Publication Date

2001

Abstract

This paper considers the effect of social class, or socio-economic status (SES), on participation in People Acting for Community Together (PACT). PACT is an organization in Miami, Florida, that uses a model of community organizing called faith-based community organizing (FBCO). The focus of the research is on determining the relationship between SES on the one hand and participants' motivations for, and perceived benefits of, being involved in PACT on the other. The hypothesis is that, whereas low- to middle-income persons participate because they stand to benefit from PACT's victories gained through issue campaigns, higher-income persons participate because they feel compelled by their faith to work for social justice. This hypothesis is tested through a series of semi-structured interviews, a focus group with PACT leaders, and secondary research. Major findings are that lower-income leaders focus on collective advancement over individual gain, middle-income leaders appreciate the opportunities for personal development that PACT provides, and higher-income leaders do feel compelled by their faith, but are also driven by general dissatisfaction with their communities. In other words, the hypothesis is a somewhat accurate but insufficient explanation of the relationship between SES and participation in PACT. It is suggested that PACT work toward more clearly identifying itself with its target population (low- to moderate-income people) while presenting itself as an opportunity for people of all income levels to have a greater involvement in, and impact on, their community. The research shows that PACT is a dynamic enough organization to achieve this balance.

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