Social Capital and the Transition to Democracy


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Kaufmann, A. Kraay and M. Knack and P. Knorringa and I. Wallace and A. Mankiw, D. Romer and D. Montgomery ed. Dasgupta and I. Putnam, R. Leonardi and R. Raiser, C.

Diaspora Activism in France and Italy and Tunisia’s Democratic Transition | Middle East Institute

Haerpfer, T. Nowotny and C. Rosenstone and J. Taking into account internal and external obstacles to these transitions, democracy can take decades to consolidate, particularly in countries with a history of repression and autocracy. Political analysts and politicians have touted Tunisia as a country where democratic transition has occurred in a relatively smooth manner post-dictatorship.

Even mentioning political or social views in public, dissenting or otherwise, was too dangerous, because citizens could never be sure who was listening or how that opinion could impact their livelihoods, families or friends. Tunisia was not unique in this regard during the Ben Ali and Bourguiba regimes.

In general, dictatorships employ civil society repression as a mechanism to prevent civil society from developing into any kind of real competition for the political machine they control. In other words, Tunisian civil society after Bin Ali is already at a disadvantage — there remain trust issues between citizens, social and political capital are still being invested with uncertain returns and outcomes of the political process are not yet entirely clear.


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Thus, to summarise, there are a number of variables at work in the Tunisian case. What is a civil society organisation? A number of international bodies and academic works have defined civil society organisations, and there is consensus that such an organisation is typically not-for-profit, non-governmental and relies on its voluntary membership for decision-making. Finally, and perhaps most importantly for the purposes of this research, it is important to highlight not only the non-governmental nature of a CSO but also the element of voluntary membership. These CSOs have played an important role according to Tunisian academics, politicians, students and citizens.

Furthermore, in the past few years, civil society members were fully involved in proposing constitutional provisions related to free and fair elections. Thus, it can be said that election-related CSOs have played three key roles in Tunisia thus far: educating citizens and raising awareness, encouraging citizens to vote and monitoring elections.


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These CSOs were not limited to their role in the elections, however. Mona Krayim Dridi says that the constitution was a multi-party, multi-group effort, and that there was critical analysis of the constitution by civil society groups before it was adopted. She says that she has noticed a change in civil society and increased levels of awareness after the revolution, but that foreign interference, on both a large and small scale, is undesirable and has been harmful to the democratisation process.

In terms of funding sources, there are several ways civil society organisations can be funded — they can be internally developed but funded from other external non-profits, or completely internally developed and funded, or finally, completely externally developed and funded. Tunisian law indicates that membership subscriptions, public assistance, domestic and foreign grants or association-generated revenues. A strictly institutional account, in contrast, argues that previously existing social organization and culture strongly constrain all economic change, and that the economic arrangements of market capitalism depend on a particular and historically exceptional set of institutions, so that there can be no replications of previous capitalist economies and transitions to them.

It follows that 1 existing capitalist economies provide misleading models of futures for nonmarket economies now experiencing expansion of market activity; 2 the paths of such economies to more extensive markets will differ both among those economies and between them and existing economies; and 3 effective interventions to hasten market expansion will require close analysis of existing social structure, extensive revamping of underlying nonmarket institutions, and continuous monitoring of nonmarket effects with an eye to feedback that will transform the conditions and likely consequences of intervention.

The above discussion, of course, draws cartoons to dramatize contrasts between extreme positions. All the chapters in this volume fall somewhere between these extremes. Nevertheless, the implied continuum from one extreme to another helps identify significant differences among our authors. For example, Polishchuk's essay on "missed markets" criticizes Russian reformers for assuming an extreme version of the liberal scenario. He identifies incomplete democratic institutions as obstacles to economic advance. Yet Polishchuk himself ends up endorsing a relatively liberal position: that if reformers would stimulate the formation of factor markets, other markets would develop in a fairly orderly fashion.

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Leitzel's analysis of Soviet and post-Soviet rule evasion, in contrast, takes a strongly institutional line, stress-. Without drastic institutional reorganization, his analysis implies, Russia will follow a distinctive and dangerous path toward bandit capitalism. In general, the more institutional a position taken by our authors, the more they consider existing state organization to constrain economic change and the less they suppose that expansion of markets will generally promote growth-enhancing governmental arrangements. On the relation between capitalism and democracy, however, arguments array differently along the continuum.

At a liberal extreme, extensive capitalist markets more or less automatically dissolve authoritarian polities and move them toward democracy. Midway across the continuum, causality reverses, with analysts giving priority to democratic institutions; absent some minimum of equality and breadth of citizenship, plus binding consultation and protection of citizens, runs the argument, capitalist economic relations will not work. But at an institutional extreme, each regime changes so differently from others that—whatever the direction of causality—no general functional interdependence exists between capitalism and democracy.

At that extreme, analysts tend to explain the rough empirical correspondence between capitalism and democracy in the contemporary world as a consequence either of joint diffusion from the West or of differential incorporation into a capitalist core. Although theorists of democracy, capitalism, and economic growth commonly take strong positions on how each of these processes covaries with and affects the others, no consensus has emerged among students of these subjects. In between stands Przeworski, who argues forcefully that certain sorts of democratic state institutions—but only certain sorts—provide essential underpinnings for capitalist economic growth.

The debate continues. Ardant, A. North, D. Journal of European Economic History This ground-breaking new volume focuses on the interaction between political, social, and economic change in Central and Eastern Europe and the New Independent States.

Social Capital Construction and Governance in Central Asia

It includes a wide selection of analytic papers, thought-provoking essays by leading scholars in diverse fields, and an agenda for future research. It integrates work on the micro and macro levels of the economy and provides a broad overview of the transition process. This volume broadens the current intellectual and policy debate concerning the historic transition now taking place from a narrow concern with purely economic factors to the dynamics of political and social change.

It questions the assumption that the post-communist economies are all following the same path and that they will inevitably develop into replicas of economies in the advanced industrial West. It challenges accepted thinking and promotes the utilization of new methods and perspectives.

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