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Cultural Collective Efficacy, Social Capital and Place-Based Lawmaking: Revisiting the People Versus Place Debate

Lisa T. Alexander

University of Wisconsin Law School

August 31, 2011

Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1171

U.S. housing law is finally receiving its due attention. Scholars and practioners are primarily focused on the subprime mortgage and foreclosure crises. Yet, the current recession has also resurrected the debate about the efficacy of place-based lawmaking. Place-based laws direct economic resources to low-income neighborhoods to help existing residents remain in place and to improve those areas. Law-and-economists and staunch integrationists respectively attack place-based lawmaking on economic and social grounds. This Article examines the efficacy of place-based lawmaking through the underutilized prism of culture. Using a socio-legal approach, it develops a theory of cultural collective efficacy as a justification for place-based lawmaking. Cultural collective efficacy describes positive social networks that inner-city residents develop through participation in musical, artistic and other neighborhood-based cultural endeavors. Cultural collective efficacy can help inner-city residents mitigate the negative effects of living in a poor and segregated community as well as obtain more concrete benefits from urban revitalization. It provides a framework to examine important microdyanmics in the “inner-city” that many scholars and policymakers have ignored. This Article devises new combinations of place-based laws that might protect cultural collective efficacy such as: (1) historic districts with affordable housing protections secured through transferable development rights, (2) foreclosure prevention strategies, (3) techniques to mitigate eminent domain abuse, and (4) re-interpretations of the Fair Housing Act’s “affirmatively furthering” fair housing mandate. These examples of place-based lawmaking may more effectively promote equitable development and advance distributive justice in U.S. housing law and policy.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 64

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Date posted: September 1, 2011  

Suggested Citation

Alexander, Lisa T., Cultural Collective Efficacy, Social Capital and Place-Based Lawmaking: Revisiting the People Versus Place Debate (August 31, 2011). Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1171. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1920364 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1920364

Contact Information

Lisa T. Alexander (Contact Author)
University of Wisconsin Law School ( email )
975 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706
United States
HOME PAGE: http://law.wisc.edu/profiles/index.php?iEmployeeID=81
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