Dynamics of Culture—2003-2005

Document Type

Conference Paper




This paper uses unique data on Philadelphia’s nonprofit organizations compiled from IRS listings, city cultural fund grant applications, telephone directories and newspaper listings in 1997 and 2003 to test Wilson’s (1987) hypothesis that inner-city neighborhoods suffer from a dearth of social institutions. The author integrates these data with demographic information from the 2000 census to explore the size and spatial patterns of Philadelphia’s neighborhood nonprofit sectors.

Results indicate that neighborhoods have suffered a net loss of organizations over the past six years, although most neighborhoods still had over 100 institutions per 1000 residents in 2003. Ethnically diverse neighborhoods and neighborhoods with over 40% of residents living in poverty had the largest nonprofit sectors. Finally, neighborhoods with the most institutions were concentrated in the central city. The author confirms an earlier SIAP finding—that poor neighborhoods in Philadelphia are not necessarily institutionally ‘deprived’—and suggests that the literature on concentrated poverty find a way of understanding this pattern.


An early version of this paper was presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, San Francisco, CA, August 2004. The author used SIAP's larger social organization databases from 1996 and 2004, with the guidance of Mark Stern, to undertake the research.

SIAP's Dynamics of Culture research was undertaken from 2003 to 2005 with support by the Rockefeller Foundation.



Date Posted: 18 May 2017