chapter  7
Social capital, ethnicity and support for democracy in the post-communist states
ByKathleen M. Dowley, Brian D. Silver
Pages 25

Few theoretical concepts have received more attention among social scientists in the last half-dozen years than that of ‘social capital,’ particularly among students of countries undergoing democratisation (or in some cases, redemocratisation). Putnam notes that social capital ‘refers to features of social organisation such as trust, norms and networks, that can improve the efficiency of society by facilitating coordinated action’ (Putnam 1993: 167). Thus communities with higher levels of social capital are thought to be able to cooperate more often to overcome social problems, keep their governments more responsive and more honest, and improve democratic institutional performance. Communities with low levels, in contrast, seem unable to break the vicious circle and remain with governments that are less responsive, less efficient and less honest.