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Family Communication in South LA: Factors that Promote Well-Being and Civic Engagement

Understanding family communication is important for any organization  trying to reach residents. Residents rely on their families for advice, to connect to local organizations and services, and for help in times of need.

In this section, we would like to share some of our family-related findings from our most recent survey based in the South LA area and some additional interview research. The focus is on family communication as a vital factor for the health and well-being of residents.

Family communication consists of conversations between family members that occur throughout the day, such as at the dinner table or while taking part in activities. Different types of families communicate in different ways, and this perspective does not privilege one type of family arrangement over any other. Yet, some types of families do, of course, face greater challenges.

Civic Engagement

The more communicative a family is, the more civically engaged they are. Residents who live in a communicative family are more likely to attend city council meetings, circulate petitions, write letters to the local newspaper editor, and participate in political demonstrations.

  • Applying this Research Finding: This research suggests a strong relationship between families that communicate with each other and families that get involved in local issues. This has several implications for practice.

    • If you are looking to get folks involved in a cause, you might try to seek out the participation of families as a unit instead of focusing just on individual family members. If they communicate as a family, chances are they will participate as a family.  

    • If you are looking to improve civic engagement generally, you might try to promote more communication among families. Encourage local residents and those who you work with at your organization to make time for conversations and discussions with their family members. This can improve the strength of the family unit and of the broader community.

Single-parent Families

Single parents talk to their children for about the same amount of time as do people in two-parent families. However, compared to other residents, single parents find it more difficult to connect to resources for medical care, and are more reliant on local organizations that provided social services to families and children.

  • Applying this Research Finding: This research suggests that single parents face specific issues related to their comunication connections as opposed to folks in two-parent families. Here is a potential way you might put these findings into practice.

    • In your outreach to single parents, focus on the organizational aspect of the storytelling network. Since they seem to connect to organizations that provide family services more often than do others, these organizations offer a place to interface with single parents in the neighborhood


Return to the findings page.

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