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Social capital and self-organised collective action: Lessons and insights from a South African community project

Megan Davenport and Rashid M. Hassan

Development Southern Africa, 2020, vol. 37, issue 2, 232-246

Abstract: Through the lens of new institutional economics, this paper provides exploratory analysis of the elements of social capital behind the success of self-organised collective action in a longstanding and effective community-based conservation and development project. Our qualitative institutional analysis suggests that critical elements of project-level structural social capital in the Umgano project case study include: forward-thinking and capable leadership; long-standing partnerships with external agencies; sound operational structures and management; and legitimate participation facilitated by forms of representation that are transparent and accountable to constituents. In accordance with the theory, insights from the study also indicate that successful collective action relies on processes of long-term and earnest trust building, within and across communities, and between communities and external agents. Such insights serve as a point of reference for role-players in similar community-based projects and have the potential to inform future research on resource governance in South Africa.

Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1080/0376835X.2019.1628708

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