Cnaan, Ram

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Associate Dean for Research, Professor, and Chair of the Doctoral Program in Social Welfare
Dr. Ram Cnaan is a professor, associate dean for research, and chair of the Doctoral Program in Social Welfare at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice. He received his doctorate from the School of Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh, and his B.S.W. and M.S.W. from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel. Dr. Cnaan has published numerous articles in scientific journals on a variety of social issues. He is the author of: The Newer Deal: Social Work and Religion in Partnership (Columbia University Press, 1999) and: The Invisible Caring Hand: American Congregations and the Provision of Welfare (New York University Press, 2002). The former book discussed the need to link social work with religious social services providers. The latter book discusses how American congregations became the hidden safety net of the American welfare system. Dr. Cnaan's 2006 book deals with congregations in one large city, titled: The Other Philadelphia Story: How Local Congregations Support Quality of Life in Urban America (University of Pennsylvania Press). Along with Professor Carl Milofsky from Bucknell University, professor Cnaan edited the Handbook of Community Movements and Local Organizations (2006; Springer's series of Handbooks of Sociology). This volume aims to capture the field of community practice from a theoretical and conceptual levels using knowledge from a multidisciplinary approaches. Finally, along with Professor Stephanie C. Boddie from Washington University, Professor Cnaan edited Faith-Based Social Services: Measures, Assessments, and Effectiveness (forthcoming, Haworth Press). This volume provides the first systematic review of the effectiveness of faith-based organizations. Dr. Cnaan is the director of the Program for Religion and Social Policy Research (PRSPR) at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice. He carried out the first national study on the role of local religious congregations in the provision of social services and introduced an innovative new course on social work and religion. He is considered a leading expert in studying faith-based social services. He also carried the first ever census of congregations in an American city (Philadelphia). Dr. Cnaan is also known as an international expert on nonprofit organizations and voluntary action with a specialty in the study of volunteerism. He studied the role of volunteers in human services, volunteer management, and volunteerism as a social construct. Previously, Dr. Cnaan researched and published in the areas of information technology in social work practice, mentally-ill homeless persons, and practice evaluation. Dr. Cnaan serves on the editorial board of seven academic journals.
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Now showing 1 - 10 of 26
  • Publication
    Towards a Practice-based Model for Community Practice: Linking Theory and Practice
    (2012-03-01) Cnaan, Ram A; Boehm, Amnon
    Careful examination of the literature of community practice shows that existing community practice models do not ad- equately respond to the unique and changing needs of vari- ous communities. This article provides an alternative model that challenges the existing models. Based on extensive content analysis of the literature and practice knowledge, this alterna- tive model offers sufficient flexibility to adapt to any particular community. The model is also participatory, process-oriented, and reflective. Herein we first review existing models, provide criteria for assessing their applicability, then introduce the new model, and subsequently discuss its applicability and merit.
  • Publication
    Does Social Work Education Have an Impact on Social Policy Preferences? A Three-Cohort Study
    (2005-01-01) Weiss, Idit; Gal, John; Cnaan, Ram A
    This article examines the impact of social work education on the social policy preferences of social work students through a panel study of three cohorts of students at three universities in two countries - the United States and Israel. The findings of the study indicate that though the initial policy preferences of the students at the beginning of their studies at the three universities differed, by the end of their studies, the students' preferences were similar and supportive of the welfare state model.
  • Publication
    Philadelphia Census of Congregations and Their Involvement in Social Service Delivery
    (2001-12-01) Cnaan, Ram A.; Boddie, Stephanie C.
    This census of congregational social services is the first attempt to identify all of the congregations in Philadelphia and their services. This article reports results from 1,376 of an estimated 2,095 congregations. It finds that 1,211 congregations (88 percent) have at least one social program. On average, each congregation provides 2.41 programs and serves 102 people per month. The primary beneficiaries are children (served by 49.2 percent of all programs). According to the census, 571 congregations (41.5 percent) collaborate with secular organizations, and 857 congregations (62.3 percent) are open to collaborating with government welfare programs. Conservatively, the financial replacement value of all congregational social services in Philadelphia is $246,901,440 annually.
  • Publication
    The Role of Social Anxiety in Volunteering
    (2007-09-01) Handy, Femida; Cnaan, Ram A
    The volunteer management literature suggests that the most effective means of recruitment is personal asking. However, agencies that apply this method do not report the expected success in volunteer recruitment. Often they face the volunteer recruitment fallacy: those people assumed to be interested in volunteering do not necessarily volunteer. Based on the literature of shyness or social anxiety and on empirical observations, this article suggests that social anxiety often deters volunteering by new recruits. We hypothesize that people with greater levels of social anxiety will be less likely to volunteer. Furthermore, we hypothesize that people with high social anxiety will prefer to give monetary support to worthy causes rather than volunteer their time, and if they do choose to volunteer, they will do so alongside friends. Our hypotheses are supported based on the findings from a large-scale nonrandom sample in North America. We suggest how to avoid the volunteer recruitment fallacy by creating a personal environment in which high-social-anxiety recruits feel safe and accepted. By removing the fear of being negatively judged by strangers as they enter the agency and creating a more personal approach, new recruits may have a higher probability of becoming long-term and consistent volunteers.
  • Publication
    Adolescent Risk Behaviors and Religion: Findings from a National Study
    (2007-05-04) Sinha, Jill W; Cnaan, Ram A; Gelles, Richard W
    Too few studies have assessed the relationship between youth risk behaviors and religiosity using measures which captured the varied extent to which youth are engaged in religion. This study applied three measures of religiosity and risk behaviors. In addition, this study ascertained information about youths’ participation in religious activities from a parent or caretaker. Based on a national random sample of 2,004 teens (ages 11-18), this study indicates that youth perceive religion as important, are active in religious worship and activities, and further shows that perceived importance of religion as well as participation in religious activities are associated with decreased risk behaviors. Looking at ten risk behaviors, religiosity variables were consistently associated with reduced risk behaviors in the areas of: smoking, alcohol use, truancy, sexual activity, marijuana use, and depression. In the case of these six risk variables, religiosity variables were significantly associated with reduced risk behaviors when controlling for family background variables and self esteem. The study highlights the importance of further understanding the relationship between religious variables, background variables, self esteem, and youth risk behaviors.
  • Publication
    Performance and Commitment: Issues in Management of Volunteers in Human Service Organizations
    (1999) Cnaan, Ram A; Cascio, Toni
    Volunteers are difficult to monitor because they are not liable to serious sanctions. We propose that we cannot learn about volunteer work from existing knowledge of paid employees. We then review the literature regarding volunteer commitment and performance. Based on a sample of 510 consistent volunteers in human service organizations, we assess three sets of variables (demographic, personality, and situational) to determine their significance in explaining variability in volunteer commitment and performance. The findings suggest that careful screening and use of symbolic rewards are significant in explaining variation in volunteer satisfaction, hours volunteered per month (commitment), and length of service (tenure).
  • Publication
    Youth and Religion: The Gameboy Generation Goes to "Church"
    (2004-09-01) Cnaan, Ram A; Gelles, Richard J; Sinha, Jill W
    Using the secularization theory and the Marxist notion of religion as masking class conscience one would expect the importance of religion and religious involvement today to wane and be limited to lower class members. To challenge this expectation, using a representative national telephone survey of 2004 youth (ages 11–18) and their parents, we attempt to answer the following two questions: How religious are teenagers, and what may explain variation in religious perception and involvement among teens. Findings suggest that religion remains perceived as very important by most teenagers and parents report that about two-thirds of teenagers attended a place of worship at least monthly and that two out of five attended a social group sponsored by a religious organization. These findings do not support the secularization theory. As expected, parental attendance of religious worship, teen’s age, and teen’s ethnicity and gender were significantly associated with three variables of religious behavior and attendance. In contrast to the Marxist notion of religion, measures of socio-economic status indicate that, in the contemporary United States, religious participation, but not beliefs, is largely the domain of the middle-upper classes.
  • Publication
    Childhood Risk Factors in Dually Diagnosed Homeless Adults
    (1993-09-01) Blankertz, Laura E; Cnaan, Ram A; Freedman, Erica
    Although the negative long term effects of specific childhood risk factors - sexual and physical abuse, parental mental illness and substance abuse, and out of home placement - have been recognized, most studies have focused on just one of these risks. This article examines the prevalence of these five childhood risk factors among dually diagnosed (mental illness and substance abusing) homeless adults in rehabilitation programs. It further assesses the impact of each risk factor individually and in combinations of two on the social functioning skills and rehabilitation progress of these multiply disadvantaged clients.
  • Publication
    Motivations and Benefits of Student Volunteering: Comparing Regular, Occasional, and Non-Volunteers in Five Countries
    (2010-09-01) Cnaan, Ram A; Smith, Karen A; Holmes, Kirsten; Haski-Leventhal, Debbie; Handy, Femida; Brudney, Jeffrey L
    Programs targeting student volunteering and service learning are aimed at encouraging civic behaviour among young people. This article reports on a large-scale international survey comparing volunteering among university students in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The data revealed high rates of student volunteering and the popularity of occasional volunteering. It also revealed that other young people were the main beneficiaries of students’ voluntary activities. Student volunteers were influenced by a mix of motivations and benefits, with differences on acontinuum of volunteer involvement between those volunteering regularly, those volunteering occasionally, and those not volunteering.
  • Publication
    Comparing Neighbors: Social Service Provision by Religious Congregations in Ontario and the United States
    (2000-01-01) Handy, Femida; Cnaan, Ram A
    Although religious congregations in the United States constitute a significant part of the nation's safety net (Cnaan, Boddie, and Weinburg, 1999), questions still remain: are religious congregations in the United States unique in their involvement in social service provision? To answer this question, we need to compare them with congregations in countries similar to the United States. Congregational social and community involvement in the United States is attributed to several factors: the unique separation of state and church, a pluralistic ethnic society, and the market economy of religion in the United States. If these factors explain the impressive involvement of local religious congregations in helping people in need and in enhancing quality of life in the community, then we should expect similar findings regarding congregations in other countries with similar characteristics.