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NEIGHBORHOOD ATTACHMENT, SOCIAL CAPITAL BUILDING, AND POLITICAL PARTICIPATION: A CASE STUDY OF LOW- AND MODERATE-INCOME RESIDENTS OF WATERLOO, IOWA

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ABSTRACT: 

This case study examines the importance of neighborhood identity and engagement in place-based social networks within the neighborhood in fostering and stimulating neighborhood-based participation in the urban political process. Scholars concerned with civic engagement have argued that there is a strong link between the informal ties known as “social capital” and citizen engagement in the larger community. If this linkage can be shown to exist in the neighborhood setting, then it can provide guidance to both scholars and practitioners in utilizing informal, place-based networks to empower disadvantaged neighborhoods. Evidence presented in this essay, based on interviews with a representative sample of neighborhood residents in the small industrial city of Waterloo, Iowa, suggests that strong informal networks of social capital exist within neighborhoods, but that persons who are more strongly engaged in these networks are not necessarily more involved in the efforts of formal neighborhood associations. However, individuals who are involved in these formal associations are much more likely to be connected to the local and national political systems through voting and other forms of participation.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Northern Iowa

Publication date: 2007-05-01

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