Bridging Social Capital, the Power and Development of Transformative Processes: A Story of Two City Clubs
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This research examines the dynamics and workings of bridging social capital through a comparison of the Cleveland and Portland City Clubs. Bridging social capital differs from most common conceptions of social capital (often referred to as bonding social capital) in that the associational connections seek to cross an important boundary that has marked an association at a particular point in time. Each of these clubs excluded women until the 1970's; both have also sought to build a cohort of young professionals over the last decade. The goal of this research is to understand the processes behind integrating these two populations into their respective clubs to expose the development of bridging social capital. Scholars have increasingly noted that associations which can build viable bridges often experience transformative outcomes - including the broadening or re-visioning of an association's mission and its impact within the community. However, due to certain structuralist methodological and theoretical predispositions, most bridging research can often point to the existence of these outcomes but cannot explain how they transpired. How bridging relations operate and produce transformative outcomes is still poorly understood. This dissertation uses a historicist approach to address those shortcomings. It reveals that bridging relations are far more dynamic then previously presented. Bridging relations can often mitigate, and be mitigated by, politics. How they do this is crucial to their success and the outcomes they produce. I argue that acts of power articulation and capacity development are important elements in building successful bridges. Institutional variations, the creative agency of actors, and the histories of these clubs within their communities help form the playing field through which these elements unfold. To understand this complex nexus and how it produces transformative outcomes, scholars need to study bridging relations over time and within the context from which they emerge.