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Active Social Capital

Active Social Capital: Tracing the Roots of Development and Democracy

Anirudh Krishna
Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    Active Social Capital
    Book Description:

    The idea of social capital allows scholars to assess the quality of relationships among people within a particular community and show how that quality affects the ability to achieve shared goals. With evidence collected from sixty-nine villages in India, Krishna investigates what social capital is, how it operates in practice, and what results it can be expected to produce.

    Does social capital provide a viable means for advancing economic development, promoting ethnic peace, and strengthening democratic governance? The world is richer than ever before, but more than a fifth of its people are poor and miserable. Civil wars and ethnic strife continue to mar prospects for peace. Democracy is in place in most countries, but large numbers of citizens do not benefit from it. How can development, peace and democracy become more fruitful for the ordinary citizen? This book shows how social capital is a crucial dimension of any solution to these problems.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50082-1
    Subjects: Political Science, History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. 1 Introduction: Can Social Capital Help Support Development and Democracy?
    (pp. 1-13)

    Five decades and more of state-led development in many less developed countries have failed to make any considerable dent on poverty. Half the population of India and up to three-quarters in some other countries—more than a billion persons in all—continue to live in miserable conditions, earning and spending less than a dollar a day.¹ A third of all children born in these countries will not live beyond the age of forty, it is expected, before malnutrition and disease take their toll (UNDP 1999).

    As the state is beginning to retreat after having failed to fulfill its promises, and...

  5. 2 How Might Social Capital Matter?
    (pp. 14-31)

    Concern with social capital has exploded into public prominence in the 1990s, but a series of works has challenged the validity and utility of this concept. Described by Putnam (1995: 67) as “features of social organization such as networks, norms and social trust that facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefit,” social capital has attracted almost as much criticism as acclaim.

    Its harshest critics have charged that social capital has no independent conceptual basis. It is a result rather than a cause of institutional performance, they charge, thus any effects it might have cannot be verified independently.

    Others, less hostile,...

  6. 3 Structure and Agency: New Political Entrepreneurs and the Rise of Village-Based Collective Action
    (pp. 32-54)

    Before examining the competing hypotheses about social capital presented in the previous chapter, it is necessary to agree upon an appropriate unit of analysis. Political analysts have mostly considered caste and extended patron-client links as the building blocks of political organization in rural India.¹ Because of events occurring within the last two decades, however, new networks and new forms of leadership—based on non-ascriptive criteria—have arisen in villages. These new leaders provide superior opportunities for collective action by villagers, and they help mobilize social capital for diverse economic and political purposes. The village has gained consequently as a unit...

  7. 4 Measuring Social Capital
    (pp. 55-84)

    Before testing the three hypotheses about social capital that were presented in chapter 2, a final set of tasks remains. Variables corresponding to each of these hypotheses must be defined, and measures must be developed to scale these variables in north Indian villages. While variables representing the structuralist hypothesis (Hypothesis 2) are relatively easy to define and measure, special attention must be paid to social capital and agency strength that correspond, respectively, to Hypotheses 1 and 3.

    I will briefly review empirical measures of social capital that are available in the literature. I will then develop a measure to compare...

  8. 5 Understanding Economic Development: Why Do Some Villages Develop Faster than Others?
    (pp. 85-114)

    In chapter 2, we looked at the social capital hypothesis (high social capital leads to superior results in multiple societal domains); at the structuralist hypothesis, which rejects social capital theory (structures matter, social capital is merely a byproduct, a residue of structures); and we looked at the agency hypothesis, which qualifies social capital theory (social capital matters and agency helps convert its stock into a flow of benefits). Chapter 3 discussed how structure and agency look in the context of north Indian villages. The village, it is seen here, is the appropriate unit for evaluating hypotheses related to social capital...

  9. 6 Examining Community Harmony: Why Are Some Villages Peaceful and Others Not?
    (pp. 115-140)

    The birth of the independent Indian nation was marred by widespread and open violence among communities divided by religion, and hundreds of thousands of Indians lost their lives and their property in the accompanying bloodbath. Breaches of public peace have occurred several times since, and the preservation of community harmony continues, along with economic development and democratic participation, to be a primary objective of public policy in India (Balagopal 1995; Brass 1974, 1997b; Engineer 1989; Mayaram 1993; Nandy 1990).

    Policymakers’ plans for community peace have been translated into national laws, and organizations of police and criminal justice have been set...

  10. 7 Democratic Participation in Rural North India: Social Capital and New Political Entrepreneurs
    (pp. 141-162)

    We have seen in the last two chapters how social capital matters for economic development and community peace. Social capital is important for each of these outcomes, we observed, but agency is needed in each case for mobilizing the stock of social capital and obtaining a flow of benefits.

    One other societal outcome remains to be investigated in this book. Proponents of social capital maintain that participation in democracy will also be higher—and more people will be involved actively in a larger range of political activities—in communities where the stock of social capital is high. “Citizens in civic...

  11. 8 Conclusion
    (pp. 163-186)

    Social capital matters significantly for achieving diverse societal objectives, as we saw in the previous chapters, but those communities achieve the best results where capable agents are available along with high social capital. Social capital represents a potential—a propensity for mutually beneficial collective action. Potential needs to be mobilized, however, and directed toward carefully selected ends. Agents assist in these tasks, and they help enhance the productivity of social capital. To conclude this book, I will briefly revisit the evidence that supports this view.

    I will also enlarge upon the crucial role being played in rural Rajasthan and Madhya...

  12. Appendix A: Methodology
    (pp. 187-190)
  13. Appendix B: Details of 60 Villages in Rajasthan
    (pp. 191-194)
  14. Appendix C: Map of Village Balesariya
    (pp. 195-196)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 197-230)
  16. References
    (pp. 231-246)
  17. Index
    (pp. 247-252)