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Social Capital and Poor Communities / Edition 1

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Overview

Neighborhood support groups have always played a key role in helping the poor survive, but combating poverty requires more than simply meeting the needs of day-to-day subsistence. Social Capital and Poor Communities shows the significant achievements that can be made through collective strategies, which empower the poor to become active partners in revitalizing their neighborhoods. Trust and cooperation among residents and local organizations such as churches, small businesses, and unions form the basis of social capital, which provides access to resources that would otherwise be out of reach to poor families.

Social Capital and Poor Communities examines civic initiatives that have built affordable housing, fostered small businesses, promoted neighborhood safety, and increased political participation. At the core of each initiative lie local institutions—church congregations, parent-teacher groups, tenant associations, and community improvement alliances. The contributors explore how such groups build networks of leaders and followers and how the social power they cultivate can be successfully transferred from smaller goals to broader political advocacy. For example, community-based groups often become platforms for leaders hoping to run for local office. Church-based groups and interfaith organizations can lobby for affordable housing, job training programs, and school improvement.

Social Capital and Poor Communities convincingly demonstrates why building social capital is so important in enabling the poor to seek greater access to financial resources and public services. As the contributors make clear, this task is neither automatic nor easy. The book's frank discussions of both successes and failures illustrate the pitfalls—conflicts of interest, resistance from power elites, and racial exclusion—that can threaten even the most promising initiatives. The impressive evidence in this volume offers valuable insights into how goal formation, leadership, and cooperation can be effectively cultivated, resulting in a remarkable force for change and a rich public life even for those communities mired in seemingly hopeless poverty.

A Volume in the Ford Foundation Series on Asset Building

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Product Details

Meet the Author

SUSAN SAEGERT is professor of environmental psychology at the Graduate Center, City University of New York.

J. PHILLIP THOMPSON is Associate Professor in American politics, Columbia University.

MARK R. WARREN is associate professor in the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University.

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Table of Contents

Contributors ix
Preface xi
Foreword xv
Acknowledgments xvii
Chapter 1 The Role of Social Capital in Combating Poverty 1
Part I The Creation and Destruction of Social Capital
Chapter 2 Social Capital and the Culture of Power: Lessons From the Field 31
Chapter 3 Social Capital in America's Poor Rural Communities 60
Part II Policy Arenas
Chapter 4 Crime and Public Safety: Insights From Community-Level Perspectives on Social Capital 89
Chapter 5 Making Social Capital Work: Social Capital and Community Economic Development 115
Chapter 6 Housing, Social Capital, and Poor Communities 136
Chapter 7 Social Capital, Poverty, and Community Health: An Exploration of Linkages 165
Chapter 8 Transforming Urban Schools Through Investments in the Social Capital of Parents 189
Part III Institutional Settings
Chapter 9 Social Capital, Religious Institutions, and Poor Communities 215
Chapter 10 Capitalizing on Labor's Capital 246
Chapter 11 Social Capital, Intervening Institutions, and Political Power 267
Chapter 12 Social Capital, Political Participation, and the Urban Community 290
Index 325
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