It look's like you don't have Adobe Flash Player installed. Get it now.
KSMU Sense of Community feature Thursday afternoon, June 25th.
For KSMU, I’m Mike Smith. This afternoon as we continue our Sense of Community Series on what it means to have a good neighbor, we hear from Mike Stout, Assistant Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminology at Missouri State University.
Stout, along with Sociology Professors Tim Knapp and John Harms, has just in the last few months put together a summary of key findings of a report completed in May 2008. Mike Stout says some of those findings tie in closely to the Sense of Community series of reports you are hearing on KSMU this week. “We’re doing the study in partnership with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks who releases their bi-annual community report card. The title of the project is the “Springfield/Greene County Social Capital Survey Report”. It’s a study that looks at peoples interactions with their neighbors and other people in the community and how those things are related to the overall ways the area is structured in terms of networks of people and voluntary associations. We have been looking at patterns of civic engagement, quality of life and how much people like living in the Springfield/Greene County area. We had a series of questions related to trusting shop owners, local police, news media and your neighbors”.
There were 800 respondents to the survey. The question “How much do you trust the people in your neighborhood” had a scale 1 to 5. 1 indicated no trust at all. 5 translated to the highest level of trust. Mike Stout says “Of the people who responded to that question, 90% of respondents said they either trust their neighbors somewhat or trust them a lot. That’s about 10% higher than the national average. One thing I should point out are the differences. Just like any capital, the idea of social capital as a resource…it’s a recourse that gets divided up depending on certain characteristics of individuals and communities. So people who tend to have lower levels of income and education have lower levels of trust in their neighbors. 83% of respondents with a high school education or less say they trust their neighbors. The difference becomes even more pronounced when it comes to income levels. 99% of respondents who make over $100,000 say they trust their neighbors while only 81% of respondents who make $20,000 or less say they trust their neighbors. It should be noted though with 81% of people at the poverty level still saying they trust their neighbors, that’s still a healthy indicator of how interconnected people fell with others in their community”.
Mike Stout says “The Springfield /Greene County Social Capital Survey Report shows 57% of respondents talk to their immediate neighbors at least several time a week. People say in general that they’re happy to be living here, that they trust their neighbors, that they interact with their neighbors on a regular basis. They tend to have larger social networks in terms of numbers and diversity than the rest of the country. A great number of respondents take part in church activities, veterans groups and other social networks. All those things seem to suggest that we should have high levels of civic engagement and political participation, but there’s a disconnect there from what the national trends look like and what Greene County looks like”. Mike Stout says people tend to be less civically engaged here compared to the national average even though they have all these high levels of social connectivity to the community. “We asked questions dealing with how effective they think any attempt they made to try to influence the political process here would be, or any attempt they made to try to make the place a better place to live. What we found was high levels of what we call political alienation where they don’t feel like the political leadership would recognize any effort on their part to make it a better place to live. As a result they don’t get into the active political or community oriented activities as much as they do leisure type activities. 24% of respondents said they had cooperated in the last 12 months to fix a community problem while the national average is 35%. Almost 40% of national respondents said they worked on a community project in the last year. 23% of local respondents said they did. We’re going to do a second wave of this study coming up in the spring of 2010. Once we start getting more data points, we can look at why these trends are happening and start comparing the local trends to the nation and similar sized communities to see what the discrepancies look like.