Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name



Social Work

First Advisor

Anna M. Santiago


Previous research on faith-based organizations suggest that these organizations are highly effective at forging relationships between individuals from different racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds, known as bridging social capital. This study examines the process of bridging social capital formation within MOSES, a faith-based organization located in Detroit, Michigan. Through the use of in-depth interviews, participant observation, archival research, and a member survey, I documented the forms of social capital present within the organization. I also explored whether bridging relationships were forming within the organization and the strategies that facilitated their formation. Diversity within the organization, recognition of member differences, and barriers to social capital formation were also examined. Finally, I assessed mechanisms for unifying and mobilizing members within the organization.

The study depicts how one faith-based organization has attempted to bridge the gaps between organization and community members from different cultural backgrounds through relationship building. An analysis of the data revealed that MOSES has made some progress toward bringing African American, White, and Latino individuals together to work on social issues. MOSES also has made some progress on bringing together members from different Christian denominations to work on issues.

Findings also suggested that many of the barriers the organization faced to bridging social capital formation were internal barriers inside of the organization as opposed to societal issues that exist outside of the organization. These barriers included the absence of dimensions of social capital and limited diversity within the organization. Other barriers identified were the lack of relationship building, failure to address member differences, and issues with organizational governance and structure. Strategies such as increasing diversity within the organization, addressing member differences in terms of race, religion, and location of residence; and developing organizational processes, may all contribute to bridging social capital formation.

Included in

Social Work Commons