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Internal Empires I: Social Institutions of the Frontier

Author

Listed:
  • 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.)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Roberto Foa & Anna Nemirovskaya & Elena Mostovova, 2013. "Internal Empires I: Social Institutions of the Frontier," HSE Working papers WP BRP 09/SOC/2013, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hig:wpaper:09/soc/2013
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    File URL: http://www.hse.ru/data/2012/06/02/1252232240/09SOC2012.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
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    3. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2002. "Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1231-1294.
    4. 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.
    5. Russell J. Dalton, 2008. "Citizenship Norms and the Expansion of Political Participation," Political Studies, Political Studies Association, vol. 56, pages 76-98, March.
    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 912-950, October.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social institutions; social capital; settlement patterns; historical institutionalism; frontier thesis;

    JEL classification:

    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification
    • N90 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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