Suzie S. Weng1
1Univ. North Florida, Dep. Sociology, Anthropology, & Social Work, Estados Unidos
With the growth of the Asian American population in the Southern region of the United States, mainstream and Asian American community must be aware of both informal and formal supports that are available for the population in order to effectively address needs and allocate resources. This community-based project identified informal and mainstream support that is available to an Asian American community using asset mapping. The asset-based community development framework was used in which the capacities of the local people and their associations are recognized to be essential in building a more powerful community, to helping a community be more self-sustaining, and to developing better relationships among entities. This study provides an inventory of community assets that otherwise may have been ignored and thus has the potential to contribute to a better functioning Asian American community in Jacksonville, Florida. 719 assets were identified as available potential resources for members of the Asian American community with a majority as formal resources. Of the informal assets, a majority are organizations. In general, formal resources are centralized, whereas informal resources are more evenly distributed throughout the city. These results can contribute to the establishment of more culturally accessible services and utilization of services.
Con el crecimiento de la población asiático-americana en el sur de Estados Unidos, tanto la sociedad mayoritaria como la propia comunidad asiático-americana deben ser conscientes de los apoyos formales e informales que están disponibles para la población, con el fin de abordar de manera efectiva las necesidades y asignar recursos adecuadamente. Este proyecto comunitario recurrió al mapeo de activos para identificar los apoyos informales y generales que están disponibles para la comunidad asiático-americana. Se utilizó el modelo de desarrollo comunitario basado en activos, en el que las capacidades de la población local y sus asociaciones son fundamentales en la construcción de una comunidad más poderosa, más autosuficiente, al mismo tiempo que facilitan mejores relaciones entre las entidades. Este estudio proporciona un inventario de activos comunitarios que de otro modo serían ignorados, contribuyendo a un mejor funcionamiento de la comunidad asiático-americana en Jacksonville, Florida. Se identificaron 719 activos, como recursos potenciales para dicha población, en su mayoría de carácter formal. De los activos informales, la mayoría son organizaciones. En general, los recursos formales están centralizados mientras que los recursos informales se distribuyen de manera más uniforme en toda la ciudad. Estos resultados pueden contribuir a la creación de servicios culturalmente más accesibles y a la utilización de los mismos.
Informal support networks within Asian American communities are being developed in localities like Jacksonville, Florida, in the Southern region of the United States because the population is on the rise and ethnic communities have been shown to develop their own network for meeting the needs of its members. When Asian Americans settled in the traditional gateway cities like New York and San Francisco, previous settlers who had come before had incrementally built a network of support that newcomers could readily access. But for localities in the South where the Asian American population has historically been low, the need for the resources to develop the support network may not have been identified. Such a network is important for many Asian Americans because Asians traditionally grow up in extended families and are born into natural support systems where they can turn for help in times of need. In today's migratory climate where individuals move from one country to another or relocate within a particular country, the natural familial support system can no longer be counted on. Therefore, to meet their needs wherever they settle, they must establish or join a network of support.
Asset mapping is a resourceful way to locate the network of support that has valuable community resources and can contribute to the overall development of a community ( Dorfman, 1998). Griffin and Farris (2010) define assets as individuals who offer skills, citizen associations that link individuals together to achieve common goals, and institutions such as hospitals, businesses, local government, and social service agencies. Essentially, a list of assets that are available to a target population are compiled. The resources are then laid out by location on a map of the community using mapping software such as Geographic Information System (GIS). An asset map emphasizes the relational aspects of resources available in the community.
This study uses the asset-based community development (ABCD) framework to identify formal and informal social service resources available to the Asian American community in Jacksonville, Florida ( Kretzmann & McKnight, 1993 ). Formal services are provided by the mainstream and available to all individuals. Research suggests that, in their attempt to resolve problems, Asian Americans tend to first turn to their family for help, then to the rest of their informal support network ( Uba, 1993 ). Therefore, informal resources must also be examined. According to Mathie and Cunningham (2005) , “ABCD stresses the key role played by mainstream and informal associations, networks and extended families at the community level, and by the social relationships that connect local initiatives to external windows of opportunity” (p. 181). The identification of assets helps communities to discover an inventory of community resources that may be unrealized or unknown. Given the inattention to the relationship aspects of community building among Asian Americans, the study of asset mapping is important because it offers a fuller explanation of help-seeking behavior. Through making these assets known to the community, they become more accessible and have the potential to contribute to a better functioning community. The framework assumes a strengths perspective in acknowledging that the assets can contribute to community building and solving community problems.Background Changing demographics
Asian Americans account for approximately 4.9% of the total United States population, or 15.6 million individuals ( U.S. Census Bureau, 2013 ). With an increase of about 43% from 2000 to 2010, Asian Americans were the fastest growing racial group in the country. The group is projected to reach 40.6 million individuals by the year 2050, equaling a 262% increase. In the Southern United States where 22.3% of Asian Americans reside in 2013, there was a 76% increase from 1990 to 2000, and another 72% increase between 2000 and 2010. The 2010 census indicated that 454,821 Asian Americans were living in Florida, a 72% increase from 2000. Out of Florida's Asian American population, 35,222 individuals, or 7.7%, are living in Jacksonville. Jacksonville's Asian American population experienced a 324% increase from 1980 to 1990, 105% increase from 1990 to 2000, and a 47% increase from 2000 to 2010. The growth of the Asian American population will likely result in a greater demand for resources.
The 2010 census also noted 61.6% of Asian Americans are foreign born, with 62.7% of those having arrived in the last two decades. The potential stressors for immigrants have been well documented (e.g. Behnia, 2007 ). Newcomers to the United States tend to experience stressors from the cultural transition process such as language, adaptation, social support, and finance challenges as well as other conflicts between their cultural heritage and new culture ( Min, Moon, & Lubben, 2005 ). Refugees, for example, tend to suffer from lack of adequate support systems in the country of resettlement ( Behnia, 2007 ). While formal services are used by many refugees, the resources often cease within a short period of the refugees’ arrival in the United States ( Patrick, 2004).Service underutilization
Aggregated data show Asian Americans to outperform other racial and ethnic groups in education, income, and general well-being, which has contributed to the model minority myth that all Asian Americans do not need social services; however, stratified data of its subgroups demonstrate that some groups are in desperate need of services. Both clinical and community sample studies have uniformly reported high prevalence rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety among Southeast Asian American refugees (e.g. Barreto & Segal, 2005). According to the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (2005) , 53% of Hmong, 40% of Cambodian, 32% of Laotian, and nearly one fifth of Samoans, Pakistanis, Vietnamese, Tongans, and Thai Americans in California lived below the poverty line. Tanjasiri, Wallace, and Shibata (1995) found 13% of Asian American elders, compared to 1% of European American elders have had no formal education. Ayyub (2000) found one out of four South Asian immigrant women have experienced domestic abuse. And finally, elderly Chinese American women are 10 times more likely to commit suicide than elderly European American women ( Browne & Broderick, 1994 ). Despite the need, Asian Americans underutilize mainstream services due to various linguistic, cultural, economic, systemic, structural, governmental, and informational barriers to accessing services ( Weng, 2013).
Yet another explanation for Asian American underutilization of mainstream services may be due to their preference for informal support that includes family members, friends, neighbors, places of worship, or the ethnic community ( Lau, Machizawa, & Doi, 2012 ). Social psychology literature shows that when people are faced with a problem, they turn to their own informal networks as the main source of help, rather than to formal organizations ( Litwak, Messeri, & Silverstein, 1990 ). Prior to migration, individuals are likely to be near family and grow up in a natural support system. After migration, Asian Americans who no longer can count on their natural support system due to geographical distance, may develop their own informal social support network to meet their needs.Social support
Social support are often provided in an informal network that contributes to the wellbeing of its members ( Weng, 2013 ). The literature on social support is widely available across a range of disciplines that include social work, sociology, psychology, psychiatry, medicine, nursing, and communications. House (1981) maintains there are four types of support within social support: (1) emotional support (expressions of empathy, love, trust, and caring); (2) instrumental support (tangible aid and services); (3) informational support (advice, suggestions, and information); and (4) appraisal support (information that is useful for self-evaluation). Research on social support shows a strong relationship with health and well-being in different cultures and contexts. Research confirms that individuals who receive high levels of social support experience better health and well-being ( Fratiglioni, Wang, Ericsson, Maytan, & Winblad, 2000 ); recover faster from illness ( Lang, 2001 ); demonstrate healthier coping strategies during times of adversity ( Cohen, Gottlieb, & Underwood, 2000 ); and better adjust to stressful events ( Gilbar, 2005). Beiser, Turner, and Ganesan (1989) reported that emotional and social support derived from persons of the same ethnicity moderated depressive symptoms among Southeast Asian refugees by enhancing a sense of identity and belongingness. Social support among ethnic minorities was also found to alleviate stress resulting from discrimination immigrants experience ( Noh & Kaspar, 2003 ). Higher levels of social support have been associated with enhanced use of preventive services ( Kang & Bloom, 1993 ) and decreased morbidity and mortality ( Waxler-Morrison, Hislop, Mears, & Kan, 1991 ).
Research has explored individuals in different cultural contexts and issues related to informal support networks. In the west, informal social support networks have been shown to be important resources for surviving disasters ( Kaniasty, Norms, & Murrell, 1990 ); accessing information (Granovetter, 1973 ); influencing socioeconomic status ( Campbell, Marsden, & Hurlbert, 1986 ); attaining psychological and emotional well-being ( O’Brien, Hassinger, & Dershem, 1994 ); maintaining health (Haines & Hurlbert, 1992 ); and obtaining emotional and material support ( Wellman & Wortley, 1990 ). Previous studies of elderly Chinese people show that a larger network size such as more children and close relatives is associated with a greater amount of available support and fewer depressive symptoms ( Lam & Boey, 2005 ). Informal social support networks have also been shown to be an important resource for individuals and households in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in gaining access to scarce goods and services ( Sik, 1994 ), handling symptoms of stress ( Dershem, Patsiorkovski, & O’Brien, 1996 ), increasing household food production and sales ( O’Brien, Patsiorkovski, Dershem, & Lylova, 1996 ).Social networks
A social network is the structure in which individuals, groups, and communities are connected in a network to form social support relationships. Within a social network, relational aspects of the connections among members contribute to the functioning of the network. Network research has been common over the past two decades in social sciences. Using social network analysis, scientists have been able to explain social phenomena from psychology to public health ( Borgatti, Mehra, Brass, & Labianca, 2009 ).
An influential contribution in the study of social networks is Granovetter's (1973) strength of weak ties theory. Granovetter (1973) argued that a network member's close contacts consist of strong ties and as a consequence, the information they pass along is redundant. In contrast, members’ acquaintances are weak ties and can be unconnected to the rest of the member's network, and therefore, can provide new information. The concept of weak ties has since developed into a general theory of social capital ( Borgatti et al., 2009 ). Members often accrue social capital as a resource because of their position. Social capital consists of structural embeddedness and relational embeddedness ( Lin, Prabhala, & Viswanathan, 2009 ). Embeddedness speaks to the depth of connection in a relational structure. Structural embeddedness is the position of a member in the network and is often measured in terms of size and frequency of an interaction. Relational embeddedness is the quality of the relationship between members in the network and is measured by roles and identities. In social sciences, different networks will have varying properties and account for variations in outcome ( Borgatti et al., 2009).Methodology
This study used Griffin and Farris's (2010) definition of assets of (1) individuals who offer skills, (2) citizen associations that link individuals together to achieve common goals, and (3) institutions such as hospitals, businesses, local government, and social service agencies. Considering the underutilization of formal services, the preference for informal support, and the lack of ethnic specific services for Asian Americans in Jacksonville, this study categorizes Griffin and Farris's (2010) definition of assets into informal and formal assets. Informal resources are those developed by the Asian American community through its members, businesses, and organizations. These informal services are either not formally acknowledged as providing social services or can potentially be incorporated into the informal support network. Formal resources consist of mainstream government and nonprofit entities that are available to all members of society. A university institutional review board (IRB) examined the research proposal prior to data collection.
Sampling and data collection took place in three phases with individuals as phase one (informal), institutions that consist of Asian American entities as phase two (informal), and mainstream entities as phase three (formal). The population of interest for phase one consisted of leaders of the Asian American community because they may be providing or know others who may be providing support in the community. Leaders of the community were identified through websites of existing ethnic organizations. Using snowball sampling, leaders were asked about other individuals who may also be an asset.
Phase two of data collection consisted of Asian American entities. A list of entities were compiled through searches of the internet, yellow pages, Office of Economic Development, Minority Professional Network, and Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce as well as the research team driving around the city.
Phase three of data collection comprised mainstream institutions that are providing services to all members of society including local governments, hospitals, and human service agencies. Websites such as Guide Star which tracks nonprofit reports, United Way of Northeast Florida, and City of Jacksonville were used. General internet searches also took place to locate hospitals and nonprofit agencies. The areas of support were categorized based on the purpose of the entity gathered from Guide Star, the entity website, and the services they provide as noted with United Way. For those whose purposes were unclear, they were contacted directly.
As each entity was identified in the three phases of data collection, a questionnaire was completed to document the location and which type of social supports the entity provided. Assets were categorized as follows: (1) interpreting/translating, (2) teaching English, (3) education, (4) culture/native language, (5) employment, (6) immigration/relocation, (7) non-immigration related legal matters, (8) health and dental, (9) financial, (10) food, shelter, clothing, (11) transportation, (12) caring for someone else's child/older adult, (13) helping with addictions, (14) helping family in native country, (15) domestic violence, (16) non-spousal family problems, and (17) counseling.
Once the questionnaires were completed, data was entered into an Excel spreadsheet. Geographical tracking was performed to begin to identify physical access and trends. The resources were put on maps using GIS and then compared to where Asian Americans reside. To complete this, the study utilized the ESRI GIS program Business Analyst (BA) to create and populate the base map of Duval county in which Jacksonville is based with residential information of Asian Americans for 2013, the latest available at the time of data analysis. The map of Duval County is composed of separate layer files including census tracts, county boundaries, major highways, and waterways. The county boundary, major highway, and waterway layer files were used to provide spatial reference. The census tract layer was used for spatial reference and population data and was obtained using the BA software which utilizes census data.
Once the base map of Duval County was created using the ESRI BA, the next step was to geocode the identified formal and informal resources. The geocoding process converts text addresses to spatial point locations that can be displayed on a map. The addresses were stored in an Excel file along with the related 17 types of social supports that the researchers were able to collect. A review of the matched geocoded addresses then took place to make sure all supports were in the proper location. The address locator used in the geocoding process was the 10.0 North America Geocode Service (ArcGIS Online).Results
A total of 719 assets were identified as potential/available resources for members of the Asian American community. Most of the assets are mainstream services, making up 533 (74%). The remaining 186 (26%) are informal resources that are Asian American and can serve as an asset within the Asian American community in Jacksonville. Of the informal resources 37 (5% of total; 20% of informal) are individuals who have provided some type of support to other members of the Asian American community. Businesses make up 42 (5% of total; 20% of informal) of those who can provide informal assistance. Organizations are the largest category, adding up to 107 (15% of total; 58% of informal); these included cultural, religious, and other not-for-profit entities that can be an asset. None of the organizations formally provide social services as their mission or purpose so the services provided are viewed as informal.
Fig. 1 plots formal and informal assets in Jacksonville compared to the Asian American population in 2013. What is notable is that the largest concentration of mainstream service providers is Downtown and in surrounding areas, but the largest contingent of Asian Americans reside in Jacksonville's Baymeadow area (about 15 min drive from Downtown) and areas even further away to the South and East. Only one block group within five miles of Downtown houses more than 200 Asian Americans, despite the fact that there are 43 such block groups in Jacksonville.
With Asian Americans’ dependence on informal support, informal assets must be examined on their own ( Uba, 1993 ). In contrast to mainstream services, Asian American informal resources that including individuals, organizations, and businesses are more evenly distributed across the entire city than mainstream services with more relative focus on the Southeast quadrant, where the residency of Asian Americans is highest. Fig. 2 maps these informal assets compared to the residency of Asian Americans in 2013.
Table 1 lists the types of services, the number of assets that are formal and informal, and the percentage of the total assets that were informal. Compared to formal services, there are more informal assets for translation, helping with family in native country, immigration/relocation, teaching English, culture, domestic violence, and legal. There seems to be a good balance between informal and formal assets related to transportation. Finally, at less than 20% of informal compared to formal, food/shelter/clothing, health/dental, counseling, addiction, caregiving assets seem very limited.
Types and amount of resources identified.
|Types of services||Individual (informal)||Organization (informal)||Business (informal)||Mainstream (formal)||Informal percent of total|
|Helping with family in native country||4||9||0||3||81%|
|Immigration/relocation/applying for residency or citizenship||9||12||4||8||76%|
|Other problems with family or children||6||6||1||31||30%|
|Food, shelter, clothing||6||8||2||107||13%|
|Health and dental||7||12||4||184||11%|
|Counseling/listening to problems||11||6||1||150||11%|
|Helping with addictions||1||4||0||44||10%|
|Caring for someone else's child/older adult||1||3||2||129||4%|
Aside from the maps provided in this paper, additional maps were created for each of the service categories but the researcher is not able to include them here for space reasons. These maps show differences in the location and distribution of the assets by support category. In terms of education, employment, immigration, and legal support, informal assets seem to be located in areas where Asian Americans live while formal assets are centered more around the downtown area and areas Asian American do not reside. Both formal and informal assets in terms of culture, health, counseling, and caregiving are evenly distributed throughout the city. Informal resources related to citizenship are high in the south side. Food resources are mainly formal located in downtown and west side. No informal assets were identified for addiction in areas where Asian Americans reside.Discussion and implications
The ABCD framework assumes a strengths perspective in acknowledging that the assets can contribute to community building and solving community problems. The framework takes existing assets within a community and urges individuals, institutions, and organizations to work together to strengthen the assets. Not only does this framework focus on building and empowering communities, it also teaches self-reliance within the community, provides tools to teach problem solving, and creates community ties and stronger bonding. By identifying the formal and informal assets in this study, the Asian American community can be more knowledgeable about existing resources. The existing assets can contribute to growth and development of ensuring the wellbeing of the community members without duplicating existing support and resources.
This study found that a majority of the assets are formal compared to informal, which contributes to the ABCD framework in emphasizing the key role of mainstream services at the community level. This is expected considering the small percentage of the Asian American population and the relative recent history of the population in the area. The majority of the informal assets being organizations is a strength of the community and an indication of the key role that organizations play in the Asian American community. The high number of organizations is also an indication that groups of Asian Americans are coming together for a similar purpose and developing social relationships that connect local initiatives as posited by the ABCD framework.
This study uses a proximity-based approach to identify formal and informal assets located in a geographic space. Geographic proximity is a representation of the distance that separates where Asian Americans reside and where the resources are located. Proximity's relational aspect can be constructed as a potential benefit but also as a limitation. While more informal assets are located in the Southeast quadrant of the city where more Asian Americans live, in general, informal assets are more evenly distributed across the city than the formal assets. In applying the ABCD framework, if the assumption is that Asian Americans provide support where it is needed, then Asian Americans themselves and their needs are more scattered throughout the city. This distribution could mean that informal support is bounded by a specific geographic location.
This study compared the informal and formal assets for 17 different types of social services as they relate to the percentage and location of assets. Many types of services in which there were more informal assets compared to formal are expected such as translation, helping with family in native country, immigration/relocation, teaching English, and culture. What is surprising is the amount of domestic violence and legal assistance provided. Domestic violence in particular because it tends to be stigmatized in many Asian culture. The resources for domestic violence may be in response to the prevalence of abuse in the community ( Ayyub, 2000 ). Legal assistance are issues other than immigration issues. This may be related to experiences of discrimination by Asian Americans due to responses of mainstream members’ to a more diverse population ( Weng, forthcoming ). The domestic violence and legal assistance may be an indication of a response to needs in the community, which contributes to the strength of the community and its ability to address needs as indicated by the ABCD framework. More formal assets compared to informal in the areas of food/shelter/clothing, health/dental, counseling, addiction, and caregiving are expected and not surprising. Seeking assistance for basic needs such as food or services such as counseling and addiction are stigmatized in many Asian cultures. Seeing medical and dental care from the mainstream tends to be acceptable and not stigmatized. Taking care of one's own family members is expected due to filial piety in which adult children are expected return the care provided by parents in old age ( Weng, 2013).
This study also identified informal assets related to education, employment, immigration, and legal to be more located in areas where Asian Americans live compared to formal assets. This is an indication that the lack of formal resources may have resulted in Asian Americans developed informal assets to meet their needs, which contributes to the key role played by informal entities at the community level stressed by the ABCD framework. Education as a resource developed in the Asian American community is not surprising given the focus on education for many families ( Weng, 2013 ) and being the reason why some immigrants come to the United States ( Potocky-Tripodi, 2002 ). Employment is also expected because it is one of the top reasons for migration ( Potocky-Tripodi, 2002 ) and it is a self-supporting necessity for families. Given the large proportion of Asian Americans being immigrants, immigration resources are expected to be where Asian Americans reside. An interesting finding is legal informal support that is not related to immigration being located in areas where Asian Americans reside.
The ABCD framework stresses the connection of local initiatives to the external. As such, this study provides direction for what the Asian American community and mainstream services might address in working together to try to achieve culturally appropriate services.
Some informal resources are scarce and formal assets are not easily accessible to the Asian American community based on where they are currently located. Culturally appropriate social service resources are needed in Jacksonville, especially in areas more densely populated by Asian Americans because informal supports are developed based on geography. According to Weng (2013) , informal support networks may not have the expertise necessary to address all needs. Development of Asian American specific services could increase the utilization of services. The Asian American community would benefit from formal resources creating partnerships with informal resources in the community to offer more services. The existence of ethnic-specific services can increase an ethnic community's capacity to respond to the needs of the community ( Iglehart & Becerra, 2010). Chow (2002) found that many ethnic agencies provide comprehensive social and human services and fill an important gap within the service delivery system for the Asian American community. Ethnic-specific services have generally been found to be better received by Asian Americans than mainstream services ( Sue & Dhindsa, 2006 ). When both are available, Asian Americans choose ethnic specific over mainstream public sector services ( Lau & Zane, 2000).
Whether in practice, education, policy, or research, all efforts on the part of social service practitioners must be culturally appropriate. Social workers must be aware of cultural values, religious beliefs, and adaptation factors that impact Asian Americans. Issues of service and needs should be placed within a sociocultural context as responses are filtered through the specific value orientations and belief systems of the ethnic group being served or under study ( Lien, 2004 ). Practitioners should be aware that they can never be culturally competent but instead must create a situation of cultural safety for individuals they work with so that they feel safe to share and engage. To create this, practitioners must ask for permission to enter into the individual's life and community. Only when the service provider authentically participates in an individual's or a community's life do they give voice to the unvoiced. Practitioners must continually modify their approaches and assess each step based on the individuals, families, or communities they are working with. Service providers’ success in helping their clients or population contributes to the effectiveness of their efforts as well as word of mouth in the community that service providers can actually help.
Building an understanding of community resources creates a path for future research. Because individuals, groups, organizations, and businesses are all part of the informal network within the Asian American community, network analysis can be conducted to determine the connections and frequency of the interactions. The Asian American community and its members are not isolated in the South and must interact with the mainstream. In addition, research indicates informal networks may not have the necessary resources to meet the needs of its members and must reply on formal support. A network analysis of the connection between informal and formal assets would provide weaknesses in the informal network and the extent of utilization of formal services. A more in-depth analysis on the relational dimension that focuses on the quality of the connections is also necessary. With much of help seeking within the informal network contributing to existing relationships and trust ( Weng, 2013 ), a longitudinal study can examine the relational aspects of trust built up over time within a community. Lastly, a network analysis to examine the connection between the geographical location and patterns of connectivity between assets would be interesting.
Because this study provides a beginning awareness of social service assets available to one Asian American community, there are some limitations to this study. The relational patterns of the informal resources captured in the maps may not be comprehensive because there is not a reliable source like United Way who has partnered with mainstream services for many years in capturing their list of services. As such, it is unknown whether the lack of informal resources is due to lack of assets or dependence on snowball sampling and the researcher's team driving around the city. Additionally, the assets captured are a moment in time and may change at any given time. While mainstream services are more reliable in the services they provide, today's funding climate may result in dropping specific services due to lack of funding or staffing. The Asian American community is predicted to continue to grow in Jacksonville. Therefore, new entities and individuals may acquire knowledge and skills to increase the available informal support in the community. To increase awareness of available informal support, a way to track the availability would be beneficial for the Asian American community.Conflict of interest
The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.
Copyright © 2018. Colegio Oficial de Psicólogos de Madrid