Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Agriculture - Recreation, Parks and Tourism Management


Brian Greenwood


Sense of community, social capital, and emerging adulthood are all topics of increasing interest in multiple fields over the past three decades. Both sense of community and social capital are predictors of overall well-being for individuals and communities. As emerging adults begin to establish a sense of person and place, many have begun to look to young professionals groups as an outlet for networking and identity exploration. There is limited research on the impact of these organizations related to sense of community and social capital. This case study is meant to be a starting point to expand the research on this topic. A survey of 97 members of the Young Professionals Networking Group in San Luis Obispo assessed level of participation within the group as well as sense of community utilizing the Sense of Community Index (SCI-2). A one-way ANOVA compared mean differences between established participation levels (low, medium, high). It was determined the more active a member is within the YPNG, the higher sense of community they displayed. Six active members were then recruited to participate in a focus group to discover if active participation in YPNG impacts one’s sense of perceived social capital. Open and axial coding of the focus group data indicated that membership within YPNG increases relational qualities that are consistent with the literature on social capital. The results from this case study indicate that active membership in networking groups may lead to a higher sense of community and enhanced perceptions of social capital. More research is necessary to determine how one’s sense of community and social capital are impacted before and after joining such groups.