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Relational Culture Institute

Rationales (Visalia)

We believe that people are smart. When asked, they can explain why they act. Analyzing patterns in how people respond to "why questions" can provide insights into the rationales that guide social action. Analyzing these rationales can be quite revealing.

Researchers asked several "why questions," such as "why do you define this issue as most important?" To understand rationales, we analyzed the responses to these questions.

Rationales are the "why statements" that legitimize and make sense of social action. Examining rationales can tell us much about the potential for future collective action. Widely shared rationales have a higher potential for inducing widespread collective action, so that potential varies based on segregation. We assume that rationales that are segregated have less potential for inducing widespread collective action than rationales that are shared across all reference groups. Although we were limited by incomplete transcripts, we found important differences based on the neighborhood of the respondent: low-income, mixed-income, middle-income, or upper-income.

Only four of the top ten rationales were not segregated -- that is, they were shared by leaders from all four neighborhood groups. These four rationales were education, environment, public safety, and political power.

These four rationales represent the least segregated rationales, and are described elsewhere. Here we discuss the six most segregated rationales.

Six of the top ten rationales were segregated by neighborhood, that is, not widely shared among all four neighborhood groups.

*Culture of Poverty

* jobs

* housing

* private or personal problem

* sprawl

* youth

Culture of Poverty

One of the segregated, divisive rationales we term "culture of poverty." This theme appeared exclusively in mixed income neighborhoods (neighborhood b).

*There seems to be a fear of going outside ‘our’ system. There is a culture in Visalia of ‘it’s who you know, not what you know’.

* The torch has not been passed to younger generation – older views prevail and younger cultural creativity is not embraced. Lack of inter-generational communication

* Visalia is disconnecting from ag. Counselors steer students towards other fields. Ag viewed as menial job due to population change and loss of land. Ag. viewed as degradation to environment instead of economic asset to community.


Another segregated rationale was "jobs." This theme appeared in low, middle, and upper iincome groups.

Neighborhood A - Low Income

* "Economic development has to include jobs that pay people for the value of their labor so they can support their families. Some jobs are adequately paid and have benefits, but most jobs that are here and being attracted here are not in that category."

Neighborhood C - Middle Income

* "Businesses that are coming here are low-paying jobs. Visalia is not attracting businesses that require skilled, educated workers. A lot of people that are moving here are commuting to San Jose area and So. CA."

Neighborhood D -- Upper Income

* "Jobs drive the economy; bring more companies @ quality level (wages /benefits, and services)."


Housing was another segregated rationale. It was shared by leaders from low income and middle income groups.

Neighborhood A - Low Income

*"There is no affordable housing being built. The city is not addressing the issue."

Neighborhood B -Mixed Income

*"The Real-Estate industry is a perfect example of the corruptive nature of illegal immigration, the current trend of unlicensed operators engaging in illegal arrangements to offer illegals homeowner programs, the scam in which illegals paying $10,000 to marry into a house deal."


Private or Personal Problem

Beliefs that public issues were actually a private or personal problem were also segregated, and shared only among Low Income and Middle Income groups.

Neighborhood A -- Low Income

* "It’s been recognized, everybody is trying to do what they can. But it all goes back to the parents."

Neighborhood C -- Middle Income

* "Some good things happening, however student success is dependent on parental involvement in education. Home structure is critical to success of youth."



Sprawl was another segregated rationale. It was shared only in Low and Mixed income groups.

Neighborhood A -- Low Income

* "We need to do a better job of public transportation, walking and biking. Less sprawl and more pedestrian friendly. We have a foundation set, but have a long way to go."

Neighborhod B -- Mixed Income

* “Visalia is experiencing growing pains. Growth has happened faster than public safety and the economic base can keep up with.” We will be playing catch up until we get a handle on it."


Youth was another segregated rationale. It was shared by leaders in low, mixed, and upper income groups.

Neighborhood A - Low Income

* "Youth see no future, have no vision for themselves. No expectation for a good life. They resort to drug/alcohol, gangs, teen pregnancy as a way of life and fall into a system of generational welfare."

Neighborhood B - Mixed Income

* Today’s youth are very naïve to life issues; they are Ill-equipped to handle decision making due to lack of information, facts, and objective decision making skills, and they hyave poor understanding of cause-effect relationships/consequences. This affects the rest of their lives--- education, employment.

Neighborhood D -- Upper Income

* "The youth are our future. Tulare County is notorious for losing our best and brightest. Make Visalia a more cosmopolitan community to encourage more students who go away to college to return here."


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