Linking the Levels: Network and Relational Perspectives for Community Psychology

  • Neal J
  • Christens B
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Abstract

In this article, we assert that relationships and networks are of paramount importance for understanding and improving settings, neighborhoods, communities, and larger social systems. Despite previous acknowledgements of their relevance, relational and social network perspectives and analyses remain underrepresented in community psychological research and action. Here, we claim that network and relational perspectives can provide conceptual and empirical 'links' between levels of analysis, more fully reflecting a transactional view. We also describe some of the sophisticated methodologies that can be employed in empirical studies drawing on these perspectives. Additionally, we contend that core concepts in community psychology such as health promotion, empowerment, coalition building, and dissemination and implementation can be better understood when employing relational and network perspectives. As an introduction to this special issue of American Journal of Community Psychology, we draw out themes and key points from the articles in the issue, and offer recommendations for future advancement of these perspectives in the field.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Ecological systems theory
  • Relational perspectives
  • Social networks

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