Date of Award

Summer 8-11-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Marci R. Culley

Second Advisor

Gabriel P. Kuperminc

Third Advisor

Julia L. Perilla

Fourth Advisor

Jung Ha Kim

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to understand why there is such lack of citizen participation among Asian Americans, despite the exponential growth of Asian American population in the state. Based on the literature on sense of community, citizen participation, and psychological empowerment, it was speculated that how individuals experience community may influence their motivation to participate. With the goal to understand and document how Asian Americans define community and experience sense of community, a sample of Asian Americans were interviewed. These individuals were participants of the Photovoice project conducted by a local community-based organization. The second aim of the study was to explore if and how a project like Photovoice enhanced the sense of community among participants. The findings suggested that Asian Americans defined various types and multiple communities. Also, it was suggested that because Asian American community is an imposed community of people of diverse Asian background, Asian Americans may not necessarily define it as a community or experience sense of community within the community. Based on the experiences of the participants, Photovoice seem to have great potential in bringing such diverse group as Asian Americans together as a community. Limitations of the study and future directions are discussed.

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