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Social Capital

Political Science
Course Code
Sophia Moreau

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Monday March 28th/ 11 Social Capital
Exam Information:
Short Answer- Half a page to a whole page. 2-4 paragraphs.
Some are 2 or three related questions, whole some are just one question: What is x?
Need to know very specific things
Eight questions, each worth 12% one worth 4%
Covers the entire year but weighted towards the second semester. One or two questions
which refer back to literature and lectures from first semester.
2 movies are on the exam Life and Debt Hacking Democracy
Institution Society
1980’s the ideal of democracy was a multiparty, indv rights..
Elections key indicator of whether you had democracy. People believed model promised
prosperity, security etc.. Democracy appeared to be tied to stability and economic wealth.
Transitioning countries wanted not just the chance to vote but the above.
Three things have happened since that model:
1. Rejection of US model: US has been discredited
2. Elections produce few tangible benefits: most people are excluded, elections dont
bring improvements in human well being
3. Decentralization: promoted by the WB, creates mechanisms of Decentralization
- Moving political decision making and budgeting away from the centre at the same time
that multiparty system is being dismissed as largely irrelevant to peoples lives
Participatory democracy is empowering
Participatory democracy could be transformative: Classical Liberalists feared democracy
because it would lead to massive redistribution and radical egalitarianism. Has never lead
to economic equality. Participatory democracy may produce different results
Different people
Different level Different decisions?
Different Mechanisms
Having a town hall meeting, budget meetings available to the public. Would decisions
tend toward greater equality? Participatory budgeting produces more distributive
Social Capital is what you get when you have social networks that creates trust between
people. Can be the basis for solidarity, cooperation and activism.
Social capital refers to connections among individuals. In that sense social capital is
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closely related to what sine have called “civic virtue”. The difference is that social capital
calls attention to the fact that civic virtue is most powerful when embedded in a sense
network of reciprocal social relations. A society of many virtuous but isolated individuals
is not necessarily rich in social capital.
Human capital investment: education, training etc. Increases human productivity
Social capital refers to institutions, relationships, and norms that shape the quality and
quantity of a societies social interactions… Social capital is not just the sum of the
institutions which underpin a society- it is the glue that holds them together. – WB
Benefits attributed to Social Capital:
Trust between individual This becomes trust between strangers and trust of a broad fabric
of social inst; ultimately it becomes a shared set of values, virtues, and expectation within
society as a whole. Without this interaction, on the other hand, trust decays; at a certain
point this decay begins to manifest itself in serious social problems.. the concept of social
capital contends that building or rebuilding community and trust requires face to face
encounters – Beem 1999
-Lower crime figures
-Better health
-Higher education achievement
-Better economic growth
If you have social capital you might be able to make up for your lack of physical or
human capital. If you have a poor community, with low physical and human capital but
has high levels of organization it might be able to make up for these lackings. Tightly
connected, aware of needs of community and have trust with one another allows
cooperation that may be able to make up for human and physical capital.
Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835:
American society was uniquely suited to democracy because it was non hierarchical with
open networks, comprised a society of ‘joiners. Social organization was the backbone of
democracy, not the constitution or other institutions.
Putnam: if you locate democracy and it has these characteristics you associate them.
Preconditions located in social life. Implies that some countries are going to have it and
some arent. You need a certain kind of society that is capable of behaving
democratically. Many countries are transitions by building electoral systems and
institutions and institution building. US model is electoral, institutional. Focus on
institution is being rejected because of a lack of change and consolidation of power in
elite. How can we get democracy back down to the level of the people?
What are supposed to be connections between social capital and democracy?
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