Social Networks, Poverty and Development: An Analysis of Capacity Building in Arizona and New Mexico Colonias
AuthorDonelson, Angela J.
AdvisorEsparza, Adrian X.
Committee ChairEsparza, Adrian X.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractSince the early 1960s, scholars and policymakers have struggled to understand the appropriate role of government in effectively using resources to alleviate poverty. While early U.S. anti-poverty efforts emphasized place-based strategies, such as government-directed infrastructure investments, approaches have gradually shifted to favor civil sector efforts that build community capacity. Efforts to strengthen community capacity have emphasized enhancement of community participation, improvement of governance and strengthening of accountability. Yet, despite the growing emphasis on capacity building, rural regions such as the US-Mexico border region, Appalachia, the Mississippi Delta and Native American country have remained poor.This dissertation argues that government institutions have failed to improve conditions in poor, rural regions because current efforts ignore the broader context and fail to understand the needs of both formal organizations and informal participants. This research argues that without an adequate conceptual framework for assessing these three factors - the structural environment, community-based organizations, and local society -- federal investments cannot change local conditions. A conceptual model integrating these factors is applied to the case of poor, unincorporated colonias located in Arizona and New Mexico counties bordering Mexico. The empirical application of the conceptual model relies on methods integrating both regional and local analysis. The regional analysis is used to develop a socioeconomic index of deprivation. The index accomplishes two objectives. First, it reveals patterns of deprivation, uncovering the relationship between the impact of location (proximity to metropolitan and border areas) on the level of socioeconomic deprivation. Second, it is applied to select five cases for further analysis. The local analysis integrates qualitative research and formal social network methods. Unlike other studies of community capacity, which mostly rely on qualitative case studies, formal social network analysis is used to identify structural differences regarding how community organizations and individuals build autonomy and linkage with local and non-local organizations to improve the quality of life.This research improves understanding - both from conceptual and methodological perspectives -- of how to analyze rural poverty so as to better design federal government programs that will better serve poor communities, especially those in unincorporated areas.