Bargaining for Brooklyn Community Organizations in the Entrepreneurial City
by Nicole P. Marwell
University of Chicago Press, 2007
Cloth: 978-0-226-50906-8 | Paper: 978-0-226-50907-5 | Electronic: 978-0-226-50908-2
ABOUT THIS BOOKAUTHOR BIOGRAPHYREVIEWSTABLE OF CONTENTS

ABOUT THIS BOOK

When middle-class residents fled American cities in the 1960s and 1970s, government services and investment capital left too. Countless urban neighborhoods thus entered phases of precipitous decline, prompting the creation of community-based organizations that sought to bring direly needed resources back to the inner city. Today there are tens of thousands of these CBOs—private nonprofit groups that work diligently within tight budgets to give assistance and opportunity to our most vulnerable citizens by providing services such as housing, child care, and legal aid.

Through ethnographic fieldwork at eight CBOs in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Bushwick, Nicole P. Marwell discovered that the complex and contentious relationships these groups form with larger economic and political institutions outside the neighborhood have a huge and unexamined impact on the lives of the poor. Most studies of urban poverty focus on individuals or families, but Bargaining for Brooklyn widens the lens, examining the organizations whose actions and decisions collectively drive urban life.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY

Nicole P. Marwell is associate professor of sociology and Latina/o studies and director of the Workshop on Nonprofit Organizations in Economy and Society at Columbia University.

REVIEWS

"A significant addition to the literature on urban policy and community development."
— Choice

"Marwell's ethnography is truly exceptional in illustrating the byzantine institutional setting that must be navigatied before CBOs can connect neighborhood residents to the resources they need. . . . Bargaining for Brooklyn has much to offer, not just to ethnographers of urban poverty and community studies, but to urban, political, and organizations sociology broadly. The writing is accessible, and the cases are compelling. . . . Not only will the book be widely read and assigned, it should be a central text on urban poverty, interscalar institutional analysis, and CBOs. More generally, Marwell's voice is a welcome addition to an already illustrious cast of contemporary urban ethnographers."
— Michael McQuarrie, American Journal of Sociology

"Marwell provides an excellent community history of Puerto Ricans and Latinos in Brooklyn. . . . [The book] is richly detailed and likely to serve as a wonderful resource for future research."
— J.R. Sanchez, Centro

TABLE OF CONTENTS

List of illustrations

- Nicole P. Marwell
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226509082.003.0001
[poverty, inequality, social structure, social integration, social order, community-based organizations, Brooklyn]
This chapter first sets out the book's purpose, which is to open up a wider lens on the social processes underlying poverty, opportunity, and inequality in an attempt to understand how elements of social structure that extend beyond interpersonal relationships contribute to poverty and its related social problems. Specifically, it examines how formal organizations working toward a variety of economic and political ends make decisions that collectively produce the conditions that poor people face in everyday life, and under whose constraints the poor make daily choices. The chapter then discusses the structure of poverty, the challenge of social integration and social order in the city, an organizational perspective on social integration, the rise of community-based organizations in the city, and community-based organizations in Brooklyn. (pages 1 - 32)
This chapter is available at:
    University Press Scholarship Online

- Nicole P. Marwell
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226509082.003.0002
[Williamsburg, neighborhoods, poverty, growth machine, community-based organizations, housing]
This chapter tells the story of what grew in the void left behind when the growth machine abandoned Williamsburg, Brooklyn—a neighborhood whose pre-World War II working-class, immigrant residents decamped for the suburbs during the 1950s—and what happened to its new, poorer denizens when the growth machine returned in the 1990s. It is a story that revolves around the activities of several community-based organizations devoted to seeking, creating, and protecting housing for poor local residents. It is also a story about how these organizations' ability to secure their constituents places to live has been facilitated and constrained by the particular manifestations of larger economic and political forces operating in the city. (pages 33 - 94)
This chapter is available at:
    University Press Scholarship Online

- Nicole P. Marwell
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226509082.003.0003
[urban politics, community-based organizations, resource competition, poor neighborhoods, housing, Senior Citizens Council, Saint Barbara, Bushwick]
Urban politics largely focus on a competition for critical resources: along with affordable, quality housing, residents of poor urban neighborhoods need parks, clean streets, safety, quality education, and so on. Poor neighborhoods usually lose out in this competition, finding themselves with substandard housing, few if any green spaces, irregular trash collection, high crime rates, and failing schools. The story of Los Sures and the United Jewish Organizations captures the response of Williamsburg's Latinos and Hasidim to the devastated housing conditions of their neighborhood. The two community-based organizations' (CBOs) unique solutions to that problem involved significant political engagement with the city's housing bureaucracy and other actors in the housing field. This chapter examines the distinctive uses of politics by two CBOs—the Ridgewood–Bushwick Senior Citizens Council and Saint Barbara's Catholic Church—in a second poor Brooklyn neighborhood, Bushwick, which lies just east of Williamsburg. (pages 95 - 148)
This chapter is available at:
    University Press Scholarship Online

- Nicole P. Marwell
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226509082.003.0004
[employment, community-based organizations, low-income families, child care, local residents]
In a world where meeting the twin responsibilities of making money and discharging domestic duties has become considerably more complex than in the past, community-based organizations (CBOs) form a key piece of the survival system for low-income families. For one thing, they serve as important sources of employment for neighborhood residents. From Los Sures in Williamsburg to the New Life Child Development Center in Bushwick, CBOs create jobs and provide an environment that eases residents with limited employment histories into paid work. Although many CBO jobs are low paying or part time, they often are appropriate for the skill levels of local residents. CBOs also organize the provision of several critical domestic-sphere services that make it possible for adult family members to engage in paid work in the first place; taking care of children and assisting elderly relatives with daily living tasks are the most important of these. This chapter details some of the ways that they connect local residents to paid work, both by creating opportunities to earn money and by helping to fulfill domestic responsibilities. (pages 149 - 186)
This chapter is available at:
    University Press Scholarship Online

- Nicole P. Marwell
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226509082.003.0005
[community-based organizations, participation, Williamsburg, Bushwick]
This chapter explores the different dimensions of participation found in the community-based organizations (CBOs) of Williamsburg and Bushwick, focusing on the interplay between organizational goals and the forms of individual participation that different CBOs cultivate, encourage, and downplay. Some Williamsburg and Bushwick CBOs do in fact emphasize participatory forms that aim for individual transformation, and are less concerned with enhancing the organization's capacity to exert pressure within wider economic and political fields. Other CBOs encourage forms of participation that stabilize the organizations' existence—a necessary first step if a CBO is to bargain within fields to improve the set of opportunities available to local residents. The specific forms of participation that various Williamsburg and Bushwick CBOs activate complement these organizations' distinct theories of how participation can strengthen their position within the economic and political fields in which they operate. (pages 187 - 225)
This chapter is available at:
    University Press Scholarship Online

- Nicole P. Marwell
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226509082.003.0006
[social integration, social order, integration, poverty, community-based organizations, urban sociology]
This chapter presents some concluding thoughts from the author. The primary goal of this book has been to offer an alternative for theoretically grounding empirical investigation of the problem of social integration and social order in the city and beyond. It has challenged the notion that, in contemporary society, integration and order are produced principally within geographically bounded subareas of the city. The book has argued that integration and order derive substantially from the distribution of resources and opportunities within particular fields of economic and political action—such as housing production, government spending, and employment—and that the competitive and cooperative processes underlying this distribution should thus be a principal focus of urban sociologists interested in poverty and inequality. An examination of the economic and political fields within which community-based organizations carry out their daily activities also yields a more complete understanding of how social integration and social order are produced in contemporary society. (pages 226 - 234)
This chapter is available at:
    University Press Scholarship Online

Acknowledgments

Appendix. Notes on Research Design and Method

Works Cited

Index