Community Immersion Usc

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SOWK 543- Fall 2012
Assignment #1: Community Immersion

Joseph Gossner
9/25/12
Stephanie Carter

Abstract

The purpose of this research paper is to compare and contrast two smaller sub-communities that are encompassed by the larger community of Santa Maria, California. This paper will promote the beliefs and theories of modern Social Workers, and address the resources and needs of the two communities in question. The compilation of this paper was derived from research that was conducted through interactions and exposure to the residents of these two communities, in conjunction with, interviews and site visits to several community organizations, recreational facilities, and areas of worship. Upon completion of this paper, the reader will possess a clear depiction of the two communities, their similarities and differences, and the resources and needs of the communities.

A City Split in Two
Several different scholars and researchers have defined the term community in many different ways. The definition is always closely related to their field of study, and enhances the term to encompass their beliefs and/or theory. Many of these definitions contain key concepts and are closely related in definition. The most common definition of community is, “that combination of social units and systems that that perform the major social functions relevant to meeting people’s needs on a local level” (Waren 1978). The construct of a community occurs when a population of people “form a social unit based on common location, interest, identification, culture and/or activities” (Fellin 2001). Communities are not solely based on a geographical location and may be comprised of members sharing the same identifications and interest. Some examples of these types of communities may be; communities based on sexual orientation, gender, religious affiliation, or past experiences. This research paper will examine communities that are based upon their geographical location. Further influences will include the; predominate socioeconomic status, cultural influences, and relation to the supra-system or city. For the purpose of this study, I will be using the Systems Theory of Communities to compare, contrast, and inter-relate the focal Systems (communities of interest), to their sub systems and supra system (City of Santa Maria, California). The use of the System Theory, will demonstrate the relation of the various systems and the importance of the available resources to the communities, and how the community functions as a whole. From a Social Work perspective, it is important to understand the community as a whole, and be aware of the internal resources available to the community. Possessing the knowledge of the available resources provides the social worker with the necessary tools that he/she may need to assist the members of the community. The Social Worker will then be able to use the internal resources of the community to achieve the goals of the people or the community as a whole. The Social Worker is an advocate for their clients and understanding the community will assist the Social Worker in enhancing the wellbeing of the individuals and community as a whole. Identify the name and, general location of the community or neighborhood

This paper will be focused on two subsystems of Santa Maria, California. The focal systems of this paper are the neighborhoods of northwest Santa Maria, known as “North Park” and southern, Santa Maria, which is known as “Orcutt”. Geographical boundaries of the community/neighborhood.

Santa Maria is a city located in Santa Barbara County, in Southern California. It is approximately 120 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The city of Santa Maria has a total area of 22.4 square miles, of which, 21.8 square miles of it is land and 0.6 square miles of it is water. The population of Santa Maria is 100,062 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). North Park is located on the northern most area of Santa Maria. The...
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