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The State and Social Capital: An Institutional Theory of Generalized Trust

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In the discussion of the sources of social capital, it has been stressed that generalized trust is built up by the citizens themselves through a culture that permeates the networks and organizations of civil society. This approach has run into conceptual problems, and empirical evidence has provided only mixed support. An alternate approach is to highlight how social capital is embedded in and linked to formal political and legal institutions. Not all political institutions matter equally, however. Trust thrives most in societies with effective, impartial, and fair street-level bureaucracies. The causal mechanism between these institutional characteristics and generalized trust is illustrated in a cross-national context.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2008

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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