Wspólnotowy Serwis Informacyjny Badan i Rozwoju - CORDIS

Analytical framework adapted for study of social capital in CEECs

The institutions of rural CEE are unique to their geographical region and historical legacy

The transition process in central and Eastern Europe 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. However the term social capital was devised in a western democratic context. Thus, an analytical framework, especially adapted for the CEE context is required for research into social capital.

There is controversy about the potential for collective action in Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs). Many authors argue that the level of social capital is low in CEECs, whereas others underline that, while trust in authorities and the state may be low, interpersonal networks are present. A result of the research using the framework is that two main obstacles for collective action in rural CEECs are low bridging and linking social capital as well as unclear gains from cooperation. In such a situation, well connected local leaders who provide credible information and establish links among different actor groups and with authorities can be of crucial importance to achieve collective action.

This finding is interesting because most of the literature on social capital does not acknowledge the need for a "mediating agency" but expects cooperation to happen "automatically" where enough social capital is present. However, it also results that leadership becomes difficult where conflicting interests, low general trust and little initiative of actors prevail. A policy conclusion is that better financial and technical support for prospective leaders in rural cooperation projects in CEECs could contribute to the success of initiatives.

The paper entitled "Social Capital and Leadership: Rural Cooperation in Central and Eastern Europe" by Annette Hurrelmann, Catherine Murray and Volker Beckmann, has been submitted to the Journal of Rural Studies in June 2006.

One paper entitled "Social Capital and Cooperation in Central and Eastern Europe - a Theoretical Perspective" by Catherine Murray has been published as an ICAR discussion paper, and will be submitted to a journal for publication.

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