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Examining the interplay between government and society, Orr presents the first systematic analysis of social capital both within the African-American community ("black social capital") and outside it where social capital crosses racial lines. Orr shows that while black social capital may have created solidarity against white domination in Baltimore, it hampered African-American leaders' capacity to enlist the cooperation from white corporate elites and suburban residents needed for school reform.
Orr examines social capital at the neighborhood level, in elite-level interactions, and in intergovernmental relations to argue that black social capital doesn't necessarily translate into the kind of intergroup coalition needed to bring about school reform. He also includes an extensive historical survey of the black community, showing how distrust engendered by past black experiences has hampered the formation of significant intergroup social capital.
The book features case studies of school reform activity, including the first analysis of the politics surrounding Baltimore's decision to hire a private, for profit firm to operate nine of its public schools. These cases illuminate the paradoxical aspects of black social capital in citywide school reform while offering critical perspectives on current debates about privatization, site-basedmanagement, and other reform alternatives.
Orr's book challenges those who argue that social capital alone can solve fundamentally political problems by purely social means and questions the efficacy of either privatization or black community power to reform urban schools. Black Social Capital offers a cogent conceptual synthesis of social capital theory and urban regime theory that demonstrates the importance of government, politics, and leadership in converting social capital into a resource that can be mobilized for effective social change.
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