The accession in May 2004 of eight countries from Eastern Europe to the European Union and the future membership of Romania and Bulgaria in 2007 tends to show the importance, for these post-communist states, to find a new order and to gain more stability and security. Indeed, the end of the Cold War liberates Eastern and Central Europe from communism, but the road to efficient democracy is still long. Membership of the European Union or NATO seems to be a fundamental element for the stabilization process. Nonetheless, external aid (money, settlement of non-governmental organisations ) is not enough and some scholars believe in a more bottom-up way to build democracy. Such is the case with Robert Putnam, who underlined in his works the importance of a civil community (or social capital) capable of developing and strengthening institutions and consequently of building democracy. After explaining the theory of Putnam more in depth, we will discuss if he is right in saying that a sufficient stock of social capital is necessary for the success of democracy when it applies to Eastern Europe.
[...] If we follow Putnam's idea, post-communist states should be affected by a “vicious circle”, prevented them to establish and strengthen formal democratic institutions. Indeed, the absence of a strong civic community is self-reinforcing: “defection, distrust, shirking, exploitation, isolation, disorder, and stagnation [being the characteristics of a lack of social capital] intensify one another in a suffocating miasma of vicious circles”. One of the first main critics on Putnam's works was about his concept of social capital as being a necessary and sufficient condition for democracy. [...]
[...] Bibliography Books and journals: Anderson, Robert, Fish, Steven, Hanson, Stephen and Roeder, Philip, Postcommunism and the theory of democracy, (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2001) Badescu, G., Uslaner, E., Social Capital and the Transition to Democracy (London, Routledge, 2003) Himka, John-Paul, ‘Issues, Outcome and Prospects: The Ukrainian Events', Against the Current, Vol.10, No Mihaylova, Dimitrina Social Capital in Central and Eastern Europe: a critical assessment and literature review (Center for Policy Studies, Central European University, 2004) available at http:// /eps/dev/papers/0511/0511001.pdf Nichols, Thomas, ‘Russian democracy and social capital' Social Science Information, Vol No.4, p.631 Paxton, Pamela ‘Social Capital and Democracy: an interdependent relationship', American Sociological Review, Vol Petro, Nicolai ‘Creating Social Capital in Russia: The Novgorod Model', World Development, No.29(2) Putnam, Robert D., Making democracy work : Civic traditions in Modern Italy (Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 1993) Putnam Robert D., Democracies in Flux : the Evolution of Social Capital in Contemporary Society, (Oxford, University Press, 2002) Rose, Richard and Mishler, William, ‘Trust in untrustworthy institutions: culture and institutional performance in post-communist societies', Centre for the Study of Public Policy, No Rose, Richard and Weller, Craig, ‘What does social capital add to democratic values', Centre for the Study of Public Policy, No Websites: Boix, Carles and Posner, Daniel N., Making Social Capital Work: A Review of Robert Putnam's Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy (Harvard University, 1996): http://www.wcfia.harvard.edu/papers/96-04.pdf Himka, John-Paul, Issues, Outcome and Prospects: The Ukrainian Events, available at: http://www.solidarity-us.org/node/65 Kolybashkina, Nina and Temnenko, Ksenia, Social Capital and Civil Society in the Making of Democracy in the Ukraine: a case-study of Orange Revolution: http://www.emes.net/fileadmin/emes/PDF_files/ISTR_EMES_Paris/PS_3/PS3_S4/PS3 4d_ISTR-EMES_Koly_Temn.pdf Levin, M.A., The Importance of Civic Community for Effective Democracy (1997): http://www.la.utexas.edu/chenry/civil/archives97/csspapers/0011.html R.D. [...]
[...] According to Rose, education and high standards of living (human and material capitals) are likely to favour democratic values. He shows that social capital has in fact less influence on the rejection of undemocratic norms than human capital and the level of economic resources and civic attitudes. As a consequence, the lack of social capital in post-communist countries does not mean lasting democracy is impossible, which is a rather less pessimistic conclusion than Putnam's. Some real-word cases demonstrate that “social networks and the norms of reciprocity associated with that is, the way in which citizens relate to a broader community and solve collective problems, deeply affect the level of democracy. [...]
[...] Then, we cannot argue that this higher level of participation is synonymous of democratic social capital because it can, on the contrary, threaten democratic consolidation and can also decrease the level of tolerance and of the emerging democratic culture. There is a significant literature on the idea that social capital has a different impact when the individuals belong to the majority or the minority ethnic group in a transforming state. Adam and Roncevic clearly explained that social capital depends on the context. [...]
[...] Mishler, ‘Trust in untrustworthy institutions: culture and institutional performance in post-communist societies', Centre for the Study of Public Policy, No R. Rose and C. Weller, ‘What does social capital add to democratic values', Centre for the Study of Public Policy, No p.9 R. Rose and W. Mishler, ‘Trust in untrustworthy institutions: culture and institutional performance in post-communist societies', Centre for the Study of Public Policy, No pp.3 R. Rose and C. Weller, ‘What does social capital add to democratic values', Centre for the Study of Public Policy, No p.10-11 D. [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee