Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Civic Engagement Unbound Social and Spatial Forms of Inclusion/Exclusion in Low-Income and Multiethnic Communities
by Zagofsky, Tara Mirel, Ph.D., University of California, Davis, 2013, 190; 3596980
Abstract (Summary)

According to the scholarly literature, civic engagement practices inclusive of historically marginalized groups are critical to promote justice and contribute to the health of American democracy. Empirical studies meanwhile reveal a grim report of participation from low-income families and/or persons living in ethnically/racially diverse communities in decisions that affect their lives and livelihoods. Scholars have called for further research to address the gap in understanding how barriers to participation are created and reproduced in the day to day experience in marginalized communities, and what if anything can be done to transcend barriers and boundaries to broad based civic engagement.

By focusing on a high profile civic engagement effort in one low-income, multiethnic urban community, this research provides a context rich, textured account that sheds new light on these important questions. Drawing on four years of ethnographic research, this study finds that social and spatial boundary work intended to build diverse community engagement for an inclusive initiative ultimately created an exclusive process that kept most stakeholders out. This manuscript explains how these boundaries were created, how people gave them objective reality, and what their consequences were. The study also raises two fundamental needs for the future of civic engagement theory and practice: to change practices which are ineffective and often counterproductive of civic engagement objectives, and, to define an approach leading to meaningful participation. In response to these needs and associated tensions, this manuscript offers an integrated framework providing insights into how to create robust opportunities for civic engagement efforts in low-income and multiethnic communities.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Campbell, David C.
Commitee: Grindstaff, Laura, London, Jonathan K.
School: University of California, Davis
Department: Geography
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 75/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Geography, Political science, Ethnic studies, Social structure
Keywords: Boundaries, Civic engagement, Community development, Diversity, Ethnography, Exclusion, Low-income, Multiethnic, Participation
Publication Number: 3596980
ISBN: 9781303444319
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