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The first interdisciplinary work to examine "social capital" in a single city

Social Capital in the City

Community and Civic Life in Philadelphia

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edited by Richardson Dilworth

Interview with Philadelphia City Paper, 13 July 2006

"Social Capital in the City is well researched, and well written on a timely subject. The book promises to spark new dialogue and debate. I believe that it will be groundbreaking in its own right, extending its value well beyond Philadelphia. It should serve to inform a broad and not just a specialized public."
Howard Gillette, Rutgers University, Camden

Much of today's heated academic discussion about "social capital" is either theoretical in nature or revolves around national survey data, neither of which adequately explains the specific social networks that actually sustain life in cities. This is the first book about social capital that both spans a broad range of social contexts and time periods and focuses on a single city, Philadelphia. Contributors examine such subjects as voter behavior, education, neighborhood life, church participation, park advocacy, and political activism. The wide scope of the book reflects its concern for comprehending the uniqueness and diversity of urban social networks.

Moving beyond typical definitions, the original essays collected here utilize case studies to demonstrate how social capital is nested in larger structures of power and cannot be appreciated without an understanding of context. Arguing that urban society is "social capital writ large," contributors complicate and deepen our knowledge of a crucial concept and its fruitful applications.

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Excerpt

Read the Foreword and Introduction (pdf).

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Reviews

"This is a valuable book for anyone interested in the decline of urban society in the United States. By looking at Philadelphia and its neighborhoods, a distinguished group of historians and social scientists evaluate how social networks come to define the success and the failure of the city. The approaches and techniques presented here will have scholars and general readers discussing the book's conclusions for many years. Social Capital in the City is certainly must reading for anyone with a strong interest in Philadelphia."
Herbert B. Ershkowitz, History Department, Temple University, author of John Wanamaker, Philadelphia Merchant

"Overall, this is a valuable collection of essays for those interested in exploring the use of social capital in understanding late twentieth-century Philadelphia. Its strength is its diversity of disciplinary perspectives."
H-Net Reviews

"This book is an important corrective to somewhat bland and self-evident understandings of social capital which tend to ignore the deeply contested nature of urban space."
City

"The book’s major contribution is its rich analysis, which examines the social context in which social capital and social networks emerge and are sustained...Highly recommended."
Choice

"[A] compelling book that makes a rich contribution to the literature on both social capital and the city of Philadelphia."
Commonwealth: A Journal of Political Science

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Contents

Foreword – Seymour J. Mandelbaum
Acknowledgments
Introduction: The Place that Loves You Back? – Richardson Dilworth

Part I. Social Capital in Historical Context
1. The 1876 Centennial in Philadelphia: Elite Networks and Political Culture – Jerome Hodos
2. Bonfires, Fistfights, and Roaring Cannons: Election Day and the Creation of Social Capital in the City of Philadelphia – Mark Brewin
3. Community Advocacy and Volunteerism in Wissahickon Park, 1895-2005 – David R. Contosta and Carol L. Franklin

Part II. Social Capital in Urban Education
4. Leveraging Social Capital: The University as Educator and Broker – Barbara Ferman
5. Community-Based Education in West Philadelphia: The Promise and Limits of Social Capital Production – Melina Patterson

Part III. Neighborhood-Based Social Capital and Local Institutions
6. Credit Unions and Social Capital in Philadelphia – Michael Janson
7. The Comparative Disadvantage of African American-Owned Enterprises: Ethnic Succession and Social Capital in Black Communities – Jennifer Lee
8. Whose Social Capital? How Economic Development Projects Disrupt Local Social Relations – Judith Goode and Robert T. O'Brien
9. Rootedness, Isolation, and Social Capital in an Inner-City White Neighborhood – Patricia Stern Smallacombe
10. Wellsprings of Social Capital: African American Churchwomen in Philadelphia – Valeria Harvell

Conclusion: The Declining Political Value of Social Capital – Matthew A. Crenson and Benjamin Ginsberg
About the Contributors
Index

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About the Author(s)

Richardson Dilworth is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Drexel University and author of The Urban Origins of Suburban Autonomy.

Subject Categories

Political Science and Public Policy
Sociology
Philadelphia Region


In the series

Philadelphia Voices, Philadelphia Visions, edited by David W. Bartelt.

Philadelphia has always been a city that has embraced a richness of voice and vision, defying attempts to define it in a one-dimensional frame. Books in this series, Philadelphia Voices, Philadelphia Visions, edited by David W. Bartelt, will give voice to the diverse communities and perspectives that help define the city, and to address public issues that the city's community, civic and academic leadership raise in the public arena. The series is interdisciplinary, encompassing discussions of social divisions, cultural heterogeneity, and the importance of popular culture as expressions of communities that critique, celebrate, and continually reconstitute the Philadelphia region.

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