Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Klesner on social capital in Latin America

Abstract: Scholars have argued that social capital—understood to mean those social networks, norms, and trust that allow citizens to act together more successfully to pursue shared goals—encourages political participation and a more robust democratic experience. Consequently, international development agencies have made promotion of social capital a major emphasis in recent years. Using data from the 1999-2001 wave of the World Values Survey, I show that in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and Peru this relationship holds true. Greater involvement in nonpolitical organizations does lead to more participation in explicitly political activities. Higher levels of interpersonal trust also promote political participation. However, despite encouraging results from studies of popular participation in the region, Latin American levels of organizational involvement and political participation are moderate by the standards of more mature democracies, and levels of trust are relatively low.

Joseph L. Klesner (2007), “Social Capital and Political Participation in Latin America: Evidence from Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and Peru,” Latin American Research Review 42 (2): 1-32. Available here.

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