Sense of Community in Schools: Dimensions and Consequences for Delinquency and Civic Engagement

Open Access
Rosenbloom, Eliot Jonathan
Graduate Program:
Human Development and Family Studies
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
August 21, 2009
Committee Members:
  • Michael J Rovine, Dissertation Advisor
  • Michael J Rovine, Committee Chair
  • Edward A Smith, Committee Member
  • Scott David Gest, Committee Member
  • Constance A Flanagan, Committee Member
  • George Farkas, Committee Member
  • sense of community
  • delinquency
  • civic engagement
  • high school
  • prosocial behavior
  • compassion
Robert Putnam, James Coleman, and others have observed and argued that social capital and sense of community (SOC) have been declining sharply for over 4 decades and that we need to find ways to address that loss. Using the NELS dataset, SOC among high school students, teachers, and administrators was explored in 4 ways. (1) Factor analyses provided empirical support for dimensions of SOC generally posited in the literature, and for McGregor’s conceptualization of “Theory X and Theory Y.” (2) Correlation studies showed stability between Grade 10 and Grade 12 scores (for each group separately) and associations between average scores for each group. (3) Multilevel regressions showed a consistent negative effect of student SOC on 3 types of delinquency (based on severity) as expected, but a more complex effect of teacher SOC. Specifically, mild delinquency was negatively associated with T-SOC (for boys only), but the more severe types of delinquency were positively associated with T-SOC (for girls only). (4) Effects on voting behavior (2 years post high school) were positive for both S SOC T SOC, but effects on volunteering were nonsignificant. Mediation and suppression effects were both observed. Results shed light upon the benefits and drawbacks of SOC and functional community and the need to understand these in efforts to foster SOC and civic engagement and reduce delinquency.