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Building Community: The Neighborhood Context of Social Organization

Publication Abstract

Swaroop, Sapna, and Jeffrey Morenoff. 2006. "Building Community: The Neighborhood Context of Social Organization." Social Forces, 84(3): 1665-1695.

This study explores how neighborhood context influences participation in local social organization through a multilevel-spatial analysis of residents in Chicago neighborhoods. We construct a typology of community participation based on two dimensions: instrumental vs. expressive motivations for participation and formal vs. informal modes of participation. Both instrumental and expressive participation are generally higher in more disadvantaged neighborhoods. However, the association is nonlinear for instrumental organization, such that beyond a certain threshold, additional increases in disadvantage are associated with diminishing rates of participation. Rates of instrumental participation are also higher in neighborhoods where residents perceive more disorder. Rates of expressive participation are higher in more stable neighborhoods. These findings suggest that theories of urban poverty and social need are more applicable to instrumental forms of social organization, whereas the systemic perspective is more applicable to expressive forms. Finally, most forms of participation are related to the characteristics of both the immediate neighborhood and surrounding geographic areas.

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