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Building an active citizenry

the role of neighborhood problems, readiness, and capacity for change

Foster-Fishman, P.G., Cantillon, D., Pierce, S.J., & Egeren, L.A. van (2007). Building an active citizenry: the role of neighborhood problems, readiness, and capacity for change.

Community-building initiatives strive to involve residents as the drivers of the change process, involving them in an array of activities including collective action efforts. Recent evaluations of many of these initiatives, however, suggest that developing the levels of resident involvement needed in such efforts is challenging. This study examines the neighborhood conditions that are related to whether and how much residents become involved in individual activism and collective action efforts. A random-digit-dial Phone survey of 460 residents in 7 distressed neighborhoods suggested that while demographic variables were relatively unimportant, resident perceptions of neighborhood readiness (i.e., hope for the future and collective efficacy) and capacity for change (i.e., social ties and neighborhood leadership), and the level of neighborhood problems were strongly related to whether and how much residents were involved in individual and collective action efforts. Moreover, different elements of these neighborhood conditions were more or less important depending on the type and level of resident involvement. For example, while perceptions of neighborhood problems was the strongest predictor of whether an individual became involved at all, perceived strength of neighborhood leadership was the strongest predictor of an individual's level of activity. The implications of these findings for practitioners and scientists are discussed.

Uitgever(s): Springer Science+Business Media,


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Pennie Foster-Fishman
Daniel Cantillon
Steven Pierce
Laurie van Egeren

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