This article examines the affordable housing market to develop a new way to understand the problem of co-optation in participatory urban governance. Through a case study of the Chicago metropolitan area, it uses data from 105 in-depth interviews—supplemented with ethnographic, archival, and secondary data—to shed light on the circumstances in which poverty-managing organizations compete for the resources necessary to house marginalized populations. Findings show how community-based groups, which have long housed the poorest neighborhoods and residents, are systematically excluded from access to development capital in favor of other “grassroots for hire” organizations more amenable to the elite co-optation of grassroots empowerment—a process referred to as co-optation by cohort replacement. The article discusses implications of these findings for the study of urban development, participatory governance, and the changing social safety net.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Political Science and International Relations
- social policy