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Abstract

This article explores William Julius Wilson's contentions about community cultural traits by examining racial differences in middle class neighborhoods' levels of social cohesion. Specifically, we explore the perceived difficulty of these actions--as opposed to general pessimism about their outcomes--as a potential explanation for low levels of instrumental collective action in Black middle class neighborhoods. Our results indicate that, regardless of other neighborhood factors, majority Black neighborhoods have low levels of social cohesion. We also find that this racial disparity is statistically explained by shared perceptions about the amount of effort required to engage in group action in different neighborhoods. These findings emphasize that residence in a majority Black area---and the well-informed perceptions accompanying it-affect the lived experience of neighbors, even when they are middle class.

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