Fostering Civic Health: An Analysis of the Generative and Mediating Activities of Community-Based Organizations

Source: Kandyce Fernandez, Robbie Robichau, Jennifer Alexander, The American Review of Public Administration, OnlineFirst, Published June 19, 2019
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From the abstract:
Civic engagement in U.S. political life has declined since the 1950s resulting in a deluge of studies that explore its causes and implications. Research to date has directed little attention to the institutional role of associations as the foundation for civic engagement in all of its forms. This article utilizes institutional theory as a lens to examine the ways in which community-based organizations (CBOs), in tandem with local government, foster civic engagement, and enhance representation in their communities. Through interview data obtained from stakeholders of 18 local education foundations (LEFs) in Florida, we examine the ways in which CBOs nurture civic health with client communities (generative role) and represent their interests in local policy arenas (mediating role). Based on the results of this initial study, we argue that greater attention should be directed to the relationships between CBOs and measures of civic health given their unique capacity to foster it. Results indicate the relationship between generative and mediating activities is such that CBOs’ engagement with client communities establishes the foundational knowledge necessary for representing their interests in the interorganizational arena. In addition, CBOs were found to establish both bridging and bonding capital in the interorganizational arena through their efforts to exert influence on behalf of client communities.