, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 25-45
Date: 07 Jul 2007

Reconsidering the Effects of Bonding Social Capital: A Closer Look at Black Civil Society Institutions in America

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Abstract

Few studies consider how Putnam’s bridging and bonding social capital arguments apply to voluntary associations within American minority group communities. Consequently, I examine African-American civic groups to explore Putnam’s claims about the potential negative political effects of bonding social capital. In contrast to the bonding social capital thesis, I argue that black communal associations encourage African-Americans to be involved in a variety of mainstream civic and political activities that reach beyond their own group interests. Using the 1993–1994 National Black Politics Study I demonstrate that although black organizations are predominantly composed of African-Americans and work to advance their interests, these goals are not pursued at the expense of connecting blacks to others in the general polity.