PDF_Akom_Cities as Battlefields

Published In – International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education

Full Title - Cities as Battlefields: Understanding how the Nation of Islam impacts on civic engagement, environmental racism, and community development in a low income neighborhood

This article challenges social (dis)organization theory by investigating the impact of religious culture on civic engagement. Using qualitative data1 from ‘Bridge View,’ a historically African-American neighborhood in San Francisco experiencing environmental racism, this article asks: (1) How does the Nation of Islam (NOI) affect social organization in a low-income community? And (2) How does the metropolitan distribution of wealth, opportunity, and resources play out in urban space? The findings suggest that the NOI has often had to replace important public institutions responsible for providing social services in low-income communities—police protection, community welfare, and education. These findings suggest that we need to rethink the relationship between race, culture, structure, and political mobilization and incorporate a more fluid conceptualization of culture into social (dis)organization theory.