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Social Capital and Cooperation in Central and Eastern Europe: A Theoretical Perspective

  • Murray, Catherine

The transition process in central and eastern Europe (CEE) had a profound effect on how individuals interact. Economic and social institutions have changed, requiring an adaptation process by individuals in the move toward a market economy. How each individual accesses, manipulates and uses their networks will determine the use of their social capital. Within CEE, there is a presumption of low levels of social capital. This paper was written as a conceptual framework for a research project entitled 'Integrated Development of Agricultural and Rural Institutions' (IDARI) in CEE countries. One element of the IDARI project is to understand the emergence and maintenance of cooperative behaviour in light of rural restructuring and institutional change in CEE. A link exists between social capital formation and cooperation amongst individuals, as both concepts imply social interaction and the formation of trust. This paper questions the rationale of applying the contested 'western' concept of social capital to CEE countries. It argues that although the concept was developed to understand processes within established democratic systems, it nevertheless is instrumental for analysing how trust is formed, and for understanding cooperation amongst individuals. As such, this framework reconciles literature from sociological and economic disciplines. Social networks and use of those networks (social capital) is becoming more important in light of accession to the EU, particularly when opportunities within and access to rural and regional development programmes are dependent on existing networks. Social capital is seen as a dynamic entity, a form of institutional change, which leads to innovation in the existing governance structures. Thus social capital provides a powerful explanatory tool for processes of institutional change.

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Paper provided by Humboldt University Berlin, Department of Agricultural Economics in its series Institutional Change in Agriculture and Natural Resources Discussion Papers with number 18831.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:ags:huiain:18831
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  1. Lindon J. Robison & Jan L. Flora, 2003. "The Social Capital Paradigm: Bridging across Disciplines," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1187-1193.
  2. Theesfeld, Insa, 2004. "Constraints on Collective Action in a Transitional Economy: The Case of Bulgaria's Irrigation Sector," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 251-271, February.
  3. Fidrmuc, Jan & Gërxhani, Klarita, 2005. "Formation of Social Capital in Central and Eastern Europe: Understanding the Gap Vis-a-Vis Developed Countries," CEPR Discussion Papers 5068, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. F.W. Gatzweiler, K. Hagedorn, 2002. "The evolution of institutions in transition," International Journal of Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 2(1), pages 37-58.
  5. Paldam, M. & Svendsen, G.T., 2000. "Missing Social Capital and the Transition in Eastern Europe," Papers 00-5, Aarhus School of Business - Department of Economics.
  6. Williamson, Oliver E., 1996. "Transaction cost economics and the Carnegie connection," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 149-155, November.
  7. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 2000. "Walrasian Economics in Retrospect," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2000-04, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  8. Greif, Avner, 1994. "Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 912-50, October.
  9. Annen, Kurt, 2003. "Social capital, inclusive networks, and economic performance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 449-463, April.
  10. Kunioka, Todd & Woller, Gary M., 1999. "In (a) democracy we trust: social and economic determinants of support for democratic procedures in central and eastern Europe," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 28(5), pages 577-596.
  11. Paldam, Martin, 2000. " Social Capital: One or Many? Definition and Measurement," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(5), pages 629-53, December.
  12. Elinor Ostrom, 2000. "Collective Action and the Evolution of Social Norms," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 137-158, Summer.
  13. Eggers, Jorg & Laschewski, Lutz & Schleyer, Christian, 2004. "Agri-Environmental Policy in Germany: Understanding the Role of Regional Administration," Institutional Change in Agriculture and Natural Resources Discussion Papers 18832, Humboldt University Berlin, Department of Agricultural Economics.
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