Summary: This text is intended to contribute to an understanding of human behavior in the social environment by providing social work students with an introduction to American communities. The primary focus is on local communities of place. Attention is also given to the communities of interest and identification that are intertwined with geographic communities. Ecological systems and social systems perspectives serve as conceptual and practical frameworks for examining the m ...show moreultiple communities in which people have membership, social identity, and social interaction. This new edition begins with an exposition of the societal context of communities. American society is recognized as part of a global community and then examined as a social system, a community of communities, a multicultural society, and a civil society. A new chapter devoted to the nature of the American welfare state examines the way responsibilities for social and health care are carried out by private and public institutions. The book includes revised and updated discussions of systems perspectives on communities drawn from social work and social science research literature. Community issues covered by the news media are incorporated into each chapter. The closing chapters of the new edition examine the processes of social conflict and social integration and their relationship to goals for a competent community and the practice of social work. Special attention is given throughout the text to communities of identification and interest, particularly groups distinguished by race, ethnicity, culture, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, physical and mental ability, age, and national origin. Finally, the new edition emphasizes the way that discrimination, economic deprivation, and oppression affect populations at risk and the role communities play in the pursuit of individual and collective social and economic justice.