Social Capital

Social Capital

Reaching Out, Reaching In

Edited by Viva Ona Bartkus and James H. Davis

This book showcases new innovative research in economics, politics, sociology, and management regarding the topic. Leading scholars from a variety of disciplines present ground-breaking new research exploring the still-undiscovered value of social capital. The book employs a self-consciously multi-disciplinary approach to address two objectives: reaching out and reaching in. Through theoretical and empirical scholarship, the authors explore the many contexts in which the phenomenon can have impact. In effect, social capital research reaches out to issues of economic well-being, civic participation, educational achievement, knowledge and norm formation, and competitive advantage. Further, the authors investigate the many connections between the core themes of social capital and the pillars on which it rests, including structural networks, cognition, relationships and trust. This book is fundamentally about bridging – bridging across disciplines, units of analysis, and themes.

Chapter 6: Communities, Schools and Voter Turnout: A Case Study in Social Norms

David E. Campbell

Subjects: business and management, organisation studies, public management, politics and public policy, public administration and management, public policy


David E. Campbell This chapter advances the provocative claim that it is not necessary to have a close election in order to observe high voter turnout. Rather, in contrast to conventional wisdom among election observers, we have reason to believe that turnout can increase as electoral competition decreases. This claim is predicated upon the existence of two types of voters: homo politicus, who votes in highly competitive situations because she believes her vote can make a difference; and homo civicus, who votes because he believes that voting is a civic duty. Close examination of voter turnout in both highly and non-competitive elections (as measured by political heterogeneity and homogeneity) reveals that turnout can be high in both situations. In the latter case, civic norms that reinforce voter turnout are essential. The chapter then explores the question of where these norms are generated. While communities are responsible for many norms, some norms are formed earlier in life – thanks to families, friends and schools. A longitudinal study of adolescents reveals that the presence of a vibrant civic climate in high school has a strong correlation with voting as an adult. The logic – or rather, illogic – of collective action is an enduring puzzle in social science (Olson, 1965). Why do people engage in cooperative activity when they could simply free ride on the efforts of others? Why contribute to charity? Why donate blood? Why vote? Indeed, why vote? The question is clearly significant; whoever votes determines who governs. While an...

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