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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pp. 159-189
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