The Troika of Sociology, Political Science and Economics
Edited by Gert Tingaard Svendsen and Gunnar Lind Haase Svendsen
Chapter 11: The State
Francisco Herreros Introduction Does the state promote social trust? The literature on social capital does not always agree on this point. The now classical study about social capital, Putnam’s Making Democracy Work (1993) totally disregarded a possible role of the state in the creation of interpersonal trust, focusing instead on a thesis of path dependence to explain the diﬀerences in the levels of social capital between the central and Northern Italian regions as compared with the South, arguing that those diﬀerences could be traced back to an initial gap in social capital between both territories in the period of the Italian city-republics of the eleventh to ﬁfteenth centuries. In his posterior notorious work, Bowling Alone (Putnam, 2000), the state was hardly acquitted from the charge of destroying America’s social capital. There are numerous examples in the literature on social capital of how social capital can be destroyed by conscious actions of the state, as the actions of the Spanish viceroys in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in Southern Italy (Padgen, 1988), the Italian state after the Risorgimento (Huysseune, 2003), or the communist regimes in Eastern Europe (Nichols, 1996: 634–8; Mondak and Gearing, 1998; Dowley and Silver, 2003; Flap and Völker, 2003; Iglic, 2003; Uslaner, 2003). Not everything is bad news for the role of the state on social capital, though. A number of authors have claimed that the state can indeed be a positive factor in the development of social capital, at least measured as interpersonal...
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