USC

University of Southern California
Annenberg School for Communication


Research

Research Areas

Civic Engagement

When and why do residents:

-have feelings of belonging to a community that motivate them to behave in a neighborly way?
-participate in the civic life of their community?
-have collective efficacy or the belief that they and their neighbors can come together to solve neighborhood problems?

These are the elements of civic engagement that we study. In 11 different residential areas of Los Angeles, areas that differ markedly in racial/ethnic and socio-economic composition—we have found two key forces that affect the level of civic engagement.

The first is the strength of the neighborhood storytelling network. When residents, community organizations, and geo-ethnic media prompt each other to tell neighborhood stories, there is a strong network that can buttress and sustain community. Most important, all of these storytellers are addressing neighborhood events, threats, opportunities, and issues in their daily conversations or stories.

The second force is the communication environment or the communication action context that residents share and in which they lead their daily lives. This context directly affects the vitality of the storytelling network. For example, safe streets, well-equipped libraries, parks, and other public spaces, and easy access to quality restaurants, grocery stories, and health resources are features that promote people staying in their neighborhoods so that they can connect with neighbors.


Research Team

- Breanna Morrison

- Chi Zhang

- Christopher Chavez

- Garrett M. Broad

- George Villanueva

- Jack Qiu

- Joo-Young Jung

- Katherine Ognyanova

- Matthew D. Matsaganis

- Minhee Son

- Nancy Chen

- Sandra Ball-Rokeach

- Sorin Matei

- Stella Chung

- Wenlin Liu

- Yong Chan Kim

 


Publications

Books Chen, N.-T., Ball-Rokeach, S.J., & Parks, M. (2010). The role of participatory journalism in promoting civic engagement in one ethno-linguistically diverse community. In Hutchison, D. & O'Donnell, H. (Eds.). Centres and peripheries: Metropolitan and non-metropolitan journalism in the twenty first century. Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Matsaganis, M., Katz, V.S., & Ball-Rokeach, S. J. (2011). Understanding Ethnic Media: Producers, Consumers, and Societies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Published Papers Ball-Rokeach, S.J. (2001). Metamorphosis white paper series: White Paper 1, community storytelling, storytelling community: Paths to belonging in diverse Los Angeles residential areas. Communication Technology and Community Program, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California.The_challenge_of_belonging_in_the_21st_century.pdf Ball-Rokeach, S.J., & Loges, W.E. (2001). Media: Ally or adversary? Prehospital and Disaster Medicine. 15, 62-69. Ball-Rokeach, S.J., Kim, Y.C., & Matei, S. (2001). Storytelling neighborhood: Paths to belonging in diverse urban environments. Communication Research. 28(4), 392-428 Broad, G. M., Ball-Rokeach, S., Ognyanova, K., Picasso, T., Stokes, B., Villanueva, G. (2013). Understanding the communication ecologies of community organizers to bridge communication research and community action. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 41(4), 325-345. doi: 10.1080/00909882.2013.844848 Chen, N. N.-T., Ball-Rokeach, S., Parks, M., & Huang, J. (2011). The Alhambra Project: A theory-based strategy for the construction of a citizen journalism website. In Hutchison, D. & O'Donnell, H. (Eds.). Centres and peripheries: Metropolitan and non-metropolitan journalism in the twenty first century. Pp 255-270. Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Chen, N.-T. N., Dong, F., Ball-Rokeach, S. J., Parks, M., & Huang, J. (2012). Building a new media platform for local storytelling and civic engagement in ethnically-diverse neighborhoods. New Media & Society, 1, 931-950. doi: 10.1177/146144481143564 Chen, N.-T. N., Ognyanova, K., Zhao, N., Liu, W., Gerson, D., Ball-Rokeach, S., & Parks, M. (2013). Communication and socio-demographic forces shaping civic engagement patterns in a multiethnic city. In P. Moy (Ed.), Communication and community (pp. 207-232). New York: Hampton Press. Hardyk, B., Loges, W.E., & Ball-Rokeach, S.J. (2005). Radio as a successful local storyteller in Los Angeles: A case study of KKBT and KPCC. Journal of Radio Studies. 12 (1). Katz, V.S. (2010). How children of immigrants use media to connect their families to the community: The case of Latinos in Los Angeles. Journal of Children and Media. 4(3), 298-315. Kim, Y. C., & Ball-Rokeach, S. J. (2006). Civic engagement from a communication infrastructure perspective. Communication Theory, 16 (2), 173-197. Kim, Y. C., & Ball-Rokeach, S. J. (2006). Neighborhood storytelling resources and civic engagement: A multilevel approach. Human Communication Research, 32(4), 411-439. Kim, Y. C., Jung, J.-Y., & Ball-Rokeach, S. J. (2006). Geo-ethnicity and civic engagement: A communication infrastructure perspective. Political Communication, 23(3), 421-441. Kim, Y.C., Ball-Rokeach, S.J., Cohen, E.L., & Jung, J.Y. (2002). Metamorphosis of civic actions post September 11th: From local storytelling networks to national action. In B. Greenberg (Ed.), Communication and terrorism (pp. 289-304). Cresskill: Hampton Press. Matei, S., & Ball-Rokeach, S. J. (2002). Belonging across geographic and Internet spaces: Ethnic area variations. In B. Wellman & C. Haythornthwaite (Eds.), The Internet in everyday life. UK: Blackwells. Matei, S., & Ball-Rokeach, S.J. (2001). Real and virtual social ties: Connections in the everyday lives of seven ethnic neighborhoods. American Behavioral Scientist. 45(3), 550-564. Matsaganis, M. (2007). Neighborhood effects and the invisible motor of community change. In Burd, G., Drucker, S., & Grumpert, G. (Eds.), The Urban Communication Reader, pp. 73-103. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press. Ognyanova, K., Chen, N.-T. N., An, Z., Son, M., Gerson, D., Ball-Rokeach, S., & Parks, M. (2013). Online participation in a community context: Patterns of civic engagement and connections to local communication resources. International Journal of Communication, 7, 2433-2456. Retrieved from http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/2287/1018 Villanueva, G., Broad, G.M., Gonzalez, C., Ball-Rokeach, S.J., Murphy, S. (2016). Communication Asset Mapping: An Ecological Field Application Toward Building Healthy Communities. International Journal of Communication 10(2016), 2704-2724 http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/5335/1674 Wilkin, H., Katz, V., & Ball-Rokeach, S.J. (2009). How family talk affects community storytelling: The role of family interaction in new immigrant civic engagement. Journal of Communication 59(2), 387-406.
Papers in Preparation Ball-Rokeach, S.J. & The Metamorphosis Project Team. The well-connected community: A new tool for planning to use the Internet to build community Kim, Y.C., & Matsaganis, M. (in progress) Living In A Stigmatized Neighborhood and Community Engagement: A Moderating Role of Connections to the Neighborhood Storytelling Network. Kim, Y.K. & Ball-Rokeach, S. J., New immigrants, the Internet, and civil society. In A. Chadwick & P. Howard (Eds.), The Handbook of Internet Politics. New York: Routledge. Wilkin, H. A., Katz, V. S., & Ball-Rokeach, S. J. (2009). Community change begins at home: The role of family interaction in new immigrant Latinos' civic engagement. Journal of Communication, 59: 387-406.
Papers Presented at Professional Meetings An, Z., Chen, N.-T. N., Liu, W., & Zhao, N. (2014). Agenda setting of media, public, and a local news website: Matches and mismatches. Paper presented at the annual conference of the International Communication Association, Seattle, WA. Ball-Rokeach, S. J. (May, 2009). Organizer: Participatory Research and Social Change: Case Studies of Partnerships with Community Organizations, A panel presented at the National Communication Association Conference, Chicago. Ball-Rokeach, S. J., Parks, M., Chen, N.-T., Ognyanova, K., Liu, W., & Zhao, N. (2011). The Alhambra project: Empowering urban community building through a research- driven local news website. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of International Association for Media Communication Research, Istanbul, Turkey. Ball-Rokeach, S., & Ognyanova, K. (2011). The Impact of Digital Media on Political and Civic Engagement:Do Digital Media Matter? Presented at the AEJMC Annual Conference, St. Louis, MO. Ball-Rokeach, S.J. (2002). Metamorphosis: Transforming the ties that bind. Paper presented a the Annenberg Public Policy Center Symposium on Deliberation, Democracy, and the Internet, Washington, DC. Ball-Rokeach, S.J., Kim, Y.C., & Matei, S. (2001). Communication infrastructure and neighborhood belonging. Paper presented at the International Communication Association Conference, Washington DC. Ball-Rokeach, S.J., Parks, M., Gerson, D., Chen, N.T., Ognyanova, K. (2010). Building New Media Bridges across Ethnicity en route to Increased Civic Engagement. Panel presentation at the National Communication Association Conference, San Francisco, CA. Broad, G. (2010). Ritual Communication and Use Value in the Case of South Central Farm. Paper presented at the National Communication Association Conference, San Francisco, CA. Broad, G.M. (2009). Gardens as Sites for Neighborhood Communication: The Case of Hollywood Community Gardens. Paper presented at the Urban Communication Foundation Seminar at the Conference of the National Communication Association. Chicago, IL. Chavez, C.A. & Ball-Rokeach, S.J. (2006). Exploring the Role of Religious Affiliation on Civic Engagement Amongst New Immigrant Latinos in Los Angeles. Paper presented at the meeting of the International Communication Association, Dresden, Germany. Chen, N.-T. & Huang, J. (2009). The Alhambra Project: Building a Civically-Engaged Community Through the Re-Localization of News in Alhambra, Los Angeles County. Paper presented at the annual conference of the National Communication Association, Chicago, IL. Chen, N.-T. N., Ognyanova, K., Ball-Rokeach, S. J., Wang, C., & Zhang, C. (2014). Causing ripples in local power relations: A case study of the meso-level influence of a hyperlocal news website. Paper to be presented at the National Communication Association. Chicago, IL. Chen, N.-T., Ognyanova, K., Zhao, N., Liu, W., Gerson, D., Ball-Rokeach, S., & Parks, M. (2012). Communication and socio-demographic forces shaping civic engagement patterns in a multiethnic neighborhood. Paper presented at the annual conference of the International Communication Association, Phoenix, AZ. Cohen, E.L., Ball-Rokeach, S.J., Jung, J.Y., & Kim, Y.C. (2002). Civic actions after September 11th: Exploring the role of multi-level storytelling. Paper presented to the Communications Conference, New York. Gonzalez, C.& Moreno, E. (2008). Working Together for a Shared Community: Community-Based Organizations as Sites of Intergroup Interaction. Paper presented at the International Communication Association Conference, Montreal. Hardyk, B., Loges, W.E., & Ball-Rokeach, S.J. (2004). Radio as a successful local storyteller in Los Angeles: A case study of KKBT and KPCC. Presented to the Annual Conference of the International Communication Association, New Orleans. Katz, V. (2007). Making the connection: What immigrant children do for their families and how it matters. Presentation at the UCLA Migration Symposium, Los Angeles. Katz, V. (2008). Connections between intergroup relations, family interaction, and engagement with the schools. ICA Conference. Montreal-Quebec, Canada. Katz, V. (2009). How children mediate connections between home and community: The case of Latinos in South Los Angeles. Top 3 Faculty Paper presented to the International Communication Association Annual Conference. Chicago, IL. Katz, V.S. & Matsaganis, M.D. (2011, July). Ethnic media and social integration of new immigrants in cities: A multilevel approach. Presented at the International Association of Media and Communication Researchers Annual Conference (Istanbul, Turkey). Katz, V.S. (2011, May). How children of immigrants contribute to family health and community wellness in urban neighborhoods. Presented to the International Communication Association Annual Conference (Boston, MA). Kim, Y.C & Ball-Rokeach, S. J. (2006). Community Storytelling Network, Neighborhood Context, and Civic Engagement: A Multilevel Approach. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the AEJMC Theory and Methodology Division, San Francisco. Kim, Y.C. & Ball-Rokeach, S.J. (2004). Communication infrastructure theory: An ecological approach to civic engagement in the contemporary urban environment. Voice and Citizenship Conference, University of Washington. Kim, Y.C., Ball-Rokeach, S.J., Jung, J. Y., & Cohen, E.L. (2002). Internet connectedness in a crisis: Connectors connected more after September 11th. Paper presented to the Convention Chair Sponsored Special Session, Broadcast Education Association Convention, Las Vegas. Kim, Y.C., Jung, J. Y., Cohen, E.L., & Ball-Rokeach, S. J. (2003). Internet connectedness before and after September 11th: High connectors connect more. Paper presented at the International Communication Association Conference, San Diego. Lin, W. Y., Song, H. & Mercado, A. (2004). Storytelling into Community Building: The role of geo-ethnic media in building communities. Paper presented at the annual conference of the International Communication Association, New Orleans. Liu, W. (2011 November). Political brokering in the domestic sphere: Examining the role of children in immigrant political socialization and participation. Paper to be presented at the Annual Conference of the National Communication Association, New Orleans, Louisiana. Matei, S., & Ball-Rokeach, S. J. (2001). Off-line Social Bonds as Predictors for On-line Social Ties. Paper presented at the International Communication Association Conference, Washington DC. Matsaganis, M. (2006). Neighborhood Effects and the Invisible Motor of Community Change. Paper presented at the International Communication Association, Dresden. Matsaganis, M. (2009). How the interaction of residents and community institutions impacts health literacy and how it can be leveraged to improve health care access. American Public Health Association. Philadelphia, PA. Ognyanova, K., Chen, N.-T. N., An, Z., Son, M., Gerson, D., Ball-Rokeach, S., & Parks, M. (2012). Online participation in a community context: Patterns of civic engagement and connections to local communication resources. Paper presented at the annual conference of the International Communication Association, Phoenix, AZ. Song, H. (2006). The relationship between humans, space, and media in globalization: The role of local and global news in ethnic media on the sense of belonging toward the residential area. Paper presented at the Annual Conference at the Association of Pacific Rim Universities Doctoral Student Conference, Singapore. Song, H. (2007). The dual roles of ethnic media: The effect of neighborhood news and home country news connectedness of ethnic media on the sense of belonging to the residential area. Paper presented at the annual conference of National Communication Association, Chicago, IL. Villanueva, G. (2011). Communicating the Space of Community Redevelopment in Hollywood: Harnessing Community-Based Research, New Information Technology, and Digital Media to Uncover the Neighborhood of Hollywood. USC Annenberg Fellows Symposium. April 2011. Los Angeles, CA. Villanueva, G., Broad, G. (2010). Redirecting the Negative Communicative Urban Tradition of the South Figueroa Corridor: Visualizing Communication Asset Mapping and Neighborhood Storytelling. Paper presented at the Urban Foundation Pre-Conference, National Communication Association. November 2010. San Francisco, CA. Villanueva, G., Holsheimer, A., and Cowley, J., (2010). Engaging the Space of Community Redevelopment in Los Angeles: Harnessing Community-Based Research, Organizational Capacity-Building, New Information Technology, and Digital Storytelling Tools to Enhance Civic Engagement. Presentation at Spaces and Flows: An International Conference on Urban and Extraurban Studies. December 2010. Los Angeles, CA. Wilkin, H. A., Ball-Rokeach, S. J., Matsaganis, M.D., & Cheong, P. (2007). Comparing the communication ecologies of geo-ethnic communities: How people stay on top of their community. Paper presented at the meeting of the International Communication Association. San Francisco.
Dissertations Katz, V. (2007). From conversation to conversion: Children's efforts to translate their immigrant families' social networks into community connections. Kim, Y.C. (2003). Storytelling community: Communication infrastructure and civic engagements in urban spaces. Dissertation Abstracts International, 64 (12), 4256. Lin, W.Y. (2004). Communication and community-building: The role of ethnic media in the Chinese immigrant community of Los Angeles. Dissertation Abstracts International, 65 (09), 3203. Matsaganis, M. D. (2008). Rediscovering the communication engine of neighborhood effects: how the interaction of residents and community institutions impacts health literacy and how it can be leveraged to improve health care access. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA. Song, H. (2008). Acculturation and Latino immigrants' health attitudes and behaviors: An approach of bidimensional acculturation model, Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA. Wilson. M.E. (2000). Leading the community chorus: The role of organizations in society. Dissertation Abstracts International, 62 (09), 2920.
Other Presentations Ball-Rokeach, S. J. (November, 2009). The seeds of civic engagement in contemporary urban communities. Lecture in receipt of the Wayne Danielson Award for Distinguished Contributions to Communication Scholarship, Presented at the University of Texas at Austin. Ball-Rokeach, S. J., Moran, M. & Frank, L. (April, 2010). Engaging residents, community organizations, and geo-ethnic media for improved community health. Presentation to the Magnolia Place Consortium, Los Angeles. Ball-Rokeach, S. J., Parks, M., Ognyanova, K. & Chen, N.-T. (2011). The Alhambra Source: Enhancing civic engagement in a multiethnic community. Poster presented at the Third Annual GPSS Poster Symposium, Los Angeles. Ball-Rokeach, S.J. & Moran, M. (February, 2010). Belonging communities and sustainable economic development. Presentation to the Envisioning A New City in 2010 Conference, Music Center Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles.