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«A Journal of Policy Development and Research HoPe VI Volume 12, Number 1 • 2010 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Policy ...»

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1998) and on the relative importance of “weak” or “bridging” ties in particular for accessing upward mobility opportunities (Granovetter, 1973; Putnam, 2000). Other social capital research has focused on aggregate levels of trust and civic engagement (Putnam, 2000), or has highlighted the informal social control that can be generated from social capital (Sampson, Raudenbush, and Earls, 1997). Although definitions of social capital are widely debated (see Fulkerson and Thompson, 2008; Portes, 1998; Portes and Landolt, 2000), in this article we define social capital as the actual or potential resources that can be accessed through social relationships where TNR are established. Therefore, social ties and trust are not social capital but, rather, are the prerequisites for social capital.

The latest wave of “neighborhood effects” research has brought social capital and social networks to the forefront of numerous academic and policy discussions as a potential mechanism through which neighborhood disadvantage might be channeled. It has been argued that living in povertyconcentrated neighborhoods, for example, can shape the social capital resources to which one has access (Wilson, 1987). In neighborhoods where most residents are disadvantaged, marginalized, or disconnected from “mainstream” society, residents may have access to a limited set of information and opportunities through their social networks, compared with those who live in economically mixed or higher income neighborhoods. Thus, inadequate access to social capital has been added to a growing list of conditions characteristic of high-poverty neighborhoods (for example, poor housing quality, crime and social disorder, and pervasive joblessness) that put residents at a severe disadvantage for escaping poverty and achieving upward mobility. The idea that neighborhood demographics affect residents’ access to social capital has informed urban housing policies that seek to alter the demographic makeup in high-poverty neighborhoods. In countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Netherlands, creating mixed-income communities has become an explicit policy goal for urban redevelopment initiatives targeting highpoverty neighborhoods, partly due to the assumption that mixed-income environments are richer in trust, shared norms, and resourceful social networks. Mixed-income neighborhoods are thought to provide lower income people with greater opportunities to connect with people who adhere to “mainstream” norms of work and family and to tap into better job networks (Wilson, 1987).

–  –  –

Research and Literature This section reviews a number of empirical and theoretical studies that contribute to the present understanding of how neighborhoods can shape the development of residents’ social capital in an effort to understand how HOPE VI relocation might affect low-income residents’ access to social capital. This section first provides a brief review of the research on neighborhood population characteristics and social networks. Next, it turns to the literature that explores the role of neighborhood institutions before finally considering the contributions from research on trust, public familiarity, and stigma, which may help further the understanding of social capital development in a neighborhood context.

Wilson’s (1987) research suggests that poverty concentration at the neighborhood level can shape residents’ social networks by limiting everyday opportunities to interact and form relations with higher income people who have long-term attachments to the workforce. Some studies have proposed that residents in such communities are lacking “weak” or “bridging” ties to working- or middle-class people who have access to important information and resources necessary for upward mobility (Granovetter, 1973; Putnam, 2000). Some evidence indicates that people living in high-poverty communities have social networks that are more homogeneous and dense than the social networks of people living in low-poverty areas, suggesting that information on jobs and other opportunities may be more redundant in high-poverty neighborhoods (Dominguez and Watkins, 2003; Smith, 1995). Poor urban residents were often found to have insular and localized social networks that offered little opportunity for advancement (Tigges, Browne, and Green, 1998;

Wacquant and Wilson, 1989; Wilson, 1996, 1987). In his study of low-income Latino and AfricanAmerican youth, Briggs (1998) found that those who had wider and more diverse networks had more access to job information.

While our social worlds today are less likely to be bound by our neighborhoods of residence due to advancements in communication and transportation (Guest and Wierzbicki, 1999; Wellman, 2001), spatial proximity may still influence the development of social ties (Mok, Wellman, and Antonia-Carrasco, 2008; Wellman, 1996), particularly for lower income people who are more bound to a place due to limited resources (as well as those who have limited mobility, including elderly people and people with disabilities).1 Length of residence may also have a positive association with neighborhood-based social networks as people become more embedded in their communities and get to know their neighbors over time (Coleman, 1988; Saegert and Winkel, 2004).

Others, however, have pointed out that physical proximity to higher income people alone does not automatically translate into having helpful social ties (Curley, 2009), because factors such as social status (Lin and Dumin, 1986), trust, reputation, motivation, community context (Smith, 2005, 2007), pride, shame, and stigma (Blokland and Noordhoff, 2008) can complicate the mobilization Some studies have found that people with more education and higher incomes have larger and more geographically dispersed social networks, partly because they are less constrained by limited resources to travel (Fischer, 1982). Unemployed people, in contrast, tend to have more neighborhood-based social ties, because they depart the neighborhood less regularly (Fischer, 1982). Households with children are thought to have greater social capital because the members of the household typically spend more time in the community and have multiple avenues for connecting with people in the neighborhood (Kleinhans, Priemus, and Engbersen, 2007; Saegert and Winkel, 2004).





Cityscape 35Curley

of such ties. Further, social proximity may be more important than physical proximity, as people are drawn to others like themselves in terms of lifestyle, social status, and values (that is, “birds of a feather flock together”) (McPherson, Smith-Lovin, and Cook, 2001). There is some evidence that ethnic diversity at the neighborhood level may have a negative association with local social relations, because residents in homogeneous communities may be more likely to trust their neighbors and be involved with their communities (Fischer, 1982; Putnam, 2007).

Although many questions remain about the effects of neighborhood poverty concentration on social networks and the relative importance of social versus physical proximity for local social ties, inquiry into what happens to low-income individuals’ networks when they relocate out of high-poverty areas is also growing. Attention to this issue was prompted with the development of programs across the United States and Europe designed to relocate poor people in an effort to deconcentrate poverty, create mixed-income neighborhoods, and improve the life chances of the poor. Two such programs in the United States—HOPE VI and MTO (Moving to Opportunity)— have relocated tens of thousands of low-income families from high-poverty communities in the past decade. By decreasing poverty concentration through relocation or redevelopment, it is assumed that lower income residents will be more exposed to higher income people and might diversify their social networks to include them. Few studies have provided evidence, however, that mixedincome programs (or relocation initiatives) improve low-income residents’ access to social capital.

In fact, studies on both sides of the Atlantic show little social mixing among higher and lower income people in redeveloped mixed communities (Brophy and Smith, 1997; Buron et al., 2002;

Curley, 2009; Kleinhans, 2004; Smith, 2002; van Beckhoven and van Kempen, 2003), suggesting that increased residential proximity does not necessarily promote social interaction. Others have similarly found that low-income movers tend not to receive job information from their new neighbors, challenging the assumption that higher income neighbors will become useful or willing job contacts or that altering neighborhood demographic composition will promote the development of social capital (Briggs et al., 2007; Curley, 2009; Kleit, 2001).2 In addition to the potential effect neighborhood population demographics may have on the development of trust and relations among neighbors, other neighborhood attributes may play a role as well, including physical structure of the neighborhood, its institutions and public spaces, and even neighborhood stigma. Although few studies have explored the explicit link between local institutions or other neighborhood features and social capital development in the context of a relocation program, a number of studies have suggested that neighborhood institutions are important for community stability, social control, collective efficacy, and social democracy. These studies are informative because they highlight the important role of local institutions and public spaces and provide a framework for understanding how neighborhoods may shape HOPE VI relocatees’ development of trust and social relations in their communities.

Although one study assessing the MTO program found that moving to a low-poverty neighborhood increased the chances that adults would have friends who graduated from college or earned more than $30,000 a year, only 8 percent of participants in the study found a job through a neighborhood tie, and no differences existed between those in high- and low-poverty neighborhoods (Kling, Liebman, and Katz, 2005; Orr et al., 2003). Further, HOPE VI researchers found that relocation often broke up strong social networks, which could reduce access to social support—another important form of social capital (Clampet-Lundquist, 2004; Curley, 2009; Greenbaum, 2002; Popkin, Levy et al., 2004; Saegert and Winkel, 1998).

–  –  –

For example, in The Truly Disadvantaged, Wilson (1987) emphasized the role local social institutions played in maintaining stability in urban neighborhoods. He argued that one consequence of the outmigration of the African American working and middle classes from American cities in the 1970s was the removal of an institutional base and the stability and social control it brought to those neighborhoods. As families from those urban neighborhoods left for the suburbs, so too did the businesses and services (for example, grocery stores, churches, banks, and restaurants) that catered to and were supported by them. The resulting lack of institutional stability compounded with the increasing concentration of economic deprivation created socially isolated communities with few resources to leverage political and economic investment.3 Sánchez-Jankowski’s (2008) ethnographic research similarly highlighted the ways in which local institutions such as beauty salons and “mom and pop” stores can play an important socialization function in poor neighborhoods and contribute to a sense of community, stability, and social order. Peterson, Krivo, and Harris (2000) also pointed to the importance of institutions: “When local organizations that link individuals to each other and to broader political and economic institutions are less prevalent, commitments to mainstream values are less likely to be encouraged, socialization to conformity is undermined, and the resulting indirect social control is weakened” (Peterson, Krivo, and Harris, 2000: 34). In multivariate analyses of census and crime data, they found that the presence of recreation centers reduced violent crime in areas with extreme economic deprivation, suggesting that such facilities and their programs may serve an important social control function (Peterson, Krivo, and Harris, 2000). Neighborhood institutions may promote mechanisms of informal social control by providing a venue for social interaction and for developing collective efficacy (Sampson, Raudenbush, and Earls, 1997), which has been defined as the trust, shared expectations, and willingness to intervene in one’s community.4 Related to these mechanisms of social control is the ability of residents to realize their common values and goals. In Bowling Alone, Putnam (2000) raised alarm about the declining civic engagement of Americans and the implications of a weakened institutional base. He argued that declining participation in formal membership-based organizations, religious institutions, and politics (voting) was indicative of a broader trend of declining social capital, which he contended threatens the democratic and social fabric of our society.

While the previously discussed quantitative and qualitative studies highlight the important links between institutions and neighborhood stability, social control, and trust, only two known quantitative studies have documented a clear connection between neighborhood facilities and local social networks. These studies include those of Van Bergeijk, Bolt, and van Kempen (2008), who found Interestingly, however, Small and McDermott (2006) found that neighborhood poverty level had a positive relationship with the number of organizational resources in the neighborhood (such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and childcare centers). In another study, Small, Jacobs, and Massengill (2008) examined the interorganizational ties of childcare centers in New York and found that centers in high-poverty neighborhoods were better connected and had more referral and organizational ties, challenging the general belief that concentrated poverty weakens the capacity for strong, local organizations.

Small’s (2006) research also suggests that as “resource brokers” and as sites for social interaction, neighborhood institutions and their connections may play an important mediating role between neighborhood poverty and well-being.



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