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Social capital, transition in agriculture, and economic organisation: a theoretical perspective


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  • Valentinov, Vladislav


Social capital is defined as the shared knowledge, trust, and culture, embodied in the structural forms of networks and other stable inter-agent relationships. Social capital has been shown to be more difficult to build than economic capital, and to have greater beneficial effects for community as a whole. The relevance of the social capital concept for transitional agenda is explained by the increasing responsibility of private collective action and grass-roots decisions in managing the business activities in agriculture, since this is required by the more democratic foundations of the market economy. Different forms of business organisations are shown to be differentially but consistently associated with social capital, with the major social capital dependent organisational form being the cooperative. The growing complexity of inter-agent relations (particularly in transitional context) causes the increasing amount of economic responsibility being transferred from authority-based to social capital-based forms of economic organisation, i.e. from markets and hierarchies, based mainly on economic capital, to networks with their primary accent on social capital. The social capital-based organisation in agriculture is particularly important in view of its industry-specific limitations and is represented mainly by cooperatives and farmers’ associations. The optimal role of the government is to invest in social capital in order to enable rural communities to solve their problems by means of private collective action (self-organisation), rather than attempt to substitute the latter. -- G E R M A N V E R S I O N: Sozialkapital wird definiert als geteiltes Wissen, Vertrauen und gemeinsame Kultur, eingebettet in Netzwerkstrukturen und andere stabile Beziehungen zwischen Agenten. Es hat sich gezeigt, dass Sozialkapital schwieriger aufzubauen ist als ökonomisches Kapital und dass es größere Auswirkungen auf die Gemeinschaft als Ganzes hat. Die Relevanz des Sozialkapital-Konzeptes für die Agenda der Transformationsländer wird erklärt durch die wachsende Verantwortung von privaten, kollektiven Handlungen und Basisentscheidungen beim landwirtschaftlichen Betriebsmanagement, wie es für die demokratischen Strukturen der Marktwirtschaft erforderlich ist. Verschiedene Betriebsformen sind unterschiedlich, jedoch durchweg verbunden mit Sozialkapital. Die landwirtschaftlichen Produktionsgenossen-schaften erweisen sich dabei als am meisten abhängig von Sozialkapital. Die wachsende Komplexität der Inter-Agenten-Beziehungen (insbesondere im Kontext des Transformationsprozesses) bewirkt, dass ein steigender Anteil ökonomischer Verantwortung von autoritätsbasierten zu sozialkapital-basierten Organisationsformen übergeht, d. h. von Märkten und Hierarchien, die vor allem auf ökonomischen Kapital basieren, zu Netzwerken mit dem Schwerpunkt auf Sozialkapital. Die sozialkapitalbasierten Organisationen in der Landwirtschaft werden hauptsächlich durch Genossenschaften und Bauernverbände repräsentiert und sind besonders wichtig in Hinblick auf ihre industriespezifischen Beschränkungen. Politische Maßnahmen sollten Investitionen in Sozialkapital unterstützen, um ländliche Gemeinden zu befähigen, ihre Probleme durch private, kollektive Handlungen (Selbstorganisation), anstatt zu versuchen, diese zu ersetzen.

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Paper provided by Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Central and Eastern Europe (IAMO) in its series IAMO Discussion Papers with number 53.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:iamodp:14935

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Keywords: social capital; agricultural cooperative; economic organisation; Sozialkapital; Agrargenossenschaft; ökonomische Organisation;

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Cited by:
  1. Fragkandreas, Thanos & Larsen, Karin, 2009. "Social Capital and Economic Performance: some lessons from Farm Partnerships in Sweden," MPRA Paper 17916, University Library of Munich, Germany.


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