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Citation:Arum, R. (2000). Schools and communities: Ecological and institutional dimensions. Annual Review of Sociology, 26, 395-418.

The purpose of this review is to examine the relationship between schools and communities, incorporating recent theoretical developments such as social capital (Coleman); neoinstitutionalism (Meyer); organizational environment (Schudson, 1998, Skocpal, 1997); and the changing ways schools and communities are organized and constituted. These developments are described in detail, along with a historical review of such concepts. The author agrees with Lagemann (1999) that, "Theoretically, innovative and policy relevant research on schools and communities must rely on concepts from more than one intellectual tradition." Sources for developing school reform policies and strategies can include such traditions as ecological definitions of neighborhoods, political sociology, sociology of organizations, social stratification, and status attainment. Difficulties in attempting to bring these traditions together to impact school reform such as the debate over the appropriate level of analysisÑfederal, state, or localÑand research methodology limitations (ordinary least square regression and hierarchical linear modeling) are identified by the authors. A significant problem is the use of research models that don't fit the dynamics of real life situations. Based on the review of relevant literature, the author makes an appealing argument for broadening the conceptual base of school reform research in order to make it more relevant and applicable to real school situations.

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