribanks, 1990; McFarlane, Bellissimo, &
Norman, 1995; Palmer, Dakof, & Liddle, 1993; Resnick et al., 1997; Ryan, Stiller, &
Lynch, 1994; Shulman, 1993; Walker & Taylor, 1991; Wentzel, 1994; Wenz-Gross,
Siperstein, Untch, & Widaman, 1997; Whitbeck, Hoyt, Miller, & Kao, 1992; Wills,
McNamara, Vaccaro, & Hirky, 1996; Wills, Vaccaro, & McNamara, 1992).
Support within schools, provided by teachers and the school environment,
has been associated with school engagement and performance (higher grades,
attendance, expectations and aspiration, sense of scholastic competence, fewer
school suspensions, non-delayed progressions through grades); higher self-esteem
and self-concept; greater psychosocial adjustment (less anxiety and depression,
lower feelings of loneliness); and less substance use (Dubois, Felner, Meares, &
Krier, 1994; Eccles, Lord, Roeser, barber, & Jozefowicz, 1997b; Graham, Updegraff,
Tomascik, & McHale, 1997; Patrick, Hicks, & Ryan, 1997; Ryan et al., 1994).

Support by other adults (including neighbors, and neighborhood
environment) has been associated, directly or indirectly, with greater school
outcomes (higher grades, more liking of school, better IQ, higher school completion
rates, higher math test scores); more prosocial behavior; reduced experience of
violence; less substance use; greater psychosocial adjustment (less anxiety,
depression, loneliness), and greater self-esteem, hopes for the future, and
cheerfulness (Cochran & Bo, 1989; Hawkins, Catalano, & Miller, 1992; Sampson,
Raudenbush, & Earls, 1997; Talmi & Harter, 1998; Wenz-Gross et al., 1997)
Different kinds of support may have been more important or predominant
for some youth than others and may have depended on race/ ethnicity, gender and
the presence of serious life disadvantages. Scales et al. explained that girls and
younger adolescents may have been more positively affected by support and
connectedness in general, especially by parental support, that girls seemed to have
larger networks of support and connections across contexts, and that boys may have
been even more sensitive to and helped by support offered outside the family, in the
neighborhood and in the wider community. As well, lessor found (lessor, 1993)
that the impact of the different settings in which adolescents gain support varied with
their developmental stage and the degree to which those settings overlap. Other
studies showed that the usefulness of one kind of support was affected by the
effectiveness of others, such as family support playing an important role in the
absence of positive peer networks and vice-versa (Gauze, Bukowski, Aquan-Assee,
& Sipppola, 1996; Wenz-Gross et al., 1997).
Sometimes it is difficult to interpret how support affects young people. In
one study, parents and adolescents reported support differently. (Paulson, Combs,
& Richardson, 1990). In another study, teachers had many different expectations of
their students that were intertwined with support (Davis & Jordan, 1994) (reflecting
the commitment-to-leaming and boundaries-and-expectations assets in addition to
the support asset.) Thus, the report of the support asset by youth on iheProfiles of
Student Life survey was intertwined with the report of other assets and was difficult
to quantify independently.
Dynamic and interactive support networks appeared to be a reality for
children and youth. Fragmented support networks, in which people (e.g., family,

school, neighbors) did not know each other, seemed to affect youth behavior, as was
demonstrated by a study in which young adolescents with behavior problems at
school were more likely to have fragmented networks (Scales & Leffert, 1998;
Svedhem, 1994). Children and adolescents also interacted with their support
networks, and thus their innate personality characteristics and other learned social
behaviors could influence those who were available to provide support, as was
shown in a classic 30 year study of Hawaiian infants (Wemer & Smith, 1992) and
also in a study of white adolescents (Stice & Gonzales, 1998). Youths networks of
support may also have changed over time, due to family structural changes,
relocation or a host of other factors, including peer group reformation. These
changes may have caused great stress, and/or may have affected explicit choices
made about primary supports, as was shown in a study of late adolescents who had
chosen friends or non-parental adults as primary supports and experienced great
stress (Weigel, Devereux, Leigh, & Ballard-Reisch, 1998). Search Institute Data
A troubling observation about the Search Institute data was that only a
minority of youth in this sample reported having the six support assets that made
up this category. The percent of students reported having had these assets ranged
from 64% (Family support) to 24% (Caring school climat.,) All of the asset
categories (except for the Other Adult Relationships asset) were reported as
significantly lower in the upper grades for both genders than in the younger grades.
For all of these assets, a higher percentage of females reported having the asset in
6th grade and also reported having them in 12th grade (though there was still a
decline in the percent reporting having them) than males did. Fewer than a third of
all youth reported having had positive family communication, parent involvement in
schooling or a caring school climate, and fewer than half reported having other adult
relationships or a caring neighborhood. Only 64% of students reported having had
family support, seemingly the most important type of support, thus it would seem
important to figure out how to provide youth with other kinds of support that would
be useful to them in progressing down the developmental pathways.
29 Examples of Support
Parents have been described as being an important source of support,
primarily due to the time that parents can both directly and indirectly influence other
support networks (Dawson, 1991; Resnick et al., 1997.) One study
(Csikszentmihalyi & Larson, 1984) found that adolescents spent about 19% of their
time with family during a typical week (26% spent with other adults, 23% with
classmates, 29% with friends, 27% alone.) Providing youth with opportunities to
stimulate their participation in meaningful, positive activities in the broader
community might also be useful. Scales et al. reviewed studies (Jarrett, 1995;
McLaughlin et ah, 1994; Scales et ah, 1995) (Morrow & Styles, 1995) (Connell,
Aber, & Walker, 1995a; Price, Cioci, Penner, & Trautlein, 1990; Tierney, Grossman,
& Resch, 1995) where community bridging occurred. Important attributes of
these programs included that they had parent-stimulated or other networks of non-
parental caring adults in which a high level of contact is maintained; activities in
which youth participated, were challenged and felt valued; parental and other adult
monitoring; flexibility in its approaches and democratic youth-driven
programming; opportunities for competency building; grounding in local culture;
and reaching out to youth not already involved. In other words, these bridging
projects created opportunities for all adults to become involved with youth in ways
that were meaningful to both, respectful of differences and values, and provided
resources to help youth reach developmental milestones in their quest to adulthood.
1.3.2 The Empowerment Assets Definition of Empowerment
An important developmental need is to feel safe and valued. The
empowerment assets focus on community perceptions of youth and the
opportunities youth have to contribute to society in meaningful ways (Scales &
Leffert, 1998).

Scales et al. reviewed much of the literature on empowerment in general
(e.g., adults and communities) and among youth. Because empowerment clearly has
meanings associated with imparting or gaining power, it has become a word filled
with negative connotations (associated with paternalistic or patronizing attempts to
give others skills or resources that they may not otherwise have) (McKnight &
Kretzmann, 1990). In contrast, empowerment in which people or communities gain
their own sense of power through experiences in which they have fashioned and
enacted solutions (Cardenas-Ramirez, 1992) is likely the kind of empowerment that
will assist youth along the appropriate developmental pathway toward individuation
and development of competencies. Scales et al. reviewed words that researchers
have used for empowerment: autonomy, self-regulation, roles, helping, giving,
contributing, youth leadership, youth involvement, and youth participation. In
contrast, terms associated with the absence of empowerment include helplessness,
violence, and threats (Scales & Leffert, 1998). Scales et al. also noted that youth
are empowered to the extent they feel free of fundamental physical and emotional
threats to their safety, are seen by others as resources, and make contributions to a
larger whole to which they belong. These definitions of empowerment have been
conceptualized both at a concrete (e.g., how safe a youth feels, the roles s/he has in
the community) and abstract level (e.g., how s/he perceives that adults view youth
generally,) so that each dimension of how the youth is connected to and valued by
the community would contribute to that youths sense of empowerment. This
multiplicity of dimensions emphasizes the important role of multiple social networks
in the lives of youth, because it is not only the youths personal networks (i.e.,
family, peers, school) that influence her/his perceptions of value and contribution,
but also the broader community of adults, institutions and peers who may or may
not be connected to and benefit from the talents and interests that the youth may
bring through her/his power. While safety is clearly an important precursor to the
ability to make societal contributions (Maslow, 1964), being an elemental need that
many youth today do not have, it is not well understood how safety interacts with
other dimensions that encompass empowerment. For instance, inner-city youth,
who were likely exposed to greater levels of violence than others, were contributing
participants in community service projects (Hart, 1992).

Components of programs or experiences that seem to have been
empowering to youth included: reflecting about the meaning of their experience;
acting and not just observing; working with accepting/ uncriticizing adults; assuming
adult responsibilities; making a contribution; exploring their own interests and ideas;
gaining mastery of new skills; communicating respect and honesty; providing a safe
and family-like environment; and linking with real opportunities in the community
(Scales & Leffert, 1998). Empowerment Affects Positive Youth Development
Scales et al. reviewed the literature on the role of empowerment, or feeling
valued and useful, and its effect on health and social outcomes. Feeling valued and
useful was associated with youth having a higher self-esteem or self-concept; greater
sense of personal control or optimism about the future; higher levels of moral
reasoning or thinking; greater social and personal responsibility; more effective
parent-child relationships and more complex relationships; increased school
attendance and academic performance; greater perception of safety at school;
increased social skills; greater participation in community activities; and decreased
negative outcomes, such as delinquency, violence and fighting, school failure,
suspensions, and substance abuse (Benard, 1990; Bilchik, 1995; Conrad & Hedin,
1981; Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 1996;
Council, 1990; Hill, 1983; Hodgkinson, Weitzman, Crutchfield, & Heffron, 1996;
Karnes, Deason, & D'lllio, 1993; Kurth-Schai, 1988; Linquanti, 1992; Price et al.,
1993; Strother and Associates, 1990).
Scales et al. also reviewed varying types of useful roles that youth may
have in a community, and the specific outcomes achieved from those roles. Work,
as in paid and part-time work for youth w ho were still enrolled in schools, was
shown to have both positive and negative outcomes. Negative outcomes included
lower school attendance and engagement, increased dropout, homework completion,
decreased participation in extracurricular activities; increased psychological distress
and depression (if working more than 20 hours/week and different for boys/girls);
lower family and peer group involvement; less parental monitoring; increased

alcohol use and deliquent behavior; less life satisfaction (for girls); increased
traditional gender roles (for boys) (Hill, 1983; Kablaoui & Pautler, 1991; Shanahan,
Elder, Burchinal, & Conger, 1996; Steinberg & Dombusch, 1991; Yamoor &
Mortimer, 1990). Positive outcomes from working included decreased traditional
gender roles (for girls); increased positive emotional tone in family; higher self-
esteem and reliance; higher internal orientation (for girls); less problem school
behavior (for girls); less teacher perception of them as behavior problems (for
boys); greater life satisfaction (for boys); less alcohol and cigarette use (girls);
higher perceived well-being (boys) (Lennings, 1993; Mortimer, Finch, Ryu,
Shanahan, & Call, 1993; Shanahan et al., 1996; Yamoor & Mortimer, 1990). As
one can imagine, these outcomes varied with the satisfaction achieved in the work
role, the hours worked, and other factors related to existing social networks and
Community service and service learning programs also have shown positive
outcomes: decreased school failure, suspension, dropout, delinquency, and behavior
problems at school, and increased school performance and attendance; reduced
teenage pregnancy; high levels of parents talking with adolescents about school;
increased sense of developmental opportunities at school; increased self-concept,
esteem, competence and efficacy; decreased alienation; less depression (for boys);
increased prosocial and moral reasoning; increased self-disclosure; more positive
attitudes toward adults and more mature relationships and empathy; increased
problem-solving skills; increased beliefs about social and personal responsibility,
duty to help others, efficacy in helping others, altruism, concern for others, and
increased community involvement as adult (Allen, Philliber, Herrling, & Kuperminc,
1997; Conrad, 1980; Conrad & Hedin, 1981; Coordinating Council on Juvenile
Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 1996; Moore & Allen, 1996; Scales, Blyth,
Berkas, & Kielsmeier, 1998b; Switzer, Simmons, Dew, Regalski, & Wang, 1995;
Yates & Youniss, 1996)
Decreased safety, on the other hand, produced negative outcomes, including
skipping of school, lower academic achievement, bringing weapons to school,
violence, perceptions that schools are unsafe, having fewer friends and popularity,
and less happiness at school (Anderman & Kimweli, 1997; DuRant, Cadenhead,

Pendergrast, Slavens, & Linder, 1994; Gardner, 1995a; Gottfredson & Gottfredson,
1989; Kann et al., 1996; Slee & Rigby, 1993). Scales et al. found that these
outcomes varied by youth age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity and gender. Search Institute Data
The aggregate sample of youth that responded to the Search Institute survey
had significant variability between empowerment assets, with additional differences
by grade and gender. More than half of the youth reported feeling safe in their
schools and neighborhoods, with older youth and males reporting the highest
percentage of safety. This may have been due either to an actual difference in the
number of threats experienced by these groups or to the youths own emotional or
physical ability to respond to the threats.
Most significant within these data, however, was the trend for a drop-off in
reported empowerment assets from 6th to 11th grade (for the three empowerment
assets other than safety,) with a very slight rise in 12th grade. While girls reported
higher levels of these assets in 6th grade, there was a greater drop-off among females
for the community values youth and youth as resources assets so that the 12th
grade responses were similar between genders, and more girls reported service to
others in the 12th grade than did boys. In these data, youth were less empowered
as 12th graders than as 6th graders. Examples of Empowerment
Those attributes described previously as important in successful
empowerment programs or experiences should be considered essential to all formal
and informal efforts that engage youth in one way or another. While it is possible
to redesign programs or experiences that are intentionally planned for or with
youth, there are a wealth of opportunities for empowering youth that already exist in
communities. If youth work is everybodys job and informal adult and youth
relationships that express interest, respect, caring and support are the foundation for
all formal program activities (Roehlkepartain, 1997) then perhaps it would be most

advantageous to create empowering opportunities for and with youth among all
sectors of our communities.
1.3.3 Boundaries and Expectations Definition of Boundaries and Expectations
Clear and consistent boundaries complement support and empowerment.
Ideally, young people experience boundary assets in the family, at school, in
afterschool programs, and in the neighborhood. They provide a set of consistent
messages about appropriate behavior and expectations across socializing contexts
(Scales & Leffert, 1998).
Boundaries and expectations should be specific to the developmental stage
of a child or adolescent. The external application of boundaries (e.g., from parents)
likely decreases over time due to the internalization of the normative behavior (i.e.,
by the youth.) Expectations for behavior and performance (e.g., by adults and self)
increase given the increased social skills and competencies that a child or early
adolescent would not be expected to have. A later adolescent or young adult should
be expected to monitor themselves and be more responsible, though this varies
somewhat by individual maturity, culture, level of competence, and early exposures
to boundaries and expectations.
Boundaries and expectations are a result of micro-environments
(Bronfenbrenner, 1986), such as parent and family norms and styles, teacher
expectations and rules, peer relationships and pressures, but also about macro-
environments, such as social control mechanisms (e.g., law enforcement rules,
policies) and social norms created by immediate (e.g., neighborhood) and larger
social culture (e.g., mass media). All of these influences likely have an impact on
the perceived expectations of the young person and understanding of appropriate

Lamkin, & Jacobson, 1996; Sampson, 1997). Positive adult role models, as
reviewed by Scales et al., were associated with higher levels of self-esteem and self-
efficacy; improved high school graduation rates, school adjustment, higher
achivement and occupational aspirations and expectations; increased involvement by
girls in competitive sports; and decreased problem behaviors such as early sexual
initiation among girls, smoking, alcohol use, use of marijuana and hard drugs, and
aggressive behaviors (Achor & Morales, 1990; Botvin, Botvin, Baker, Dusenbury, &
Goldberg, 1992; Brewster, 1994; Brown, Frankel, & M.P.Fennell, 1989; Chassin &
Barrera, 1993; Cook et al., 1996; East, 1996; Ensminger & Slusarcick, 1992b; Hops,
Tildesley, Lichtenstein, Ary, & Sherman, 1990; Ryan et al., 1994; Whitbeck, 1987).
Positive peer influence, developed through friend relationships, was found
by Scales et al. to be associated with development of social maturity, increased
altruism and perspective taking; increased self-efficacy, competence and esteem;
higher academic and math achievement, better grades and school competence, and
higher educational aspirations; increased health behaviors; decreased depressive
symptoms and stress, and decreased alcohol use (Cauce, 1986; Eccles et al., 1997b;
Feiring & Lewis, 1991; Frey & Rothlisberger, 1996; Hallinan & Williams, 1990;
Hanson & Ginsburg, 1988; Herman-Stahl & Petersen, 1996; McFarlane et al.,
1995; McGuire & Weisz, 1982; Mounts & Steinberg, 1995; Perry et al., 1989;
Youniss & Haynie, 1992). Scales et al. also reviewed the literature on high
expectations, mostly related to expectations of teachers for their students school
work. These expectations were associated with positive academic performance and
achievement, increased beliefs in ability to achieve, greater occupational aspirations
and expectations and short-term improvement in grades and school attendance
among at-risk students (Achor & Morales, 1990; Chen & Stevenson, 1995;
Christenson, Rounds, & Gomey, 1992; Cook et al., 1996; Weinstein et al., 1991). Search Institute Data
Most of the boundaries and expectation assets measured through the Search
Institute instrument were reported as available to fewer than half of the youth (27-
46%.) Positive peer influence was the only asset that more than half of the youth

reported having (60%.) Again, there were major differences between genders, with a
greater number of females reporting having each asset, as well as between grades,
with percentages of students reporting assets decreasing significantly from 6th to
12th grades. Examples of Boundaries and Expectations
Because adolescence is a time of increasing autonomy and development of
competencies and social skills, there is a natural struggle for independence and self-
regulation. Because of this, the application of externally-imposed boundaries and
expectations by family, teachers, other adults and peers is most effective when it is
part of a warm, caring and otherwise responsive relationship or environment.
Because self-regulation should become a function of the individual by adulthood
(Maccoby, 1984), parents and other adults should both co-regulate behaviors and
activities during early adolescence and increasingly recognize the adolescents
growing capabilities and need for increasing autonomy by late adolescence (Scales
& Leffert, 1998).
Increasing generic life skills and/or specific skills training (Botvin et al.,
1992), as well as social skills training (Petersen, Leffert, Graham, Alwin, & Ding,
1997) have been shown to be effective to build self-efficacy in resisting negative
peer influence (Bandura, 1986; Silvestri & Flay, 1989). Working with children and
youth to increase their social and resistance skills was shown to increase self-
regulation. Parents learned to apply contingent discipline and rewards (Patterson &
Fleishman, 1979), and to consistently monitor their children and youth to improve
self-regulatory behaviors of their child. As well, the encouragement of other adults
in the young persons life to share in monitoring and application of rules and
expectations would aid in creating larger social norms and recognition of
consequences. The redundancy and consistency of these norms and expectations
are more likely to yield consistent and appropriate behavior in youth than if a parent
were the only source of those norms.

1.3.4 Constructive Use of Time Definition of Constructive Use of Time
Healthy communities provide a rich array of constructive afterschool
opportunities. Whether through schools, community organizations, congregations,
or for-profit centers, structured activities stimulate positive growth and contribute to
the development of the other assets (Scales & Leffert, 1998).
Constructive use of time, as defined by creative activities, youth programs,
religious community, and time at home (where it is assumed that interaction with and
monitoring by family members would occur) is contrasted with free or idle time,
or hanging out, where there is little participation or engagement in some
constructive activity or goal. Scales et al. reviewed that this constructive use of time
would be better because it would 1) prevent involvement in risky behaviors, 2)
encourage development of other positive attributes (e.g., problem-solving, leadership,
independence, identity development), and 3) assist young people in developing
positive social supports (Barber & Eccles, April 1997; Carnegie Council on
Adolescent Development, 1992; Leffert, Saito, Blyth, & Kroenke, 1996). Therefore,
it is not only the direct gain or informal education that may be available from the
program or activity itself, but the indirect gain from not having time available for
other risk-taking behaviors and the potential involvement of other adults, youth and
community institutions in the adolescents life. Constructive Use of Time Affects Positive Youth Development
Scales et al. reviewed the scientific literature related to the constructive use of
time. Creative activity, as it relates to involvement in the arts and humanities, has
been shown to enhance learning styles, provide opportunity for expression, enhance
academic performance, increase creativity, intrinsic motivation, self-esteem, and
achievement (Baum, Renzulli, & Hebert, 1995; Conti, Amabile, & Poliak, 1995;
Reynolds, 1995; Weitz, 1996). Scales et al. also reviewed the utility of structured
youth programs, which are believed to provide demand characteristics or

emotional and cognitive challenges usually expected of adult roles (Kleiber, Larson,
& Csikszentmihalyi, 1986), and the opportunity to integrate adolescents into the
social world through connections to adults and their prosocial values (Larson,
1994). Scales et al. found that involvement in youth programs has been associated
with increased self-esteem, sense of personal control, and enhanced identity
development; development of life skills (e.g., leadership, public speaking, decision-
making); increased psychosocial skills (e.g., communication, less loneliness),
decreased risk-taking behaviors (e.g., drug use, delinquency); increased academic
achievement (e.g., grades, likelihood of college attendance, protection against drop-
out); and increased safety (Abbott, Sutton, M.C. Jackson, & Logan, 1976; Barber &
Eccles, April 1997; Center, 1989; Collingwood, Sunderlin, & Kohl, 1994; Dubas &
Snider, 1993; Duke, Johnson, & S.J. Nowicki, 1977; Halpem, 1992; Heinsohn &
Cantrell, 1986; Hudkins, 1995; Mahoney & Cairns, 1997; Orr & Gobeli, 1986;
Posner & Vandell, 1994; Shaw, Kleiber, & Caldwell, 1995).
While it is assumed that structured sports programs would yield positive
benefits for all youth participating, in fact the effects of involvement in competitive
sports is not always positive, perhaps related to the intensity and stress of
competition. Competitive sports has been associated with increased alcohol and
substance use and also decreased rates of smoking (Collingwood, Reynolds, Kohl,
Sloan, & Smith, 1991; Jerry-Szpak & Brown, 1994; Waldron, Lye, & Brandon,
1991). Scales et al. (1998) also reviewed the literature related to being involved in
religious activities or organizations. It is assumed that these benefits are derived
from those who come together with similar values and perspectives, and also from
the integration of an intergenerational community that is not available in many other
settings. Time spent in a religious organization or activities was associated with
increased sense of well-being, self-esteem and life satisfaction; and decreased
problem behaviors such as alcohol, marijuana and other drug use, delinquency, and
early sexual activity; and lower levels of depression (Adlaf & Smart, 1985; Clapper,
Buka, Goldfield, Lipsitt, & Tsuang, 1995; Cochran, Wood, & Ameklev, 1994;
Donahue & Benson, 1995; Hong & Ginnakopoulos, 1994; Jensen, Newell, &
Holman, 1990; Kandel, 1980; Mulvey, Arthur, & Reppucci, 1997; Thomas &
Carver, 1990; Wright, Frost, & Wisecarver, 1993).

Time at home, when spent in warm and caring environments with supportive
relationships where abuse or neglect do not occur, is likely to be related to some of
the other assets which promote positive development, even beyond constructive use
of time. Studies of time spent with family have shown this time was associated with
decreased problem behaviors such as use of alcohol and other drugs, antisocial
behavior, and delinquency and court adjudication; decreased modeling of peers
delinquent behaviors; and improved emotional state of early adolescents (7th-9th
graders) (Cochran & Bo, 1989; Donnermeyer & Park, 1995; Larson, 1997; Warr,
1993; Zitzow, 1990). Search Institute Data
The percentage of youth from the aggregate sample of respondents for the
Search Institute survey who reported having each of the constructive time use assets
ranged from 19% of students reporting being involved in creative activities to 64%
reporting being involved in a religious community or activities. More girls reported
using time constructively, and more 6th graders than 12th graders. Approximately
half of the youth reported spending adequate amounts of time at home, and fewer
than one in five reported being involved in creative activities. Surprisingly, 40% of
youth also did not participate in youth programs. Examples of Constructive Time Use
Because youth programs are likely to offer useful opportunities for youth to
build attributes and be exposed to supportive relationships, having sufficient number
of effective and interesting programs for youth is important. Attributes of effective
programs (Leffert et ah, 1996; Quinn, 1994; Saito & Blyth, 1993; Schorr & Schorr,
1988) included the following: 1) having a broad spectrum of services and
opportunities tailored to the needs and interests of adolescents, making intentional
efforts to extend services to underserved groups, 2) collaborating with other
programs and reaching out to families, schools, and other community partners in
youth development, 3) providing a supportive atmosphere for young people and

encouraging caring relationships between adults and youth, providing respect,
empowerment and trust, 4) using committed youth workers who advocate for and
with youth, 5) offering easy access, use and continuity of services. Some of the key
messages in these attributes of successful programs focused on the relationships
created by the wizards (McLaughlin et al., 1994) who guided and supported
young people i*?^heir endeavors. These wizards or youth workers do not need to
be limited to structured youth programs, however, and perhaps should be distributed
throughout the webs of influence that surround young people. Youth would benefit
from having parents, teachers, neighbors and other community members who might
provide useful opportunities for youth to spend their time constructively, in both
formal and informal activities.
1.3.5 Commitment to Learning Definition of Commitment to Learning
Developing an internal intellectual curiosity and the skills to gain new
knowledge is essential for both school and work success. The commitment-to-
leaming assets reflect how connected young people are to their schools, how
motivated they are to achieve, and whether they express their curiosity and work
ethic in homework and reading for fun (Scales & Leffert, 1998).
Commitment to learning is dependent on the personal beliefs, values, and
skills (Scales & Leffert, 1998) of a young person. It is related also to the
influence of that youths relationships and opportunities which might stress the
importance of learning. Having the positive learning experiences, both formal and
informal, along witlfctonstructive feedback and self-reflection, are opportunities for
individual growth thar assist a youth along her/his developmental pathway. Many of
these opportunities exist at school, where an adolescent spends most of their time
during the school year, but also at home, in other organizations, and occasionally
with peers.
42 Commitment to Learning Affects Positive Youth Development
Scales et al. (Scales & Leffert, 1998) reviewed the literature on achievement
motivation, school engagement, time spent on homework, and reading for pleasure,
which comprise this asset category. Achievement motivation was associated with
increased high school completion and enrollment in college, increased reading and
math achievement test scores, increased school effort; improved perceptions of
school and teachers; increased goal-setting, positive expectations for success,
personal control, managing of stress and anxiety and effective communication skills;
and decreased problem behaviors (e.g., less drug use, less sexual intercourse and
childbearing) (Brooks-Gunn et al., 1993; lessor, Box, Vanderryn, Costa, & Turbin,
1995; Paulson et al., 1990)[Wentzel, Motivation and achievement in early
adolescence: The role of multiple classroom goals #492](Entwistle, Kozeki, & Tait,
1989; Gibson & Kempf, 1990; Goodenow, April 1992,; Hawkins et al., 1992; I.Hay
& Brisbane, 1993).
The measures of bonding to school and engagement with school were
related to higher academic self-concept, more time spent on homework, and
increased school and college attendance; better study techniques; greater feelings of
support (both at school and home); greater perception of personal strengths; and
lessened problem behaviors (e.g., drug use, early pregnancy) (Connell, Felsher,
Clifford, Crichlow, & Usinger, 1995b; Connell, Spencer, & Aber, 1994; Marsh,
1991; McGee, 1992; Paulson et al., 1990; Plotnick & Butler, 1991; Resnick et al.,
1997; Williams & McGee, 1991). Time spent on homework was related to higher
achievement test scores and grades; greater completion and accuracy of homework;
greater external locus of control; and lessened problem behaviors (e.g., conduct,
marijuana use) (Como, 1996; Hagbord, 1991; Miller & Kelley, 1991; Smith, 1992;
Thomas et al., 1993). Reading for pleasure is the asset construct that is least well
understood and studied. Scales et al. (Scales & Leffert, 1998) reviewed the
literature on reading for pleasure and found that it was associated with increased
time on homework, reading achievement, and overall academic achievement (Lee,
Winfield, & Wilson, 1991; Smith, 1990).

The motivation to achieve, bonding to learning institutions, time spent
developing a mastery of a subject or interest, and reading in general are all affected
by the environment of the young person. Parental attitudes (Kubis, 1994),
monitoring and involvement (Finn, 1983; Lee, 1984), aspirations for their child
(Marjoribanks, 1996), parental and other adult support (Connell et al., 1995b),
authoritative parenting (Steinberg, Mounts, Lambom, & Dombusch, 1991), and
family communication (Elmen, 1991) were all related to academic success by
helping to create positive attitudes toward school and learning, expectations about
learning, and more competence and autonomy. Teacher confidence, competence,
support, and fairness (Berends, 1995; Eccles et ah, 1997b; Eccles & Midgley, 1990)
were all shown to be important in increasing bonding and expectations. Peers also
greatly influenced a youths perceptions of norms and expectations and their
success in school (lessor et ah, 1995; Ryan et ah, 1994). Search Institute Data
The percentage of students reporting having the commitment to learning
assets varied greatly by asset and by gender and grade. While only 24% of students
overall reported reading for pleasure, a much greater proportion of females reported
positively than did males. The same gender difference is true for the other assets.
Additionally, while the percentage of males reporting doing one or more hours of
homework every day decreased with grade, for females the percentage increased.
The percentage of girls reporting achievement motivation was similar across grades,
dipping slightly in middle school, but decreased from 6th to 12th grades for boys.
While some might argue that declines in commitment to learning were
developmentally appropriate, it may more likely reflect the larger social culture and
its decreasing value for academic or intellectual attributes. Examples of Opportunities to Build Commitment to Learning
While some of the literature might suggest that increasing the rigor of
formal education would enhance student learning, it is fairly well understood that it

is more than the content or rigor of education that creates successful learning
environments and academic achievement. It is also about relationships between
teachers and students, support of young people by their parents, teachers and peers,
modeling of learning and expectancies in multiple environments, and overcoming
popular culture in the difficult adolescent transitions that will likely foster learning
skills, competencies and commitments. Specific strategies for schools included
minimizing of tracking of students and departmentalization of subjects (Lee &
Smith, 1993), providing opportunities for challenges with feedback (Thomas et al.,
1993), using interdisciplinary and cooperative learning approaches (Arhar &
Kromrey, April 1993,; Perlmutter, Behrend, Kuo, & Muller, 1989), having smaller
teacher-student ratios, using teacher guidance/ advising programs (Felner et al.,
1996), using authentic instruction (i.e., knowledge construction, disciplined
inquiry, knowledge application) (Newmann & Wehlage, 1995), and creating a
greater sense of community and democracy for the youths lives (Fine, Weis, &
Powell, 1997.)
1.3.6 Positive Values Definition of Positive Values
Positive values are important internal compasses that guide young
peoples priorities and choices. Although there are many values that American
society cherishes and seeks to nurture in youth, the assets framework focuses on
several widely shared values that affect youth behavior (Scales & Leffert, 1998).
Caring, equality, and social justice are the prosocial values that seem to form the
domain of empathy shared by most cultures. Integrity, honesty, responsibility and
restraint are the values of personal character which may vary more by culture
(primarily acculturation to the majority Western culture decreases the values of
restraint, responsibility, caring and social justice) (Call, Mortimer, & Shanahan,
1995; Daniels, D'Andrea, & Heck, 1995; Ford & Norris, 1993; Moore & D.Glei,
1995). These values may vary by gender (i.e., primarily due to social definitions of

behavioral appropriateness) and age (i.e., due to the development of abstract or
moral reasoning)(Lambom, Fischer, & Pipp, 1994; Roberts & Strayer, 1996).
Scales et al. (Scales & Leffert, 1998) reviewed literature suggesting
additional factors that affect expression of values or prosocial behaviors. These
included parental values and modeling of values (i.e., warmth and communication,
styles of discipline and boundary setting) (Chase-Lansdale, Wakschlag, & Brooks-
Gunn, 1995; Ford, Wentzel, Wood, Stevens, & Siesfeld, 1989; Krevans &
J.C.Gibbs, 1996), religious influence or the importance of religion in the youths
life (Benson & Donahue, 1989; Benson, Donahue, & Erickson, 1989; Donahue &
Benson, 1995; Juhasz & Sonnenshein-Schneider, 1987), educational values
(Hanson & Ginsburg, 1988), and opportunities to make choices consistent with
personal value systems (Kirby et al., 1994). Positive Values Affect Positive Youth Development
Many of the studies that pertain to values actually measured attributes that
reflect a value, rather than the value itself (e.g., practiced restraint or self-control
rather than the value of restraint). Scales et al. (Scales & Leffert, 1998) reviewed the
literature on values, and found that positive values were associated with higher levels
of prosocial behavior; better problem-solving, reasoning and conflict resolution
skills; greater overall well-being and self-esteem; greater competence at work, home
and school; and fewer problem behaviors (i.e., sexual intercourse, drug use,
affiliation with deviant friends) (Bamea, Teichman, & Rahav, 1992; Call et al., 1995;
Darmody, 1991; Donahue, 1987; Eisenberg, Miller, Shell, McNally, & shea, 1991;
Ford & Norris, 1993; Ford et al., 1989; Gibson & Kempf, 1990; Hanson &
Ginsburg, 1988; Johnson, 1993; Kirby et al., 1994; Krevans & J.C.Gibbs, 1996;
Lambom et al., 1994; Moore & D.Glei, 1995; Roberts & Strayer, 1996; Solomon,
Battistich, & Watson, 1993; Whitbeck, Simons, Conger, & Lorenz, 1989).
46 Search Institute Data
The percentage of students in the Search Institute aggregate survey data
responding positively about the values assets ranges from 42% to 63%. However,
the differences between genders (more girls reporting having the asset) and grades
(positive responders decreasing with grade) were similar across these asset
categories. The most significant difference between 6th and 12th grades occurs for
the restraint asset, with 78% of girls and 65% of boys reporting having the asset in
6th grade and 25% and 18% reporting having the asset in 12th grade. Fewer boys
and girls in 12th grade also reported having the caring, equality and social justice,
and honesty values than in 6th grade, though for girls the differences were lessened. Examples of Opportunities to Build Positive Values
Values are typically built during early exposure to multiple supportive
relationships in which beliefs, capacities and identification (Scales & Leffert,
1998) occur in the family and other micro environments (Bronfenbrenner, 1986).
As well, children and youth are a product of the broader social environment, as
shown by the percentage of college students who reported that developing a
meaningful philosophy of life is essential in 1998 (41%) compared to 1968 (83%)
or who believe it is important to be well off financially in 1998 (75%) and 1968
(41%) (Bronner, 1998).
While character education programs have become rampant in schools and
youth-serving organizations, Scales et al. (1998) found little evidence in the literature
that these have any effect and were primarily politically motivated (Damon &
Gregory, 1997; Kohn, 1997). Alternatively, community strategies that demonstrated
and expose young people to those values, ideas and models they find positively
inspiring produced clear and consistent expectations for young people and
potentially created moral habits or reflexes (Damon & Gregory, 1997). These

youth charters have been created as a result of town meetings or working groups
of parents and community leaders to define the norms for their community.
Scales et al. also found in their review that there were clear differences in
ability to perform moral reasoning tasks among ages and stages in children, and also
differences in ability to perform moral reasoning when considering familiar versus
unfamiliar situations (Delamater & MacCorquodale, 1978; Lambom et al., 1994).
Practicing refusal and communication skills with family, teachers or peers in very
real moral and political problems has been more effective than using abstract
imaginary situations (Kirby et al., 1994; Walker & Taylor, 1991). As well, service
learning programs designed to integrate community service into core academic
courses with meaningful reflection on those experiences has had positive effects on
students reports of values, attitudes and behaviors related to caring and social
responsibility (Scales & Blyth, 1997) and also on their self-efficacy in helping
actions (Scales et al., 1998b). Service learning programs, to some extent, are
designed to promote caring and other values by asking or requiring youth to engage
in helping behaviors consistent with values supported by the general community.
Engaging children and youth in these kinds of actions from early ages would
promote the values underlying them (McDevitt, Lennon, & Kopriva, 1991; Miller,
1.3.7 Social Competencies Definition of Social Competencies
These assets are important personal and interpersonal skills youth need to
negotiate the maze of choices, options, and relationships they face. These skills also
lay a foundation for independence and competence as adults (Scales & Leffert,
1998). These competencies are gained throughout childhood, adolescence and even
adulthood through active relationship with individuals and situations within their
social contexts and networks (Lemer, 1987; Peterson & Leigh, 1990). The skills
described in the asset framework are planning and decision-making, interpersonal
competence, cultural competence, resistance skills, and peaceful conflict resolution.

Luthar, 1995; Mott & Krane, 1994; Parkhurst & Asher, 1992; Paterson, Pryor, &
Field, 1995; Vemberg, Ewell, Beery, & Abwender, 1994). Resistance skills were
associated with increased self-efficacy, autonomy and self-competence; and
decreased problem behaviors (e.g., substance and alcohol use) (Caplan et al., 1992;
Donaldson, Graham, & Hansen, 1994; Ellickson & Hays, 1990-91). Conflict
resolution was associated with increased psychosocial health and adjustment, self-
regulation, self esteem; increased social support; increased academic achievement;
and decreased problem behaviors (e.g., antisocial behavior, early school withdrawal,
alcohol and substance use, suicidal activity) (Gentry & Benenson, 1993; Hinde,
1979; Johnson & Johnson, 1996; Kashani & Shepperd, 1990; Kupersmidt & Coie,
1990; O'Donnell, Hawkins, & Abbott, 1995; Sherrod, 1995; Vannatta, 1996). Search Institute Data
The social competencies category may be the category in which the fewest
percentage of young people reported having these assets in the Search Institute
aggregate survey data, as compared to the other seven categories of assets. Twenty-
nine to 44% of young people reported having any of the assets. Planning and
decision-making was reported present in fewest youth (29%, with males reporting
26-28% from 6th -12th grades and females reporting 36-38% from 6th-12th
grades). [Note: this asset is the only one in which students reports increased over
the grades, with the exception of interpersonal competence, which also increased by
age for the females.] Differences in gender and grade (e.g., more females reported
having the asset than males, fewer youth reported having the asset from 6th to 12th
grade) were similar for all the other competencies measured, with the proportion of
students reporting the assets being: cultural competence 35%, resistance skills 37%,
interpersonal competence 43%, peaceful conflict resolution 44%. It is interesting to
note that conflict resolution skills decreased with the age groups for both boys and
girl, with a huge dip in the early adolescent years and a slight increase in the high
school years.
50 Examples of Opportunities to Build
Social Competencies
Because many interventions attempt to improve the youths competencies in
order to resist problem behaviors, it is important to begin the skill-building process
early enough to improve decision-making or other competency based on the
normative age for the behavior. For example, if the goal is to delay onset of alcohol
use or sexual activity, which become normative behaviors at ages 15 and 17 (Elliott,
1993), it would be useful to provide opportunities for skill-building at an even earlier
age (Leffert & Petersen, 1996).
Scales and Leffert reviewed literature that suggested opportunities for
building the social competencies needed by young people. Planning and decision-
making competencies were facilitated by providing processes for making rational
decisions, weighing options and making plans to implement a decision (Hansen,
1992; Mann et al., 1988). Role-playing of real-life situations in context was also
useful (Ogilvy, 1994). Interpersonal and cultural competence was facilitated by
creating task-related opportunities in out-of-school contexts for interracial and
intergroup friendship ties (Cotton, 1993; Dubois & Hirsch, 1990). Parent education
and support programs also were useful for promoting empathy between individuals
and groups, which assisted students in understanding others (Henry, Sager, &
Plunkett, 1996). Resistance skills were gained by adolescents when social refusal
skills, in combination with an accurate depiction of the percentage of their peers who
were engaging in the behavior to be resisted, continued support for resisting, and
skills to improve self-efficacy, were all provided (Donaldson et ah, 1994;
Donaldson, Graham, Piccinin, & Hansen, 1995; Ellickson, Bell, & McGuigan, 1993;
Ellickson & Hays, 1990-91). Peaceful conflict resolution skills were learned in
early and middle childhood and predicted later aggressive or antisocial behavior
(Robins, 1996), therefore interventions to promote these competencies should start
early (O'Donnell et ah, 1995). Facilitating constructive adolescent social support
networks and facilitating adaptive coping strategies for youth who live in
disadvantaged situations would be important opportunities for learning conflict
resolution skills (Guerra, Huesmann, Tolan, Acker, & Eron, 1995; Kashani &

Shepperd, 1990). Parent education and support may also be useful for promoting
alternative behaviors for mediating conflict.
1.3.8 Positive Identity Definition of Positive Identity
This category focuses on youths view of themselvestheir own sense of
agency, purpose, worth, and promise. Without a positive sense of who they are,
youth may feel powerless, without a sense of initiative and direction (Scales &
Leffert, 1998). Identity development is one of the most critical elements of the
adolescent period (Erikson, 1968) and comprised of an integrated view of self-
concept, beliefs, capacities, roles and personal history (Scales & Leffert, 1998).
Active identity development, defined by Erikson (Erikson, 1968) and Bios (Bios,
1979), occurs when the adolescent chooses her/his attributes by searching for and
selecting those roles and self-images which are in consonance with a desired
psychic structure (Marcia, 1980). Passive identity occurs when an adolescent
accepts the roles and self-images projected by others (Erikson, 1968) or does not
make or reach final choices about that identity (Bios, 1979.) The aspects of identity
that are described in the Search Institute framework include personal power, self-
esteem, sense of purpose, and positive view of personal future. Positive Identity Affects Youth Development
Scales and Leffert (Scales & Leffert, 1998) reviewed the literature related to
personal identity. Personal power was defined as the feeling of having some control
over life events, and was related to locus of control (Rotter, 1975), self-efficacy
(Bandura, 1997), and self-competence (Harter, 1982). Personal power was directly
or indirectly associated with: increased achievement, engagement in learning;
increased problem-solving and coping skills; increased leadership and life
satisfaction; and decreased problem behaviors (e.g., smoking, substance use,
depression) (Allen, Leadbeater, & Aber, 1990; Bouffard-Bouchard, Parent, &

Larivee, 1991; Ellickson & Hays, 1990-91; Gamble, 1994; McCullough, Ashbridge,
& Pegg, 1994; McFarlane et al., 1995; Shulman, 1993; Stacy et al., 1992; Thomas et
al., 1993). Positive self-esteem has been shown to be related to increased positive
relationships with peers and parents; improved adjustment during the early
adolescent transition period and satisfaction with life; increased academic
achievement; improved attitudes about and use of contraception; decreased
susceptibility to peer pressure; and decreased adolescent sexual activity and
nonmarital childbearing (Deihl, Vicary, & Deike, 1997; Holmbeck, Crossman,
Wandrei, & Gasiewski, 1994; Kelly & Jordan, 1990; Lord et al., 1994; Neto, 1993;
Plotnick & Butler, 1991; Robinson & Frank, 1994; Zimmerman, Copeland, Shope,
& Dielman, 1997). Sense of purpose and positive view of personal future were
related to: improved parent-child relationships, increased self-esteem, and decreased
problem behaviors or states (e.g., depression, sexual risk-taking, emotional distress,
violence) (Blum & Rinehart, 1997; DuRant et al., 1994; DuRant, Getta, Cadenhead,
Emans, & Woods, 1995; Grossman & Rowat, 1995; Nurmi & Pulliainen, 1991;
Resnick et al., 1997). Search Institute Data
More than half of the youth respondents in the Search Institute aggregate
survey data reported having a sense of purpose and a positive view of their future,
though fewer than half reported having personal power or self-esteem. Different
than most of the other asset categories, there were similar proportions of young
people who reported having these assets at 12th grade than at 6th, with little decrease
between 7th and 9th grades. The only exceptions were that fewer 12th grade females
reported having self-esteem at 12th grade than at 6th. Another significant dip occured
for females with sense of purpose in 7th -10th grades. While most research studies
showed steadily increasing levels of self-esteem during the adolescent years, girls
typically reported lower self-esteem than did boys. (Simmons & Blyth, 1987).
53 Examples of Opportunities to Build
Positive Identity
Scales and Leffert (Scales & Leffert, 1998) reviewed literature that
suggested that parent, teacher, and community involvement were important in
fostering self-esteem and positive identity in order to enhance the inherent value
young people felt about themselves regardless of appearance and achievement (Page,
1992; Robinson & Frank, 1994). Parents were able to provide intimate and
nurturing relationships with appropriate discipline and expectations (Lackovic-
Grgin, Dekovic, & Opacic, 1994; Papini & Sebby, 1987). Specific programs that
targeted particular domains of self-esteem, such as school work or family
relationships, and included different strategies for building self-esteem among youth
with different profiles, were more useful than those that enhance global self-esteem
(DuBois, Felner, & Brand, 1997, April). As well, strategies that enhanced self-
concept and locus of control boosted a young persons sense of ability to influence
her/his future (Nystrom, 1989). These strategies might include mentoring or
partnering opportunities with adults, higher educational systems, or other
opportunities that increase awareness about possible life choices. These
community-level strategies would provide important resources and social supports
for constructive behavior and development of future paths through awareness and
involvement in social experiences (Bandura, 1997). Institutions and communities
should ensure that these experiences provide adequate strategies to improve
competence and self-efficacy of youth who may have negative self-appraisals as well
as those who are experienced in achievement.
1.3.9 Summary of Developmental Assets
While this work describes the kinds of factors, resources and relationships
that young people need to develop successfully, it also describes the absence of
these resources in the current lives of young people across America. The Search
Institute data are just one indicator of the presence or absence of these resources, but
a more comprehensive snapshot than available in other kinds of data. The cross-

sectional and longitudinal studies in the Search Institute-The Colorado Trust Assets
for Colorado Youth Initiative will contribute to this understanding and enable us to
better understand the students current awareness of their own assets and available
resources. It also would be important to enhance our awareness of resources for
building youth assets in the communities in which we live in order to improve upon
them. The description of examples of these resources are only a small portfolio of
potential opportunities and resources that may be currently available in communities
and that could be discovered and described by young people.
The critical nature of each of these kinds of assets or resources that youth
need suggests that families, social institutions and communities offer a deciding role
in furthering positive youth development in this country. Without support and
engagement of the social contexts within which youth grow, live, learn and work,
they are navigating without provisions, compass, portage or adequate vessel.
Understanding the forces of community and the social contexts in which youth live
will help to understand how better to engage families and social institutions with
whom youth interact.
1.4 Role of Community in Promoting Health
Community, concrete or abstract, has become the focus for many of the
change strategies of governments, civic groups, organizations and initiatives.
These groups assume that the collective forces of community affect the people
living within the communitys boundaries, and that changing these forces will
ultimately change the social issues occurring there. While residential (i.e., census
tracts, neighborhoods) and employment districts typically define community
geographically, it is the political, social, cultural, economic, historical, structural,
and demographic characteristics that describe its character. The varying
composition of these factors in a community, and the dynamics created by them,
evokes the positive or negative forces that affect the people and place in which
youth are raised and succeed or fail. Communities, organizations and individuals
have attempted to shape the local forces and affect the well-being and quality of
life of residents and their ability to raise children.

1.4.1 Concepts of Community
The following review will contribute to an understanding of the nature of the
collective forces of communities and how they impact people living there. This
section will detail the associations between sociodemographic factors and health
conditions, indicators of some of those conditions, various models and frameworks
for better understanding how to affect those conditions, community structure and its
effect on those conditions, and potential new forms of community that may be
evolving to create functional families and social systems through which youth can
thrive. Enduring Associations between Sociodemographic
Factors and Health Conditions
Increasing social problems in American communities potentially will
impact the long-term health and quality of life for current and future residents.
These social problems include, but are not limited to: increasing lethal violence
among youth (Elliot, 1994; National Center for Health Statistics, 1991; Sells &
Blum, 1996); increasing positive attitudes toward and use and abuse of legal and
illicit substances among youth(Johnston et al., 1995; Johnston et al., 1994); a rise
in family dysfunction, evidenced by an increase in domestic violence and child
abuse and neglect (Mickish & Hinish, 1995; Tapp & Hinish, 1994); and a rise in
teen pregnancy among younger girls (Gallagher & Drisko, 1994) with a dramatic
limiting of life options among these citizens related to interrupted education,
unsatisfactory relationships, potential income loss, and lessening of quality of life.
As well, higher morbidity and mortality rates, and prevalence of risk factors for
some conditions or diseases, have been shown to be associated with major
sociodemographic factors. These factors include employment status, income, area
of residence/urbanization, education, occupation, race/ethnicity, and marital status/
family disruption (Bird & Bauman, 1995; Singh & Yu, 1996; Smith, Neaton,
Wentworth, Stamler, & Stamler, 1996)Sorlie, 1995 #280).

Public health efforts to promote and protect health have recognized the
potential causal determinants of health other than individual response or health
care for several decades (Evans & Stoddart, 1990; Kaplan, Haan, Syme, Minkler,
& Winkleby, 1987; Marmot & McDowall, 1986; McKeown, 1979; Ratcliffe,
Wallack, Fagnani, & Rodwin, 1984; Syme & Berkman, 1976). Evans et al (Evans
& Stoddart, 1990) defined the relationships between the determinants of disease,
health and function, and well-being and others (Gil, 1993) expanded it to include
the social, political and economic institutions which shape health through the
circumstances of living, shared power, the nature and quantity of relationships,
and through quality of life.
However, only recently has there been any attempt to restructure social
and physical environments to improve health, or to target outcomes that would
promote quality of life. A broader definition of health, as defined in the Evans and
Stoddard model (Evans & Stoddart, 1990), would evoke a different strategy for
promoting health than one which viewed individual behavior as the target. This
change in problem definition is the difference between the victim-blaming
approach of health promotion and a focus on the social preconditions of a
behavior (Beauchamp, 1976; Tesh, 1981).
In the past, governments of Canada and the U.S. (who have documented
the role of broader environmental factors in influencing health (Lalonde, 1974; U.S.
Surgeon General, 1979) had little success in changing federal policies and programs
to reflect the documented and critical role of social and physical environments in
health. Instead, a programmatic emphasis was placed on individual responsibility
rather than "response-ability, the capacity of an individual to respond to the
challenges posed by the environment (Minkler, 1989). While many programs had
attempted to change the predeterminants of health behavior through organizational
change and community development (Blackburn, Luepker, Kline, & et al, 1984;
Farquhar, Fortmann, Maccoby, & et al, 1984; Lasater, Abrams, Artz, & et al,
1984; Puska, Nissinen, Tuomilehto, & et al, 1985), there was a focus on individual
risk factors rather than on the environmental, institutional and economic
conditions shaping behavior (Green, 1984). More recently, the U.S. government
has attempted to recreate the systems in which people gain access to resources

which will improve their current and future life conditions, through job training,
child care and welfare reform efforts. If is yet unclear how effective these system
transformations will be, though some early evaluation shows that intensive,
creative, flexible well-funded programs can be successful (American Psychological
Association, 1998).
While it has not been an unusual or recent phenomenon to find
associations between sociodemographic factors and health-related conditions, Link
and Phelan (Link & Phelan, 1995) pointed out that sociocultural factors are at
work in all societies... and that a direct focus on them is essential. They
suggested that the enduring associations between sociodemographic factors and
disease asre predictable, because many social conditions are fundamental social
causes of disease (Link & Phelan, 1995). Fundamental social causes of this
health inequity include a lack of resources such as knowledge, money, power,
prestige, and social connections that strongly influence peoples ability to avoid
risks and to minimize the consequences of disease once it occurs. They
suggested that societies shape patterns of disease, due to the distribution of
advantageous resources, and that these social inequities will inevitably reflect
health inequalities.
Thus, the question does not remain whether sociodemographic factors
affect health, but to what extent can societies increase the equity (assuming it is
not a zero-sum principle) and/or improve the distribution of advantageous
resources (e.g., knowledge, power, prestige, social capital) which may reduce the
enduring deficits among some population subgroups. A first step in affecting the
distribution of resources, even among youth, is to examine indicators of various
social, cultural and economic resources and learn how they affect the distribution
of human capital, health and quality of life. Conditions and Indicators of Social
and Economic Capital
Some elements of community theoretically and empirically related to broad
health and quality of life outcomes have been studied both within and across

communities and countries around the globe. These conditions of community can
generally be classified as those relating to three general types of resources. These
include: 1) economic or tangible resources (e.g., those directly related to the
availability of economic capital), 2) those relating to human or social resources
(e.g., those related to the availability of human contact and support), and 3) those
relating to the physical environment of the community (e.g., contaminants,
geographical barriers, physical forces.) It may also be useful to distinguish
between those conditions and their indicators that are most readily available to
families, creating opportunities and risks (e.g., availability of social support, sense
of safety,) and those that are more readily accessible at the community-level,
creating community opportunities and risks (e.g., population density index, crime
statistics.) At times it may be difficult to draw a clear line between those
conditions that reflect economic, human or physical resources, or those that are
most accessible to families or communities, so likely there is overlap between the
importance of the resource to multiple levels of community. Economic Resources and Risks
There are many ways to describe the socioeconomic or social class
resources available to a family within a community, and to a community to
support families. Socioeconomic status has been defined variantly to include
education, occupational status and income (Blane, 1995; Dever, 1991; Krieger,
Rowley, Herman, Avery, & Phillips, 1993), neighborhood composition (Brooks,
1975), quality of housing (Duvall & Booth, 1978), and unemployment (Black &
Laughlin, 1986) just to name a few. These conditions have been measured and
reported in a multitude of ways to indicate the level of economic resources
available to individuals, families and communities. Occupational status has been
reported as type or class, the proportion of certain job classes within a
community (sometimes by gender), full-time paid status compared to other
statuses (including non-paid volunteer or homemaker), level or type of skill
required, and level of employment or underemployment for an individual (Bird &
Bauman, 1995; Dever, 1991; Krieger et al., 1993; Patrick & Wickizer, 1992). The

particular type of class of job, level of employment, and type of skills required is
much more likely to affect a family than would be the ratio of certain job classes
or the level of unemployment or undermployment in a community. Obviously
many of these measures can be aggregated across different geographic units.
Income is reported and measured in different ways to indicate economic
condition. Income is reported as mean, median, average for individuals,
households, neighborhoods and other geographic areas, as well as calculated as a
liveable wage (i.e., assuming some necessary income to guarantee sufficient
standards of living), poverty level (i.e., based on untested assumptions of
necessary income for a certain size family), income equity or income distribution
across or within different geographic units, ratio of earnings between genders, ratio
of earnings for different job classes, and likely many others (Bird & Bauman,
1995; Blau & blau, 1982; Braithwaite & Braithwaite, 1980; Dever, 1991; James,
1995; Kawachi & Kennedy, 1997; Kawachi, Kennedy, Lochner, & Prothrow-Stith,
1997; Krieger et al., 1993; Sampson et al., 1997; Wilkinson, 1997; Wilson & Daly,
1997). Among these many measures, recently reported measures of income
inequality and distribution best predict rates of violence, total mortality rates and
life expectancy through links to social homogeneity, social cohesion, social capital
and collective efficacy (Kawachi & Kennedy, 1997; Kawachi et al., 1997; Sampson
et al., 1997; Wilson & Daly, 1997). Most of these measures have some bearing on
both family and community function or health.
Education has been reported and measured as means, medians or averages
(or rates or percent of persons) of grades or schools attended and/or completed,
degrees or credentials attained, ratios or percentages of graduates of certain grades
or schools in a community, educational equity across geographic units, and level of
literacy (e.g., ability to read and write) (Bird & Bauman, 1995; Dever, 1991;
Krieger et al., 1993). Educational achievement is often grouped with education
level, and includes test scores and other measures of skill or knowledge. Education
likely affects the ability of a family to prosper and a community to capitalize
upon its human resources.
Social class has been defined abstractly and in varying ways, and some
social class definitions are similar to those of socioeconomic status. Marmot,

Kogevinas and Elston (Marmot, Kogevinas, & Elston, 1987) defined social class to
include conditions of income, wealth, education, culture, general conditions of life,
and social position. They suggested that one must consider each of these
conditions of the human life and its aggregate in order to adequately assess the
context in which we live. Other measures of social class included housing tenure
and access to a car (Fox & Goldblatt, 1982). While these indicators were certainly
about income, they were also about culture and social position. Social class has
been shown to be more stable over time and would likely affect the human
condition dramatically, though varying somewhat worldwide (Marmot et al.,
Krieger et al noted than the economic return of socioeconomic conditions
may be different between races, genders and classes (Krieger et al., 1993). They
posited that assumptions made about differences between races and
socioeconomic status are invalid, in that it is not true that the socioeconomic
conditions of people of different races within each economic category are roughly
comparable, nor is it valid to assume that races overlap sufficiently in
socioeconomic distribution to permit adjusting for social class. It is likely that
these same assumptions are false for understanding life conditions of the two
genders and different classes of people.
Related to these underlying assumptions about social class are the
physical, psychosocial and economic effects of residential and occupational
segregation on morbidity and mortality (Bird & Bauman, 1995; Krieger et al.,
1993; U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1992.) This segregation exists among genders,
races and classes. It is also probable that these kinds of segregation affect other
human resources which otherwise might be available to individuals or families.
Other economic conditions that affect the opportunities and risks for
families and communities include availability of necessary resources, such as food
markets or child care facilities, or overexposure to unwanted resources, such as
liquor and gun stores (Krieger et al., 1993). Economic stability or growth also
provides additional resources, such as employment opportunities, quality
housing, and optimal neighborhood living conditions (Krieger et al., 1993; Patrick

& Wickizer, 1992). Economic deprivation (Carstairs & Morris, 1991) has been
defined as overcrowding, male unemployment, low social class, and lack of a car.
Simultaneously occurring with economic stability or growth, which
produces jobs and economic opportunity, are other risks that predispose a
community to a lower quality of life. Increased crowding (Gove & Hughes, 1980),
a culture of violence (Blau & blau, 1982), loss of organization, cohesion or
appropriate social relations or norms (Krieger et al., 1993; Patrick & Wickizer,
1992) may result from excessive population density or growth or a swift mixing of
cultures, races, classes and generations. Population density has been used as an
indicator of crowding or growth, and an Index of Demographic Pressures has been
suggested as a way to measure population growth, age structure, urbanization,
labor force growth and heterogeneity (Dever, 1991). An Index of Destabilization,
measuring problems of governance, might also be one method for learning about
the effectiveness of local evolution of community structures simultaneous with
changes in community (Dever, 1991). Human or Social Resources and Risks
While most of society recognizes the effect of economic factors on the
human condition, fewer people recognize how human or social resources interplay
with human development to produce opportunities and resources or pose risks.
Social organization, social support, social cohesion, and social climate are some of
the critical components of human resources that provide resources or risk in their
Community or neighborhood organization, sense of collective efficacy,
and/or its converse of disorganization, are related to the health and well-being of
community, including rates of violence (Sampson & Groves, 1989). Utilization of
human capacity might be categorized as one form of community organization or
efficacy, in that the education, skills and willingness to volunteer or participate
can bring an abundance of resources to bear within a locale. As noted above, a
sudden increase in population or mixing of cultures to produce a more

heterogeneous community may affect community organization and a peoples
sense of efficacy in effecting a common vision.
Social support, or relationships that are supportive of ones phase of life
needs, has been studied extensively and was associated with improved morbidity
and mortality outcomes (Berkman & Syme, 1979; House, Landis, & Umberson,
1988). Social relationships have often been measured as marital status, number of
extended family and friends, formal and informal affiliations, level of informational
support, membership in church or other civic organizations (Berkman & Syme,
1979; Krieger et al., 1993; Patrick & Wickizer, 1992; Schoenbach, Kaplan,
Fredman, & KLeinbaum, 1986) but were also related to the level of social
integration afforded a person by her/his social class, age, race, gender and available
social organization (House, 1987).
Social or family cohesion or connectedness was another component of
human resources that provided opportunity for human development (Egoff,
Lasker, Wolf, & Potvin, 1992; Resnick, Harris, & Blum, 1993). Cohesion has been
described as ethnic, cultural or social homogeneity, and has been measured as
variation in the particular factor within a particular geographic unit or community,
and has been shown to provide some buffer for morbidity, mortality, and crime
(Egoff et al., 1992; Krieger et al., 1993; Patrick & Wickizer, 1992; Sims, 1996)
through deep understanding and acceptance of others with similar culture, close
ties, and broad social networks of support (Egoff et al., 1992). Connectedness has
been defined as school, family, and religious connectedness and has proven to be
an important protective factor for boys and girls related to risk-taking behaviors.
Challenges to social and family cohesion or connectedness might include social or
geographic mobility, intermarriage, changes in gender roles and expectations, and
mixing of cultural traditions (Patrick & Wickizer, 1992).
Social climate has also been demonstrated to be related to the quality of life
in community. A warm and supportive climate, rather than a cold and controlling
one, shapes the behavior of the residents (Insel, 1980; Insel & Moos, 1974) and
vice-versa, while a person-environment fit is critical for promoting positive human
development (French, Rodgers, & Cobb, 1972). Pace of life, or time urgency, of a

community has been used as an indicator to understand causality for heart disease
(Levine, Lynch, Miyake, & Lucia, 1989). Physical Environment and Resources or Risk
Physical environmental factors can shape the exposures and preconditions
for health and a community. Air and water hazards and contaminants, geographic
location (e.g., urban/ rural, region, physical boundaries), climate, noise levels,
physical forces (e.g., geoseismic activity, hurricanes) and certainly population
density and size have all been shown to be related to health and life conditions
(Krieger et al., 1993; Patrick & Wickizer, 1992). Many indicators and indices are
available to understand how these factors contribute to community well-being.
It may be that healthy communities are where social structures provide a
space for understanding inequities, promote organization and self-efficacy, create
social support and cohesion, and offer reflective problem-solving and creativity,
causing a sense of bondedness. Perhaps this type of community is able to best
utilize the resources previously suggested as being involved in the prevention of
the fundamental social causes (Link & Phelan, 1995) of disease. Rather than
examining the deficits of a community which contribute to the ill-health or
dysfunction of its members, perhaps it is more important to assess the resources
or assets, including the role of social or community structures, which may build a
community from the inside.
While many studies have attempted to characterize some of the social,
economic, and physical resources that may impact community health, these
constructs have not been adequately operationalized or examined to determine
their utility in promoting health. It would be important to better understand these
constructs, as well as those dealing with cultural, historical, political, structural
and other factors and how they impact families and communities and their ability
to provide resources for young people. It may be imperative to understand the
systems, structures and processes that promote those assets perceived to be
valuable in creating a healthy community.
64 Beyond the Village: Families, Socialization,
and Community
Society at large is an awesome target for any type of social change,
especially when you consider the array of cultural, historical, political, economic
and a host of individual-level factors which affect subpopulations variantly. It is
nearly impossible to conceive of an intervention that would invoke change
successfully among so many various groups. Community is a handy
intermediary for interaction, somewhere between society and individual as a
target. While community is often defined in nebulous terms, and change there
likely to be challenging, it is a more distinct unit with which to interact than
society and a more efficient, and probably more effective, unit than individual.
Connell, Gambone and Smith (Connell et al., 1998) articulated a framework
that depicted the kinds of supports and opportunities that community socializing
systems should provide to promote healthy youth development. These supports and
opportunities included (in their framework) adequate nutrition, health and shelter,
multiple supportive relationships with adults and peers, challenging and engaging
activities and learning experiences, meaningful opportunities for involvement and
membership, and physical and emotional safety. While not specifying the literal
structure of the community systems to provide these opportunities, they suggested
that community strategies to enhance the opportunities might include strengthened
adult capacity, reformation and coordination of public institutions, increased number
and quality of developmental activities for youth, and newly created and realigned
resources in public and private sectors. Certainly these strategies are beyond the
scope of families or informal social networks, yet not suitable for currently designed
governance structures. One of the difficulties of enacting these new strategies for
youth development is discovering new spaces in current community or society in
which the focus is reconfiguring social structure, newly promoting human capacity,
and renegotiating roles for youth. These new spaces would promote the role of
individuals and collective groups as social actors to effect the direction in which
community develops to promote positive pathways for youth development.
65 Social Action Framework
Community is an important ecology through which culture is created,
resources are delivered, information and communication are disseminated, and a
system through which change evolves. Many socializing systems exist within a
community, though usually few occur naturally outside of the family for whom the
focus is the development and integration of the communitys children. Social
networks often include in their focus the upbringing of children, but have little
ability to effect larger formal socializing systems in which children are exposed to
the broader cultures expectations and perceptions of them and the available
resources. Volunteer networks or partnerships are often created to increase the
visibility of an issue, to increase the formal or informal power of a collective group
of people or organizations, and to effect change within a community system. The
effectiveness of these partnerships is unknown, though there are many attributes
which are reasoned to be important in developing community structures though
which desired change occurs. It is useful to understand the current systems in a
community that could mobilize to create a desired change effort for families and
youth. Community Planning vs. Social Action
Daniel Stokols suggested that environments have a "health promotive
capacity" typified by the family and work situations, settings, and overall life
situation (Stokols, 1992). This capacity would comprise person-focused factors
(biogenetic, psychological, behavioral) and environment-focused factors
(geographic, architectural, technological, and sociocultural). The ultimate goals for
the environment-focused strategies were individual, social and physical
environmental changes (e.g., health and safety-oriented urban planning).
While socioecological concepts are utilized in public health agencies, there
often is not enough political support to create substantive change. As well, top-
down approaches do not involve or empower those who are the target (White &
Wehlage, 1995). Florin and Wandersman (Florin & Wandersman, 1990) suggested

that "principles of partnership" are necessary for long-term community change,
whereby those who are affected by a problem be involved in its definition,
planning, problem-solving, and in creating the methods by which the change can be
instituted and sustained. These individuals and groups act to gain mastery over
their lives in the context of changing their social and political environment
(Wallerstein, 1992). The essence of the contemporary social action movement lies
in citizen participation, coleaming, and dialogue (Friere, 1970; Halvorson &
Easterling, 1995) which may lead to innovative solutions. With increasing citizen
participation in America, it is unknown how this social action process is
operationalized and whether it works. Wallerstein et al. (Wallerstein, 1992)
suggested that it is important to understand how "this dialectial interaction
work(s) in practice. A Framework for the Existing Literature
on Community Social Action
If health is related to the physical and social contexts of daily life, then a
social action approach in communities may mediate health-promoting change in
these environments. Patrick and Wickizer (Patrick & Wickizer, 1992) proposed
that community risk factors and community modifiers directly and indirectly
affected community outcomes. Green and Kreuter's health promotion PRECEDE-
PROCEED model (Green & Kreuter, 1991) focused on individual behavior and the
environment, and the predisposing, reinforcing and enabling factors related to the
targeted health outcome.
These frameworks considered many community contextual variables, but
did not account for the social action process and its impact on community
development. A new framework, which I have articulated, incorporating much of
the existing literature on social action efforts (Social Action Framework) may
integrate the various community components through which the social action
effort occurs, the structure and process related to the effort, and the resulting
dynamic of the effort.

In the Social Action Framework. Community variables affect the social
action process by predisposing or enabling/ mediating community change, and by
reinforcing the social action process. These factors include:
definition of community (Patrick & Wickizer, 1992);
individual, family or community economic resources(Krieger et al., 1993;
Pappas, Queen, Hadden, & Fisher, 1993)
social and ethnic cohesion and homogeneity (Beckman & Syme, 1979; Egoff et
al., 1992; House et al., 1988);
physical environment (Blot & Fraumeni, 1976; Deacon & Williams, 1982;
Greenberg, 1983; Hexter & Goldsmith, 1971);
civic infrastructure (National Civic League, 1993);
crisis events or epidemics (Drexler, 1991);
history of organizing, organizational infrastructure, a history of collaborative
efforts, and leadership skills (Butterfoss, Goodman, & Wandersman, 1993);
competition for clients or scarcity of resources (Abramson & Rosenthal,
recognition of mutual need and shared responsibility (Fawcett, Paine, & al.,
1995; Kracke, 1996);
external mandates (Weiss, 1987);
need to reduce problem complexity or increase profitability (American
Leadership Forum, 1993; Anderson, 1996);
need for innovation because other things have failed (American Leadership
Forum, 1993; Anderson, 1996); and
an equitable level of power and security among members and legitimacy of a
group to address an issue (Abramson & Rosenthal, 1995; Weiss, 1987).
An optimal community context for a successful social action process has
not been defined. These variables will affect the motivation of a community to
undertake a decision-making/ action process, its ability to carry-out and sustain
that effort, and its propensity to affect health and quality of life outcomes.
The Social Action Structure and Processes describe the integral
workings of a community effort (i.e., how the effort is shaped, formed and
operated). Because coalitions are often the chosen method for operationalizing a

social action effort, much of the literature related to these efforts describes
coalitions. Various community organization models have been defined (Rothman
& Tropman, 1987), although most individuals in a community work in
collaborative activities based on their past experiences, learnings, and personal
style. Partnership types have also been classified (Edwards & Stem, 1998) and
included classifications related to membership characteristics, reasons for
formation, functions, stage of development, and organizational structures
(Butterfoss et al., 1993). Organizational structure classifications included
definitions of organization-set coalitions (e.g., groups of cooerating organizations
that provide resources or services under an umbrella organization), network
coalitions (e.g., loosely coupled groups of organizations that provide services to a
particular client population and come together for a specific purpose), and action-
set coalitions (e.g., which bring together agencies and individuals that may not
have been in the same network to achieve a particular purpose, planning,
implementation, coordinating and advocating for their communities (Butterfoss et
al., 1993).
Structural characteristics important in social action activities include:
strong leadership (Brown & McCook, 1987; Butterfoss et al., 1993; Cohen,
1989; Feighery & Rogers, 1989; Kouzes & Posner, 1993; Miller, 1988; Miller,
1992; Posner & Kouzes, 1994; Prestby & Wandersman, 1985);
representative membership (Edwards & Stem, 1998; Prestby & Wandersman,
1985; Wandersman, Florin, Firedmann, & Meier, 1987);
central staffing (Butterfoss et al., 1993);
clarity of purpose for the lead agency (Mizrahi & Rosenthal, 1992);
appropriate organizational design (Butterfoss et al., 1993; Goodman &
Steckler, 1990);
formally defined structures and processes (Associates, 1994; Center for
Substance Abuse Prevention, 1995);
flexible and adaptive structure that can hold different perspectives (Copple &
Copple, n.d.; Mattessich & Monsey, 1992); and

unique, well-understood, realistic, relevant and achievable purpose (Bailey &
Koney, 1995; Fawcett, Paine, & al, 1993; Fawcett et al., 1995; Francisco &
Fawcett, 1996; Mattessich & Monsey, 1992).
Elements of a social action process which may lead to effective
community-based citizen participation and planning include:
needs and asset assessment(Bracht & Kingsbury, 1990; Krietzman &
McKnight, 1993);
facilitation (by natural community leaders or external facilitators) (Hall, Clark,
Giodano, Johnson, & Roebel, 1977; Hawkins & Catalano, 1992);
technical assistance (Hawkins & Catalano, 1992);
formalization of by-laws, policies and procedures, mission statements, goals
and objectives defined roles, ground rules (Andrews, 1990; Butterfoss et al.,
1993; Giamartino & Wandersman, 1983);
consensus building, including focusing on issues before solutions and including
value shapers early on (e.g., media, clergy, community leaders), and
respecting differences and building on similarities (Anderson, 1996; Kotloff,
Roaf, & Gambone, 1995; Nezlek & Galano, 1993).
The social action dynamic refers to the affective and cognitive climate
created by the collaborative process. This dynamic has been related to group
success (maintenance), but little speculation has occurred relating it to community
learning. Important elements have included:
behavioral interactions between members, staff, and natural or external leaders
(Giamartino & Wandersman, 1983);
shared decision-making/ problem-solving (Brown, 1984; Edwards & Stem,
1998; Wandersman, 1981);
variety of membership skills (Brown, 1984);
unimpeded internal communication, trust, expression of doubt (Abramson &
Rosenthal, 1995; Andrews, 1990; Butterfoss et al., 1993; Feighery & Rogers,
1989; Mulroy, 1997);
cohesion/ flexibility (Olson, McCubbin, & Associates, 1983)
collaboration (Chrislip, Larson, & Smith, 1991; Wood & Gray, 1991);
constructive negotiation of differences (Gray, 1985; Wood & Gray, 1991);

flexibility and adaptability (Mattessich & Monsey, 1992);
an interactive, open process (Mattessich & Monsey, 1992)
focus on a social problem, meaningful work, or unique purpose (Chrislip et al.,
1991)Mattessich & Monsey, 1992; Wood & Gray, 1991);
a building block approach to problem-solving (Gray, 1985);
opportunities for authentic input (Nadel, Spellman, & al, 1996); and
communication within the coalition and feedback to and from the community,
appropriate for different styles of learning (Butterfoss et al., 1993; Center for
the Study of Social Policy, 1995; Gambone, 1997; Kleiner, 1994; Mulroy,
Very little is known about which components related to the structure,
process or dynamic of a social action effort are critical for increased community
capacity or community solutions related to health and social problems. Research
has documented important components related to the success of a coalition
operation and maintenance (and member satisfaction) rather than to the desired
process and outcome objectives of a social action effort. In addition, definitions of
community may be critical for understanding the resources (e.g., knowledge,
power, prestige, social capital) available for invoking social change. Changing Conceptions of Community
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, several noted sociologists/
philosophers devised typologies for defining community. In 1887, Ferdinand
Tonnies published Gemeinschaft und Gesselschaft (Community and Society)
(Tonnies, 1963) in which gemeinschaft represented the agrarian lifestyle of
tradition, sentiment, common bonds and family and gesellschaft depicted the
segmented, rational and impersonal relationships of urban industrial society in
Germany. Emile Durkheim quickly followed with descriptions of the dissolution
of social ties caused by industrial and political revolutions in Europe (Durkheim,
1893). His mechanical solidarity resembled the gemeinschaft which provided
homogeneous values for communal life, while an organic solidarity represented
the mutual interdependence of industrial life, analogous to gesselschaft. Max

Weber similarly described an increasing rationalization, based on efficiency and
return rather than values, common to capitalistic Europe in the early 20th Century
(Weber, 1921). These dichotomous typologies were central to the community
studies of the mid to late 1900s. These queries into the idealized portraits of
small towns in Euro-American countries presumably established that the social
transformations occurring in large urban areas were a reflection of the
disintegration of communal life caused by the loss of localized communities.
Numerous others identified typologies or characteristics to distinguish a
traditional Gemeinschaft community from a more urban Gesellschaft frame. Louis
Wirths classic essay on urbanism (Wirth, 1938) described urban life as having a
powerful modifying force on social relations, caused by the formal control
mechanisms that substitute for the community norms existent in folk society.
He also presupposed that cultural distinctions might disappear based upon the
interdependency associated with urbanity and competition. Robert Redfield
studied the folk society of rural Mexico and depicted the other end of the
continuum of community life as isolated, homogeneous and cohesive (Redfield,
1941). Talcott Parsons (Parsons, 1951) likewise distinguished specific social
action variables (e.g., affectivity vs. neutrality, particularism vs. universalism) to
which an individual or a society would ascribe dependent upon their/ its
orientation. These variables were used to reflect upon the modernity of whole
nations based upon their differentiated social systems.
Redfield later described communities as having varying levels of integration
with communities external to it, such that communities could be depicted as being
a series of concentric circles (Redfield, 1956). He described these social
relationships as becoming more impersonal and affected by principle(s) of
superordination as one moved out the circle. Roland Warren also described the
effect of locality vs. interest grouping in communities (horizontal vs. vertical) as a
result of the progressive reorganization (rather than deterioration) of community
living (Warren, 1956). He theorized that this community development resulted in
increasing specialization and fragmentation, creating difficulties associated with
cohesiveness (i.e., horizontal coordination). These and many other studies
presumed that the demands placed upon a local community by increasing vertical

integration would effectively destroy the independence, autonomy and
cohesiveness associated with homogeneity and isolation.
These studies, which built upon the early idealistic community typologies,
have been refuted by many. Oscar Lewis (Lewis, 1951) reexamined Redfields
early work and found that both folk and urban characteristics existed in this rural
Mexican town. He discovered that different social structures were more explained
by interaction networks, values and mental orientation and quality of interactions.
William Whyte (Whyte, 1957) unearthed primary social networks among
residents of a major urban community. Emery and Oeser (Emery & Oeser, 1958)
described the broadened perceptions and enhanced willingness to change among
rural farmers based on nonlocal stimuli. Both Bell and Boat (Bell & Boat, 1957)
and Fischer (Fischer, 1975) described the communal characteristics of social
relationships in large urban areas and bureaucracies. Community, therefore, would
appear to be more complex and difficult to depict than the early sociologists
would have proposed among large industrial centers or rural locales.
Other frameworks for studying community evolved during the time of
Redfields and Warrens work. Some of these were based upon the types and
qualities of interaction, including Kaufmans locality-oriented interactions (i.e.,
directed toward community goals) (Kaufman, 1959), Sutton and Kolajas
dynamics of action (i.e., collective problem-solving) (Sutton & Kolaja, 1960),
Dahls (Dahl, 1961) or Rogers (Rogers, 1962) distribution of power and decision-
making authority, and Hawleys (Hawley, 1963) percentage of high status leaders
or elite. Simpson (Simpson, 1965) described that organizational membership and
interaction, personal identification, and service mapping produce different
community or subcommunity boundaries.
These sentiments remain consonant among more recent studies examining a
sense of community. Riger et al. (Riger & Larrakas, 1981; Riger, LeBailly, &
Gordon, 1981) found social bonding and behavioral rootedness to be relevant to a
sense of community. Doolittle and MacDonald (Doolittle & MacDonald, 1978),
Glynn (Glynn, 1981), and Bachrach and Zautra (Bachrach & Zautra, 1985) all
discovered that a sense of community was associated with the ability to function
competently or have a greater sense of purpose. McMillan and Chavis

(McMillan & Chavis, 1986, p.14) noted that strong communities are those that
offer members positive ways to interact, important events to share and ways to
resolve them positively, opportunities to honor members, opportunities to invest
in the community, and opportunities to experience a spiritual bond among
members. More recently, James Kent et al. (James Kent Associates, 1996)
conducted an ethnomethodologic study in isolated rural communities in the
Appalachias to assess the cultural attachment of the people for the place.
Indicators of cultural attachment were created to identify areas where cultural
attachment exists and to examine the impact of an externally-imposed change on
the life of the community.
While many of the studies of the last three decades are still rooted in
interaction, bonding and social connections (gemeinschaft), only some of them
have moved away from the need to denigrate urbanity and its complexity
(gesselschaft) as the cause for loss of community. While it is likely that the
forces of modernity have greatly impacted the essence and structure of
community in developed (and likely non-developed) countries, it is critical to
recognize those forces as permanent, not transient, and to examine and construct
communities based on those realities.
Giddens (Giddens, 1993) described modernity as the institutions and
modes of behavior since post-feudal Europe which have become world-historical
in their impact. In his essay, Giddens documented that the modem state has
been characterized not only by industrialism (i.e., use of material power and
machinery in production), but also by capitalism (i.e., commodity production
involving competitive markets and commodification of labor) and surveillance (i.e.,
organizational power/ supervisory control of subject populations). The
transformations associated with each of these dimensions has been profound, he
noted, because of the expanding glocal social connections available, the rapid
alteration of day-to-day existence due to technology and other spheres, and the
previously non-existent modern social-political institutions. These institutions,
embodied as nation-states and organizations, monitor policies, plans, and social
relationships on a geopolitical scale independent of time-space distances. This
disembedding of social institutions is both related to (perhaps causally) and

symbolic of the restructuring of community. As social relations are redefined
based upon non-local institutions of control, power and information are
redistributed (likely outward) to reflect these changes. Concomitantly, the
swiftness of change based on ever-growing information and knowledge causes a
pressure for reflexivity and generativity not previously required of individuals or
These two simultaneous forces of modernity are largely responsible for the
enormous pressures and strains on local folk and the loss of sense of community.
First, the loss of autonomy and power caused by the vertical integration of
communities and second, the swelling demand for reflective problem-solving and
creativity caused by continuous imposed change, pose serious dilemmas for
individuals and communities struggling to get by. One can see how the dark side
of modernity has propelled people into the organizing mediums of religion, the
military and cults to search for meaning, safety and reliability. The beliefs and
practices of these mediums, though often rigid, allow one to temporarily retain
some sense of stability which in the past was provided by social and kinship
structures of community. Without these social structures, some individuals, and
even some communities, search desparately for the community and communion
they remember having once had. Social Structure and (Dis)Order Contribute to
Community Resources
If it is desirable to understand the structures and processes that promote a
communitys chosen values and health outcomes, then it is also important to
identify various forms of social structure available to the community. Social
structure has been defined as the total pattern of social organization produced by
a cultures social practices (Henry & Milovanovic, 1996, p.45). Henry et al.
describe the modernist, postmodernist and constitutive approaches for envisioning
social structure and order, so that it is possible to imagine communities which
perceive of their structures differently.

Modernist visions of social structure and order assume an underlying order
(to be discovered) which would evolve or develop over time. In attempts to
deterministically survey social structures, one would look for a central
government, the nature of constitutive units, differences between those
constitutive units, and an order based on values and norms or a disorder due to
continual struggle between the constitutive units. While various images of social
structures may emerge (i.e., consensus acephalous, pluralistic, consensus power
hierarchy, class hierarchy, power class hierarchy, dual power class hierarchy)
(Henry & Milovanovic, 1996), they all share the assumption that the descriptions
reflect reality which can be discovered through rigorous investigation.
Postmodernist versions of social structure, on the other hand, believe that
structure is unreal except for the images discursively produced by human subjects
(Rosenau, 1992). The symbolic representations of structure are routinely
constructed through discursive relations, in the form of narrative, text and other
interpersonal communication. These structures both act to maintain themselves
through self-organizing (Teubner, Farmer, & Murphy, 1994) in which the
autopoietic systems... provide a continuous influx of disorder against which the
system maintains or changes its structure, and seek to replace social formation
and dominant power relationships by creating new social relations with meaning
and substance (Cloud, 1994; Smart, 1983), through reformulation of myth.
As well, instabilities are the norm in postmodernist structures. The
principles of instability are founded in chaos theory, quantum mechanics, Godels
theorem, and catastrophe theory (Henry & Milovanovic, 1996). The prevailing
utility of chaos theory in visions of social structure has been in theorizing that
order is the exception, something that is imposed, discursively, on a more chaotic
world (Dews, 1987). The more normal state of the world is that within which
dissipative structures abound (Prigogine, 1977); they are unstable and sensitive
to their environment, and in such conditions, small changes produce large
differences. Dissipative (and postmodernist) structures lead to chance,
spontaneity, and uncertainty (Gleick, 1987). In this model, social structures are
not permanent states, tending toward openness and responsiveness.

The uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics suggests that it is
impossible to specify location and momentum (velocity) simultaneously, meaning
that no static conceptualization of a social structure is possible (Berry, 1977).
The determinism desired to call a spade a spade is replaced by probabilities for
position and momentum. The implications for a structural analysis include loss of
predictability, and indeed, a definite structure.
Godels theorem, or the incompleteness thesis, suggests that it is
impossible to prove or disprove the consistency of a formal system from within
the system (Penrose, 1989). One cannot see the whole picture for the gaps that
will exist due to the observers viewpoint. And catastrophe theory suggests that
dynamic systems pass through points of instability (Thom, 1975). Deviation is
not an aberration, but is a normal outcome of social structural interactions and
From each of these viewpoints of postmodernist theory, it is senseless to
search for universalities, but one should rather expect (and celebrate) chance,
indeterminacy, spontaneity, irony, and the unexpected (Henry & Milovanovic,
The constitutive theorists vision of social structure would embrace a
contingently and provisionally-based humanistic vision of what could be, rather
than what is believed to be (Henry & Milovanovic, 1996). Constitutive theory is a
commentary on postmodern times, where social structure is a cluster of ideas and
images about order and its maintenance, yet it is necessary to analyze precisely
how those constructions of reality become real enough to harm, and strategize(s)
the ways to interrupt this process and to substitute for it less harmful
constructions (Henry & Milovanovic, 1996). Constitutive theory is about the
co-production of reality, using discursively formed signifiers, to examine the
existing reality and to produce the new negotiated structures, resolved in struggle,
alliances, bonding, agreement, consensus and articulations, between different and
infinitely plural social subjects (Bergesen, 1993, p. 17). Giddens (Giddens,
1984) argued, with his structuration theory, that
the structural properties of social systems are both medium and outcome
of the practices they recursively organize. Structure is not external to

individuals: as memory traces, and as instantiated in social practices, it is
in a certain sense more internal than exterior to their activities...
Structure is not to be equated with constraint but is always both
constraining and enabling.'' (p.25)
From these several theories of social structure, one can imagine how
discourse might construct a particular vision of social structural formation. Henry
et al. described how traditional means of conceptualizing modernist structures
might include societal level discourse and understanding (e.g., capitalistic systems
and logic, processes of material rationalization, rhetorical structures, figurative
expressions, common metaphors, cliches, and verbal mannerisms) that are all a
part of the social stock of knowledge (Berger & Luckmann, 1967). It would
also include intersubjective communication/ organizational processing, producing
signifiers for coordinated (commonly understood) action. Ongoing and
unconscious reconstructive discourse replete with tacit understandings (Henry
& Milovanovic, 1996) assist in establishing core meanings pre-constructed by
others. In addition, agents of organizations tend to reduce feedback
(contaminating and disruptive noise), which energizes and maintains existent
discursive explanations and assumptions. Lastly, organized action will defend
object-like representations of existing structures. In other words, structure and
actor are merely reflections of the other.
An alternative constitutive approach to conceptualizing social structures
would aim to liberate human potentialities, oppose the privileging of order and its
derivatives (e.g., power), de-identify with a social position, create new egalitarian
social relations, practices and institutions, and create provisional logics which tend
toward fragmentation and change (Henry & Milovanovic, 1996). From this
approach, components of a social structure would include a social formation
without equilibrium, provision of contingent and provisional stabilities to
assure intersubjective interaction, and subjects who de-identify with positions yet
who are within the boundaries of dynamic equilibrium and who can re-identify
with others (Henry & Milovanovic, 1996). This actor would theoretically co-
produce contingent universalities.

Co-production of social reality is not a reifying process in which
subordination prevails; rather it is a process where an open future is
negotiated with acknowledgment of conflict and the possibilities of
transcendence. (Henry & Milovanovic, 1996, p.71)
The discursive articulation of these ideas might be summarized as
structures whose primary functions are to promote adaptability (responsiveness
and change) rather than internal maintenance (motivation and control through
rules, regulations and systems) (Steiner, 1972). Communities who undertake
these forms of structure might better be defined as learning communities, for it
is the change from defensive postures (Argyris, 1990) of boundary maintenance
(McWhinney, 1996) to a plurality (Gardner, 1995b; Gozdz, 1995) which
transcends and accepts various forms of reality (McWhinney, 1996). Transitions to New Forms of Community
The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve
change amid order.
Alfred North Whitehead
An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted.
Arthur Miller, American dramatist
Michael Ray noted that getting to the next paradigm in postmodernism
will be difficult and painful (Ray, 1995) but that achievement is in the process of
building community. The provisional and uncertain structures of the postmodern
world, in which community is non-local, heterogeneous, unpredictable and
unstable, will not be acceptable to those whose resident beliefs about structure
revolve around internal maintenance or stability. William Bridges noted that It
isnt the changes that do you in, its the transitions... Change is
situational...Transition is the psychological process people go through to come to
terms with the new situation. Change is external, transition is internal. (Bridges,
1991, p.3). While some will continue to seek the old community, in which
bondedness and rootedness created semblances of stability, others will question

whether it ever existed, and most would refuse to forfeit the advances which have
led to the existing global world. However, without some larger purpose or
continuity, it is difficult to recognize the directionality of the change and the
intentionality of the self-organizing systems of chaos (Wheatley, 1992). It may
be important to recognize the existing assets of community that will move us
toward an emptiness (Peck, 1987) of expectation, through which community
can self-organize and become exploratory and responsive. Creation (and recognition) of Generative
Learning Communities
Only a human soul gifted with imagination has the resilient artistry to live
and work with forces that call for deeper strategies than
containment. "(Whyte, 1994)
Some would insist that real community already exists and that sculptors
are needed to hew away the rough walls (modernistic social structures) which
exist only mentally (Magaziner, 1995.) John Gardner suggested that community
may be found in four forms, those a) geographically coherent and bounded by
place, b) geographically coherent residential communities, but widely scattered
places of work, c) sites of common activity, such as work, worship, and
education, and d) dispersed communities in which neither residences nor work
sites are contiguous (Gardner, 1995b). Regardless of whether one believes they
exist (and need validation) or whether they need to be created, it is likely that new
forms of community need to be generative and based on a collective state of
consciousness (Goff, 1995).
When individuals realize that their well-being is linked inextricably with
the well-being of the whole, and they can see a way to develop the skills that
provide them with a functional capacity for interdependence, they will very
often begin to practice community building as a form of personal mastery.
(Goff, 1995, p.348).

Veltrop defined a Generative Learning Community (GLC) as a purposeful
community of learners committed to evolving themselves, their teams and
organizations in a way that best serves the common good (Veltrop, 1995). While
much has been written about learning organizations (Argyris, 1990; Morgan, 1993;
Senge, 1990; Wheatley, 1992), few essays have explicitly discussed the basic
elements which would make up a learning organization or a generative learning
community, and even fewer studies have been conducted to examine the
constructs important for defining the various forms or stages of community (Peck,
If one incorporates the components of a constitutive social structure, it
may be possible to define a GLC as that which contains 1) ambiguous structures,
2) shared contingent and provisional interactions (to transcend realities) and 3)
courageous actors who are able to promote the new structures with its disorder.
The ultimate goal of these structures would be to attain adaptability to the ever-
changing environment, and to promote the necessary assets for promoting equity
in resources and responsiveness to changing health and social needs. Based on
these loose categorizations of possible community social structures, one can
examine the observations and learnings from the field of organizational
development to create definitions and operationalizations of a GLC.
A review of the literature related to learning organizations and
organizational development yielded a significant cache of rich descriptions that
aptly fill out the above components of a GLC. Each of the three defined
components of a GLC can be summarized to provide a better understanding of a
learning community. The first component, ambiguous structures, are those
structures, spaces, community/ organizational architecture, and specified
opportunities that promote an incubation and incorporation of new ideas,
information, various perceived realities and practice as a learning laboratory
environment (Anderson & Klinge, 1995; Gozdz, 1995; Kellerman, 1984; Levy &
Levy, 1995; McWhinney, Webber, Smith, & Novokowsky, 1996; Senge, 1995;
Shipka, 1995; Veltrop, 1995). In concrete terms, these ambiguous structures may
exist as collaborative interactions and relationships, civic forums, citizen
participation in government, work teams for problem-solving, public/private

collaboration, formal training for youth, think tanks or incubation chambers for
new ideas, community-supported and supportive organizations and associations,
and most importantly, an explicit incorporation of diverse peoples, ideas and
perceived realities. These would not be traditional top-down strategies/ activities
for gaining support for existing ideas and values, but rather a set of structures
which emerged from the community need to interact, share learnings and create
new values or meaning.
The second component, shared contingent and provisional
interactions (to transcend realities) is the potential outcome from the
interaction of diverse peoples and ideas reflecting the philosophy of pluralism, a
collective consciousness or understanding, affirmation of common values or social
purpose, and a synthesis of meanings from multiple realities (Anderson & Klinge,
1995; Dixon, 1994; Gardner, 1995b; Gerard & Teurfs, 1995; Goff, 1995; Gozdz,
1995; Jarman & Land, 1995) (Lenz & Johnson-Lenz, 1995; Levy & Levy,
1995)McWhinney, 1996;(Ray, 1995; Senge, 1990; Weisbord, 1995). The derived
outcome from these common learnings might include a vision which is a working
document rather than a report, ideas and observations interjected by community
members whose existing activities had feedback loops, common purpose
resulting from organizational networks, interpersonal/ intergroup skills for
communication and dialogue, and an understanding, acknowledgement and
incorporation of diverse viewpoints or worldviews resulting from community
dialogue. This component of community interaction is similar to the framework
used in family therapy to create and maintain flexible and supportive structures
and emotional bomding among family members (Olson et al., 1983). The
importance of this GLC structural component is in the tangible processes which
serve to remind the community members that wholeness incorporating diversity
(Gardner, 1995b) is both the medium and the outcome of the practices
discursively organized (Giddens, 1984). It is likely that indications of this
component will be reflected in the narratives, myths, and stories (Polkinghorne,
1988) which emerge from the community literature and dialogue.
The third component of a GLC, courageous actors who are able to
promote the new structures, is also likely to be the process and product of the

structures oriented to adaptability and responsiveness. When a community
reaches a point of generative learning, it is more likely to promote members, both
young and old, who assume the responsibility to inquire into others assumptions
and advocate for new ideas, who can live with uncertainty and see the truth in
paradox, who have developed skills for interacting with compassion while guiding
the community toward a deeper understanding, who encourage participation and
growth among all community members, who invoke a spirit of learning without
defending self or community, and who incorporate and transcend the multiple
realities of the community and its residents (Dixon, 1994; Fleck, 1995; Gardner,
1995b; Gozdz, 1995; Jarman & Land, 1995; Lenz & Johnson-Lenz, 1995; Levy &
Levy, 1995; Magaziner, 1995; McWhinney et al., 1996; Ryan, 1995). However,
these same characteristics are also more likely to actively promote the inherent
structures of a GLC; it is difficult to hypothesize whether the structures promote
the courageous actors or vice-versa. A study assessing leadership capacity in ten
Colorado communities, conceived and developed by Halvorson and conducted by
Ciruli Associates for The Colorado Trust (Ciruli Associates & staff, 1996) found
that while all ten communities had substantial leadership capacity in their
volunteers, most communities experienced extreme factiousness among specific
segments of the community due to the denial of local issues, missing voices and
perspectives in problem-solving, and too-formal processes for local decision-
making. Many leadership models and theories may guide us in learning about
effective social actors. Stages of a Generative Learning Community
In addition to considering the three structural components of a GLC, it
would be useful to ascertain whether there is a continuum of generative learning
along which a community moves in phases of development. If so, there may be
some critical period of time in which the community practices learning prior to
moving to the frightful stage of ambiguous self-organizing. During this practice
period, the community may experiment with more or less ambiguous structures,
processes for promoting interaction and understanding, and development and/or

recognition of those leaders who promote interdependence and reflexivity.
Beverly Parsons, with funding from the Danforth Foundation, developed a paper
on Community-Based Systems Change in which she developed a matrix
indicating the behaviors inherent to a community in various stages along the
continuum to developing a systemic mode of operating (Parsons, 1996).
The ultimate gain from a GLC may be that the community is able to
achieve transformative, or third-order change, or the recognition that thinking
about a problem and solutions requires going beyond current views of reality or
logic (Bateson, 1972). Bateson defines first order change as that which occurs
with no change in meaning or logic, such as memorization and rote learning, and
basic skills for survival (e.g., walking, eating, reading). These changes are basic
pattern-forming and occur through trial and error and also observation. Second-
order change involves new contexts, such as new ideas, concepts or mental
constructs. This type of change would include organizing, labeling, and
restructuring, all acts that usually can be accomplished within a given perception
of reality. McWhinney (McWhinney, 1992) describes third-order change as
learning to work from spaces beyond our habitual bondage, or the awareness
induced by exposure to the beliefs/ behaviors of persons from another worldview.
McWhinney (1992) also notes that Batesons third-order learning leads to a
transcendence of the various worldviews for a holistic outcome, in which all
differences in perspective have disappeared. McWhinneys use of meta-praxis,
(1992) or moving out of ones own construction of reality and entering into a
dialogue with multiple realities to reframe ones own and others experience in
alternative frameworks, provides for a systematic way of using the differences,
and allows the freedom and space in which to choose the realities required for
resolving conflicts (p. 132).
McWhinney develops this meta-praxis through a theory of change which
reflects the various realities and divergent modes of operating existent among
human beings. (McWhinney, 1992; McWhinney, McCulley, Webber, Smith, &
Novokowsky, 1993; McWhinney et ah, 1996). McWhinney describes the two
major directions of change as those of conventionalizing and differentiating, or
toward or away from existing symbols of realities (also can be noted as monistic

and pluralistic). Beliefs about the origins of change exist as either natural or
external conditions (deterministic) or intentional acts of free will (volitional). Each
of these principles about change (directionality, origin) produces in humans a
worldview, or sense of reality about the world. McWhinneys typology of the
worldviews, derived from the scores of the Reality Inquiry self-assessment tool
(McWhinney et al., 1993), includes Unitary, Mythic, Sensory and Social
perspectives, which in turn elicit operational modes of change (McWhinney,
From the development of these modes of change, McWhinney formalized
a framework for understanding and creating transformative rather than
transactional change; he called these paths of change the Renaissance Path and
the Revitalization Path (McWhinney, 1992.) These methods of resolution differ
in their path toward differentiating or conventionalizing. Revitalization
(conventionalizing) is a top-down strategy which begins with the belief that the
foundational principles (i.e., vision, values) of the entity (e.g., organization,
community) are adequate or correct, and that there needs to be a rearticulation of
those principles and gaining of commitment from the members. This is usually
accomplished through some sort of training or indoctrination (e.g., TQM, quality
circles, strategic planning), and the refined structure and commitment is celebrated
through the adoption of new symbols, titles and organizational forms. The
revitalization usually requires that the entity purge itself of dissonant ideas and
activities to invoke more order and consonance within the organization. The
communitys culture is revitalized and new myths are created. These new myths
are sold through the new modes of operation, and the organization/ community
returns to its daily business.
In contrast, the Renaissance Path begins when persons in an organization
or community sense that there is no longer meaning in its efforts. This Path of
transformation embodies the journey of death and rebirth experienced in the
Navajo Pollen Path, Jonahs journey in the belly of the Whale, Ulysses epic
voyage, and Jesus return to Jerusalem for crucifixion and redemption
(McWhinney, 1992). This differentiating path begins when the basic principles
are no longer appropriate and calls for the death of the system and search for new

meaning. The journey starts with removing the old structures and processes that
no longer make sense, and mourning their demise. New meanings are creating by
the membership through broad-based, inclusive exercises (e.g., Visioning, Future
Search), new images are created that reflect the new meanings and values, and new
policies and structures are developed that express the new meanings. A new
organization or community is generated which has theoretically dealt with some of
the core issues which led to the loss of meaning/ vision in the first place. These
two Paths of Change have been used extensively in organizations dealing with
difficult issues (McWhinney, 1996). The Revitalization Path is best used when
the upper management is not willing to inspire new values or structures to resolve
problems, or when the existing values or structures are adequate for the changes
which need to occur. The Renaissance Path is chosen, or stumbled upon, when
the threats are great enough to require deep restructuring to reorganize. There
have been fewer studies about how the Paths, and their variants, are used in
community for solving complex social issues. The Role of Courageous Actors in a Generative
Learning Community
Courage is about the choices one makes when everything is uncertain,
amid personal danger, social distress, and lives and a world that have lost
meaning. Courage is also about acting when there is no reality that we can
assuredly accept.
(McWhinney, 1996, p.224)
Courage is the most important ingredient in meta-praxis, in creating new
meanings, in invoking new structures and processes, in starting down the paths of
change. The courage required for change varies with each situation, depending on
the difficulty of the social problem, the support provided by the structures and
processes, and the willingness of community members to hang out in ambiguous
space. Ultimate courage comes from being threatened neither by the loss of
onself nor by the loss of ones world (Tillich, 1952, p. 12) the internal places

for Renaissance and third-order change. But it also requires a human
consciousness of the alternatives and the personal fortitude to assert one.
Perhaps some styles of leadership are more conducive to demonstrating
personal courage in the ambiguous structures of a GLC. McWhinney and others
(Bennis & Nanus, 1985; Burns, 1978) have shown that the most effective leaders
are those who are able to transcend their own personal style to accommodate (and
benefit from) the styles of others.
A review of the literature on leadership yielded a significant overview of
the various theories about the topic. The Trait and Behavior theories (Stogdill &
Coons, 1957) were spawned in the early 1900s and were dismissed mid-century
with little empirical support for their role in leadership effectiveness.
Contingency theories, which developed around beliefs of exchange processes
available for complexity of task, level of support from subordinates/ members, and
leader legitimation (Bass & Valenzie, 1974; Fiedler & Chemers, 1974; Haythom,
Couch, Haefner, Langham, & Carter, 1956; Hollander & Julian, 1970; Hunt &
Osborn, 1982; Katz & Kahn, 1978; Mintzberg, 1973; Sims, 1977; Stewart, 1982;
Strube & Garcia, 1981; Vroom & Yetton, 1973; Weed, Mitchell, & Moffitt, 1976),
were primarily based upon outcomes of efficiency and productivity rather than
quality or value.
Feminist theories resulted from the discourse surrounding the feminist
movement, and suggested that relational styles of female interaction promote a
greater capacity for nurturing, supportive leadership than do male styles (Alpert,
1973; Carroll, 1984; Hartsock, 1981; Rosen, 1984; Rothschild, 1976; Sapiro,
1981). Theories of Symbolic Authority, evolved from Freudian psychology,
suggest that values of culture are internalized through models of socialization, and
that leaders utilize this symbolic authority to promote normative behaviors and to
work for the collective good (Hill, 1984). Fairly intuitive theories related to
Cultural Leadership suggest that various systems have evolved as a product of and
means for the economic and resource distribution systems (Rosen, 1984) and
related to the cultural expectations for leader behavior (Ayman & Chemers, 1983).
Similarly, Political theories related to leadership suggest that leaders are a product
of the setting (e.g., culture, community, discourse) and the role expectations (e.g.,

tasks, values, personality) inflicted upon her/him by the electorate (Barber, 1977;
Bums, 1978; Dahl, 1961; Erikson, 1958; Greenstein, 1969; Kellerman, 1984;
Laswell, 1930).
The theories related to Social Construction of Reality (e.g., Attribution
theory) suggest that leaders are merely reflections/ mirrors of society, and the
attributes of leadership are conferred and socially legitimated through preexisting
schemata and institutionalized display of rituals (Calder, 1977; Cooley, 1909;
House, 1976; Hunt, 1984a; Hunt, 1984b; Lepper, Zanna, & Abelson, 1970; Mead,
1934; Pfeffer, 1978; Pondy, 1966; Schank, 1975; Simmel, 1950; Weber, 1921). To
reflect this sentiment, Pondy (1966) noted that leadership is a residual category
to which personal responsibility is assigned for events which would otherwise be
unexplainable because they are, in fact, merely the point of focus in a dynamic
stream of interactive and complex social factors.
Human Developmental theories, conversely, suggest that specific human
development occurs which provides a leader the capacity to transcend self and
work for the good of the whole and to further development of those around
her/him (Kegan, 1982; Kegan & Lahey, 1984; Levinson, 1978; Torbert, 1976).
Organizational theories similarly propose that leaders are those who are able to
promote deep learning, adaptability, accountability to a larger self, non-
defensiveness, stewardship/ partnership, and personal and organizational growth
through taking risks and experimenting with ambiguity (Argyris, 1990; Block,
1993; Kouzes & Posner, 1987; Kouzes & Posner, 1993; Morgan, 1993; Senge,
1990; Terry, 1993).
In sum, it may be possible to test which of these leadership styles, or mix
of styles, or ability to transcend the styles, may best promote a Generative
Learning Community for solving health and social problems. The Role of Social Networks
Cochran et al. (Cochran et al., 1990) suggested that the modernization of
society and the mobility and transience of relationships associated with the real
constraints of our lives has created for each of us subcultural networks. These

personal communities which we create are useful to us for survival and
existence, but also for human development purposes. Multiplexity and overall
size of our networks predict the network reserve available to each of us as we
attempt to endure life stage and circumstance, or the developmental press of our
lives. With limited reserve, as is often the case for those who are less educated, of
lower socioeconomic status, younger, single parents, and of ethnic minority,
adults are less able to maintain their own nurturing needs, much less that of their
children. In most instances, approximately half of a parents network will change
over a short period of time, though the total number of ties and resource
richness will likely remain the same. This has enormous significance for the
networks of children, whose networks mirror those of their mothers. Adult
relatives and non-kin are varyingly critical for different stages of child and youth
development, and therefore these types of relationships are important for both
parent and child through her/his subsequent stages of development. While more
educated and economically stable families tend to have a multitude of both kinds
of relationships (kin and non-kin), less educated and poorer families have fewer
ties, depending on their cultural values about relationships, the extent and nature
of their employment, and the kind of neighborhood in which they live.
Cochran et al. suggested that social policies could remove the structural
constraints in which individuals live (i.e., income, education, job type,) and are
crippling to development of adequate social networks. Families would be
encouraged to invest in their neighborhoods, neighboring would be more likely to
take place, and children would be reared with greater sensitivity. These social
policies could also create structural incentives for youth that need positive
opportunities for acting as resources in their community and for creating social
networks outside their families that promote youth development. These policies
would also include reinforcing the naturally occurring social systems used by
families and communities to build on strengths and channel social behavior, such
as social networks of personal relationships, the workplace, the neighborhood,
religious community, and the school. These intermediary systems could be the
targets for social interventions to support family life and promote healthy

1.4.2 Community Initiatives to Promote Health and Well-being
Community initiatives have evolved dramatically over the lifespan of
community organizing and health promotion activities at the community level.
While early community organizing or community development work was
predominantly focused on economic development, long viewed as different than
the purview of community health, health promotion strategies began to assume
the principles of community organizing through citizen involvement and inclusion
in planning local strategies. Community-based Health Promotion
Several frameworks (Belsky, 1980; Bronfenbrenner, 1977; McLeroy,
Bibeau, Steckler, & Glanz, 1988; Thompson & Kinne, 1990) have identified
multilevel strategies (i.e., individual, family, social and cultural influences) as
important for promoting behavior change, though not adequately addressing
economic inequities, discrimination, genetics, toxic exposures, unemployment and
other sources of influence. While more encompassing in their emphases on
interconnections, the frameworks still focused on individual behavior change.
Many of the community-based health promotion projects in the U.S.
were spawned from the above multilevel frameworks and from the early
sociopolitical movements designed to promote individual involvement in decision-
making primarily related to social issues (Alinsky, 1946; Friere, 1970). The
Stanford, Minnesota, and Pawtucket cardiovascular disease prevention programs
(Blackburn et al., 1984; Farquhar et ah, 1984; Lasater et ah, 1984), funded through
the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), attempted to change
some of the predeterminants of health behavior, such as individual empowerment
and community development, based on these community participation models.
However, individual-level risk factors were still the primary foci for change rather
than environmental, institutional, or economic conditions. Similarly, the early
Healthy Cities movement in Europe attempted to promote personal behavior

change within a broader context (Ashton, Grey, & Barnard, 1986). More recently,
the Center for Disease Controls PATCH projects (Planned Approach to
Community Health) (Kreuter, 1992) and the National Cancer Institutes
COMMIT (Community Intervention Trial) (COMMIT Research Group, 1995)
utilized similar community organizing techniques to promote externally-
imposed desired health outcomes.
Each of these community-based projects attempted to alter community
norms by delivery of messages and programs through social channels (i.e., media
and community-wide events, health care providers, worksites and other
organizations, volunteers, health-related resources); the underlying philosophy
was that community influence would change individual health risk behaviors by
addressing norms and attitudes. However, the programs often did not alter the
systemic causes of the risk behavior, most often did not create sanctioned
community norms (e.g., policy) because of the difficulty in attaining consensus to
do so, did not promote ownership of the programs among the targeted community
members but instead created organizational collaboratives which promoted
turfism (White & Wehlage, 1995), and did not provide adequate alternatives for
changing the behavior.
Results from the NHLBI studies showed significant reductions in some
risk factors (e.g., smoking, blood pressure) and in coronary heart disease mortality
among sub-populations, and COMMIT found a modest but significant reduction
in smoking prevalence among the lighter-smoker cohort. While these effects are
important, these studies did not adequately engage all of the elements of a social
action effort important to successful outcomes, either in the form of increased
capacity or effective long-term community solutions. Comprehensive Community Initiatives
Comprehensive community initiatives are not new, and their roots can be
traced throughout the twentieth century to the fight against juvenile delinquency in
the 1950s, the War on Poverty in the 1960s, and the community development
corporation movement of the last 30 years (Halpem, 1994). The current evolution