Neighborhood Associations and Social Capital

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In the United States, the past 50 years have witnessed a remarkable expansion of formal associations in residential neighborhoods, including homeowners associations, condo associations, crime watch groups, tenant associations, and special-interest neighborhood coalitions. Despite their prevalence and growing role in neighborhood governance, the relationship of these associations to interpersonal trust and networks among residents and outsiders remains understudied. Drawing on the Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey (SCCBS), we estimate the impact of neighborhood association membership on bonding and bridging social capital in a nationally representative sample of residents. Among non-homeowners, our findings suggest that neighborhood association membership is linked to bonding social capital (such as a propensity to socialize and cooperate with neighbors and a positive perception of impact on community conditions), as well as bridging social capital (such as a greater likelihood of trust in racial out-groups). These benefits from neighborhood association membership are attenuated or reversed among homeowners. The results underscore the need for social scientists to consider the inherent tension in neighborhood associations, as institutions that ensure the protection of property values, on the one hand, and that promote neighborhood cooperation and quality of life, on the other.





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Ruef, M, and SW Kwon (2016). Neighborhood Associations and Social Capital. Social Forces, 95(1). pp. 159–190. 10.1093/sf/sow053 Retrieved from

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Martin Ruef

Jack and Pamela Egan Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship

My research considers the social context of entrepreneurship from both a contemporary and historical perspective. I draw on large-scale surveys of entrepreneurs in the United States to explore processes of team formation, innovation, exchange, and boundary maintenance in nascent business startups. My historical analyses address entrepreneurial activity and constraint during periods of profound institutional change. This work has considered a diverse range of sectors, including the organizational transformation of Southern agriculture and industry after the Civil War, African American entrepreneurship under Jim Crow, the transition of the U.S. healthcare system from professional monopoly to managed care, and the character of entrepreneurship during early mercantile and industrial capitalism.

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