Community Immersion Experience
University of Southern California
Policy and Practice in Social Service Organizations
Mike Jackson, PhD
September 27, 2011
In many social work programs the concept of community immersion is an important aspect of their program and beneficial to the students. The University of Southern California (USC) and its School of Social Work is no exception to this training, thus community immersion is a mandatory requirement for accepted students. Community immersion gives students the opportunity to explore the idea of community and concepts of community. Netting, Kettner, and McMurtry (2008) define community as “that combination of social units and systems that perform the major social functions relevant to meeting people’s needs on a local level” (p. 130). People live in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and across many countries as a result, people’s residences are diverse and vary in location; thus, social workers must be aware of the types of communities that exist in societies. Geographical, identification and interest, and collective relationships of an individual are different types of communities social workers may encounter and provide social services. Netting et al. (2008) state, a geographical community is a place that meets people’s needs for sustenance, such as neighborhoods and cities; communities of identification and interest (functional communities) are a nongeographic community based on identification and interest for example, religious groups or ethnicity (p. 131-133). Last, a community based on collective relationships of an individual is a type of community that offers importance and meaning to an individual’s identity; for example, professional colleagues and personal friends give meaning to one’s identity (Netting et al., 2008, p.133). From the different types of community mentioned, the City of Compton will be analyzed from a geographical community perspective; in addition, systems theory complements the type of community Compton portrays, this theory helps one understand a macro (large-scale) approach to Compton. Systems theory contends multiple parts exist of any entity (may represent a group or a community) and entities are systems with interconnecting components, such as an international corporation or a family (Netting et al., 2008, p. 11). Furthermore, “a system is a set of elements that are orderly an interrelated to make a functional whole” (Zastro & Kirst-Ashman, 2010, p. 21). During the community immersion, it was noticeable that Compton had multiple parts to existing entities that have an interrelated relationship for Compton to function as a whole. For example, representing the City Council was Dr. Willie Jones, Councilman District 4, who spoke to one’s group at city hall. He stated public safety, economic development, and partnering with the local schools for the benefit of youth in Compton were his priorities. In regard, to systems theory Dr. Jones, public safety, economic development, and partnering with schools are all interconnected systems that work as a whole to serve the people in the community, but Compton also relies on and need outside resource entities, such as state and federal funds. Social workers must understand communities and the interrelated relationship that exists between people and their community. This notion is important to social workers because, at some point or another, throughout their career one will encounter a large-scale intervention is the best route to a needed or a problem in the community (Netting et al., 2008, p. 3). To implement macro intervention social workers need to grasp the community’s history, beliefs, ethics, and values. This paper will briefly examine Compton through a general description of the community immersion, community structure, and community characteristics. General Description of the Immersion Community
The City of Compton fits the...
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