Can you afford to stay aside? Socioeconomic status, network position and structure in community involvement in a Romanian city
Sociology and Social Work University of Oradea Oradea, Romania
Local policies can benefit greatly from various forms of informal governance that require citizen participation. The paper investigates the avenues of community involvement in the context of urban neighborhoods of blocks of flats built in Oradea (Romania) before 1990. Community involvement of families from 20 such neighborhoods (N=412 families) was modeled using multilevel regression techniques and including network measures. The analyzes confirm results of previous studies which have shown that, contrary to processes of mobilization in Western collectivities, where participation is positively correlated with degrees of social integration and measures of SES (the integration model), forms of involvement investigated in my paper should be understood as adaptations to situations of exclusion from delocalized networks of those with higher social status (the need model). We record thus, in post-socialist societies, the persistence of relevance of similarity networks, of bonding type, a situation that has been promoted also through the policies aimed at controlling social participation during the totalitarian communist regimes. The consequences of our results for understanding urban governance in Eastern Europe as well as recommendations for citizenship activation at local level are discussed in the final section of the paper.