The Type and Role of Social Capital in Post-Transition European Economies
Data publikacji: 31-03-2009
GNPJE 2009;230(3):1-26
Social capital is widely seen as an important factor behind economic development. It facilitates ties between businesses and reduces transaction costs. It also creates an innovation-friendly environment. But research reports also list some negative aspects of social capital, such as the creation of divisions within society and the uncontrolled emergence of various self-interest groups, and, in extreme cases, mafia-type organizations. Another problem is that the very concept of social capital has not been clearly defined in research reports, according to the author. Lissowska sets out to determine if post-socialist countries differ from other economies in the way they use social capital. She starts out by defining social capital as a partially altruistic approach of an individual toward other people. The study is based on data for 23 European countries collected during a European Social Survey in 2006. This body of data makes the author conclude that post-socialist countries have distinct features as far as social capital is concerned, such as a low level of social confidence and a tendency to maintain “close” rather than “remote” social ties. However, other countries such as Portugal, Cyprus and, less markedly, Spain, display similar features, Lissowska notes. These features may result from these countries’ totalitarian past when social ties were more difficult to establish and maintain than today. They also stem from historic cultural factors such as insufficiently developed civil-society traditions in some of these countries, poor quality of government and law enforcement, religious traditions and new social trends such as people’s drive to succeed economically.
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