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The Communication Ecology of 21st Century Urban Communities

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Edited By Yong-Chan Kim, Matthew D. Matsaganis, Holley A. Wilkin and Joo-Young Jung

The Communication Ecology of 21st Century Urban Communities addresses the questions of whether it (still) matters what neighborhood individuals live in and if it is still necessary and possible for city dwellers to build and maintain place-based communities.

The book’s contributors address how urban communities are formed, reformed, and transformed from a communication infrastructure theory perspective. Through the lens of this theory, communication is defined as a fundamental social process by which cities are sustained and changed over time. The chapters in this book elaborate the theoretical and methodological frameworks of the communication infrastructure theory approach; articulate theory-driven and multi-method frameworks for the study of the city; and speak to pressing, contemporary, research- and policy-related challenges (or questions).

The broad array of issues addressed within this volume is expected to draw the interest not only of communication researchers and professionals, but also of students, scholars, practitioners, and policymakers from a variety of backgrounds and with an interest in different aspects of life in the city, including: public health, technology, civic engagement, and urban planning and design.

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Chapter Six: Examining the Links between Church and Local Community Engagement: The Case of Korean Immigrants in Los Angeles (Minhee Son)

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CHAPTER SIX

Examining the Links Between Church and Local Community Engagement

The Case of Korean Immigrantsin Los Angeles

MINHEE SON

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Southern California



Although religious participation can have various positive effects on individuals’ quality of life, the current literature presents mixed findings on the role of ethnic churches in bridging the ethnic community and the host society. Particularly lacking are empirical studies that identify the everyday practices of immigrants in their church contexts and how those practices, which I will call church engagement, influence immigrants’ community and civic experiences at the local level. In this chapter, I exemplify how communication infrastructure theory (CIT) can be adapted to develop a model for church engagement and empirically assess the relationship between Korean immigrants’ church engagement and their local community engagement. This study takes on the task of delineating some of the important communication challenges and opportunities that religious organizations face in 21st century multiethnic Los Angeles (Chávez & Ball-Rokeach, 2008; Wilson, 2001).

Drawing upon relevant literature, I first present two competing views on the relationship between immigrants’ church engagement and local civic engagement. Second, I explain how this research problem can be addressed using CIT. Specifically, the theory is applied in the development of a model for church engagement ← 107 | 108 → that extends CIT’s measurements of community engagement (i.e., belonging, collective efficacy, and civic participation) to a religious organizational context....

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