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Urban redevelopment and neighborhood health in East Baltimore, Maryland: The role of communitarian and institutional social capital

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Using qualitative research methods, this paper explores the role of social capital in affecting the health of an urban neighborhood undergoing redevelopment in East Baltimore, Maryland. Descriptive secondary data on redevelopment, health, and social capital in East Baltimore, Maryland and health in Baltimore City, Maryland are presented. The authors show how the private institution driving redevelopment in this neighborhood affects and is affected by the social capital of this community (communitarian and institutional forms of social capital). Next, primary ethnographic data from informal/unstructured interviews, focus groups, a listening project, and in-depth key informant interviews are presented. These data show how local government affects the institutional social capital in this community. The qualitative results describe a current state:public relationship in East Baltimore that reflects insufficient institutional social capital (i.e. power to influence government institutions) in this community. Data show a community with minimal bridging social capital with the state government or the private developer in their community. Furthermore, residents feel that the bonding social capital between some community associations leads to mistrust of community leaders who represented them at negotiations with the state or the large private developer. This framework is used to evaluate how the political, economic and cultural context of a community affects its social capital and in turn the health of neighborhoods undergoing redevelopment.
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Keywords: community health; social capital; urban health; urban redevelopment

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Social Health Concepts, Baltimore, MD, USA 2: Department of Behavioral and Community Health, School of Nursing, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Publication date: June 1, 2005

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