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Small, M. L. (2006). "Neighborhood Institutions as Resource Brokers: Childcare Centers, Inter-Organizational Ties, and Resource Access Among the Poor. Social Problems 53(2):274-92.

Current theories of how individuals in poor neighborhoods access information and resources have focused primarily on social ties, with concepts such as social isolation dominating discussion. But these theories ignore that individuals often access resources through interorganizational ties. The author suggests that an important role of neighborhood institutions such as churches and childcare centers is to serve as resource brokers —organizations
that have ties to businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies rich in resources and that provide their patrons with access to these resources. This article presents a set of propositions to understand how and why neighborhood institutions broker resources and applies these propositions to a case study of 16 childcare centers in high poverty neighborhoods in New York City. The author argues that resource brokers may be understood as  interorganizationally networked, loosely coupled entities whose actors respond to pressures of multiple origins, including professional norms and state mandates. He shows that, through mechanisms that vary in their formality and staff dependence, childcare centers provide access to a remarkable array of resources from external organizations. Findings suggest that resource access among the poor should be understood as an organizationally embedded process, and that true disadvantage may result not merely from living in poor neighborhoods, but from not participating in well-connected neighborhood institutions.

Authors

Small, Mario Luis

Mario L. Small, Ph.D., 2001, Harvard University, has been at the University of Chicago since 2006. A recipient of the C. Wright Mills Best Book Award (2005 and 2010), the Robert Park Best Book Award (2005), the Jane Addams Best Article Award (2004), and numerous other honors, he has published books...

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