Why can collective action fail in Local Agri-food Systems? A social network analysis of cheese producers in Aculco, Mexico
Collective trademark and regional product qualification in food-processing industries have become a growing challenge for farmers in developing countries. This challenge is the target of collective action-based programs aiming at framing the cooperation context that would enable a local community to turn inherited resources and know-how into new market opportunities. Literature acknowledges that social capital is a crucial local resource for successful collective actions since it is a source of trust and collective commitment within a community. This paper deals with testing the role of this resource in the collective action case of the cheese producers in Aculco (Mexico). Focusing on the connectedness dimension of social capital, we propose an original methodology that relies on the multiplex and structural properties of social networks. This allows us to disentangle the opposite and ambivalent effects of social capital on the ability of a community to reach the goals assigned by the collective action program. Our empirical study shows that these critical properties can work in favor of adherence to collective action but can also create elite capture, clannish behaviors and entry barriers, thus showing a failure of collective action.
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