Inner-City Contexts, CHURCH Attendance,and African-American Political Participation



Over the years, an undeniable and convincing body of evidence has emphasized the importance of African-American churches as conduits for political skills, resources, and mobilization. In this study, we examine the growing incidence of neighborhood poverty; never-married, parent households; and perceived social isolation to ascertain the extent to which they undermine church attendance and the associated benefits of increased political engagement, organizational membership, and voting. The major finding of this study is that the inner-city contexts in which African-Americans reside matter for overall political behavior. However, these influences occur much more through the perception of social isolation and family structure than through neighborhood poverty. Moreover, while the results indicate that to an extent inner-city contexts do matter, they also reaffirm the continuing importance and durability of the African-American church as a viable and politically relevant institution in beleaguered, inner-city communities.