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Social capital and cooperation in Central and Eastern Europe : a theoretical perspective

Sozialkapital und Kooperation in Mittel- und Osteuropa : eine theoretische Betrachtung
[working paper]

Murray, Catherine

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Corporate Editor Humboldt-Universität Berlin, Institut für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften des Landbaus, Fachgebiet Ressourcenökonomie
Abstract "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." (author's abstract)
Keywords social capital; cooperation; willingness to cooperate; Central Europe; Eastern Europe; eastwards expansion; EU expansion; joining the European Union; post-communist society; post-socialist country; transformation; market economy; social relations; social change; social behavior; social network; social institution; confidence; democracy; rural population; institutional change; Europe
Classification Macrosociology, Analysis of Whole Societies
Method descriptive study
Document language English
Publication Year 2005
City Berlin
Page/Pages 25 p.
Series Institutional Change in Agriculture and Natural Resources (ICAR) : Discussion Papers, 9
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications
data provider This metadata entry was indexed by the Special Subject Collection Social Sciences, USB Cologne