Social capital and underclass phenomena

Description

The origins of social capital and social cohesion have been much discussed in recent years. This attention is understandable, as we have good reasons to believe that especially social trust among citizens are important in order to solve collective problems, make democracy work, and generate economic growth. Inspired by the comparative welfare state literature this project wants to explore how cross-national levels of social trust are linked to the presence or absence of culturally distinct underclasses. It will do so by analysing the mechanisms which have generated and suppressed divides between "the majority" and "the bottom" in Denmark, Sweden, United Kingdom and USA. By selecting these four countries the project could potentially help to explain two of the largest cross-national puzzles; namely why social capital seems to erode in most so-called liberal welfare regimes, such as UK and USA, and why social trust is so exceptionally high and remains stable in so-called social democratic welfare regimes, such as Denmark and Sweden. The country selection should also make it possible to understand the interplay between ethnic divides and social inequality. Therefore the project selects liberal and social democratic welfare regimes where the ethnic issues respectively have been very salient (US, Denmark) and less salient (UK, Sweden). Thereby it is possible to study "welfare state effects" across countries where the ethnic issues are more or less equally politicised. And it is possible to study "ethnic effects" across countries that belong to the same regime types. Such a historical rooted focused comparison can potentially contribute significantly to our understanding of social capital, social cohesion and trust. One first contribution is to understand the societal and ethnic divides both in socio-economic and discursive terms.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date01/06/200831/12/2013

Funding

  • Velux Fonden

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Denmark
social capital
Sweden
welfare
social cohesion
welfare state
social inequality
economic growth
regime
democracy
citizen
economics
literature