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Internal Empires I: Social Institutions of the Frontier

  • Roberto Foa

    ()

    (Department of Government, Harvard University. 1737 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02138.)

  • Anna Nemirovskaya

    ()

    (Laboratory for Comparative Social Research, National Research University Higher School of Economics. Vasilievsky Ostrov 3, Line 10, room 308, St Petersburg, Russia)

  • Elena Mostovova

    ()

    (Laboratory for Comparative Social Research, National Research University Higher School of Economics. Vasilievsky Ostrov 3, Line 10, room 308, St Petersburg, Russia.)

Registered author(s):

    One of the attributes most consistently highlighted in the literature on frontier society is the tendency to spontaneous social organisation. However, despite the resilience of the ‘frontier thesis’ within sociology and political science, it has not been subject to a rigorous empirical examination. Does it constitute a description of the social norms and institution of the western United States, or is it one manifestation of a more general ‘frontier phenomenon’, found in other times and places? In order to answer these questions, this article examines data on the nature of social relations in frontier zones in four countries: Brazil, Russia, Canada and the United States. Taking a wide range of survey items, we find that higher levels of voluntary activity, social trust, tolerance of outgroups, and civic protest are distinctive features of frontier life, and not simply a feature of the American historical experience.

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    File URL: http://www.hse.ru/data/2012/06/02/1252232240/09SOC2012.pdf
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    Paper provided by National Research University Higher School of Economics in its series HSE Working papers with number WP BRP 09/SOC/2013.

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    Length: 44 pages
    Date of creation: 2013
    Date of revision:
    Publication status: Published in WP BRP Series: Sociology / SOC, June 2013, pages 1-44
    Handle: RePEc:hig:wpaper:09/soc/2013
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    1. Knack, Stephen & Keefer, Philip, 1997. "Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff? A Cross-Country Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1251-88, November.
    2. Russell J. Dalton, 2008. "Citizenship Norms and the Expansion of Political Participation," Political Studies, Political Studies Association, vol. 56, pages 76-98, 03.
    3. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution," NBER Working Papers 8460, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
    5. Kenneth L. Sokoloff & Stanley L. Engerman, 2000. "Institutions, Factor Endowments, and Paths of Development in the New World," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 217-232, Summer.
    6. 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.
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