A Neighborhood Divided: Community Resistance to an AIDS Care Facility

By Jane Balin | Go to book overview

[5]

Status Group Conflicts, Symbols,
and Politics

While the West Highlanders were battling over which moral community would come to prevail in the neighborhood—that espoused by the members of the Elder Homes Neighborhood Association (EHNA) or that asserted by the supporters of Chaver—I was preoccupied with the social origins of the competing moral visions of neighborhood life emerging from the Chaver controversy. In many ways, the neighborhood discourse revolving around Chaver echoed the divisive political sentiments framing national debates on such subjects as welfare reform, urban poverty, the responsibilities of the U.S. middle class to the poor, and gay and lesbian rights (a subject discussed only in private in West Highland and explored in Chapter 6). The accusations of racism, homophobia, and class bigotry and the contemptuous use of labels such as “liberals, ” “conservatives, ” and “yuppies” during the nursing home controversy sounded all too familiar. Perhaps understanding the social forces driving the neighbors of West Highland to embrace such seemingly distinct images of “who should enter, remain in, and become excluded from the community” 1. might also shed light on the underlying causes of larger national fractures and conflicts over urban social policy, race and class relations, and gay and lesbian sexuality.

What was at the root of the seemingly divergent moral communities emanating from the Chaver controversy? From my earliest discussions with the

____________________
1.
Michelle Fine, “The `Public' in Public Schools: The Social Construction/Constriction of Moral Communities” (Unpublished paper, 1990).

-76-

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