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FCWSRC Works in Progress Seminar for Faculty with Teresa Gonzales

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Five College Women's Studies Research Center

83 College Street

South Hadley, MA 01075

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FCWSRC Works in Progress Seminar for Faculty

“Teamwork to Make the Dream Work: Networks of Opportunity and Mistrust as Tactical Tool"

Teresa Gonzales, FCWSRC Research Associate and Assistant Professor of Sociology, Knox College

Much of the literature on community development emphasizes the importance of cultivating trust in order to build interorganizational networks within poor communities. We know trust relationships may bring additional funds and political influence to a neighborhood, but at what cost? Particularly if power is consolidated into the hands of the few. If trust can increase marginalization, how might mistrust create opportunities? Using a case study of two low-income neighborhoods in Chicago, Little Village and Greater Englewood, Gonzales focuses on the ways that neighborhood-based community groups use mistrust as a strategy for local power. The larger study focuses on the Local Initiative Support Corporation/Chicago’s (LISC/Chicago) New Communities’ Program (NCP) in Chicago.

In the chapter being presented, Gonzales argues that organizational mistrust, in particular, is a valuable tool against continued neighborhood exploitation, helps to create and set work boundaries, and can decrease social cohesion (and socialization) between organizations with disparate access to power. Although there was a high level of mistrust between organizations, certain groups still collaborated, and shared information, resources, and ideas. These collaborative relationships – what Gonzales terms networks of opportunity – provide greater benefits to both community organizations and local residents. This approach to networking, while potentially time-consuming and difficult, allows for organizations to connect their local causes to broader national issues, and is particularly useful in networks that contain unequal power relations.

Discussants: Hannah Holleman (Assistant Professor of Sociology, Amherst College), Caroline Melly (Associate Professor of Anthropology, Smith College), and Ellen Pader (Associate Professor of Regional Planning, UMass Amherst)

Dinner will be provided. Please email nroubini@mtholyoke.edu in advance if you have any special dietary needs.

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Five College Women's Studies Research Center

83 College Street

South Hadley, MA 01075

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