Communities do act: Neighborhood characteristics, resource mobilization, and political action by local community organizations

Albert Dale Hunter*, Suzanne Staggenborg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

Some communities act, and some do not. By action we refer to political actions that challenge existing authority, and by communities we refer to urban neighborhoods and their local voluntary organizations. By combining recent theories and research on local urban communities and neighborhoods with the resource mobilization perspective of collective political action we develop a synthetic model specifying the characteristics of local neighborhoods that affect their capacity to mobilize resources in local community organizations to engage in collective political action. Structural characteristics of neighborhoods (such as size and heterogeneity) are hypothesized to affect their ability to mobilize resources (funds and members) in local organizations. The degree of external support for local organizations is also hypothesized to affect resource mobilization. These in turn are hypothesized to affect the amount of organized political action engaged in by local urban communities. The model is tested in a secondary analysis of data from a pooled sample of 181 community organizations in neighborhoods in three cities. We conclude that structural characteristics of local neighborhoods do affect political action, but only indirectly through their effects on resource mobilization. Larger, more homogeneous local communities and neighborhoods mobilize more funds, but this in turn reduces the likelihood of political action. Smaller local communities and neighborhoods are more likely to mobilize members, however size of membership does not affect political action. In short, members do not count, and money matters-the more the money, the less the political action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-180
Number of pages12
JournalThe Social Science Journal
Volume23
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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