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Social Capital and Protests in the United States

Carolyn Chisadza, Matthew Clance () and Rangan Gupta ()

No 202139, Working Papers from University of Pretoria, Department of Economics

Abstract: In the last decade we have witnessed rising protests in the United States associated with issues that form part of society's social fabric that can either facilitate or break down collective behaviour. Rising social inequalities can cause people to no longer share the same values and force individuals to work against each other. This breakdown in social capital can be a key driver for protests as the marginalised attempt to voice their grievances. Using social capital data from the Social Capital Project and protest data from the GDELT Project for U.S counties, we find that higher social capital decreases different types of protests, moreso demonstrations and violent protests. At a disaggregated level, we find that community engagement and collective efficacy (i.e. level of social organisation) are better predictors of protests in relation to quality of household health and level of condence in institutions. These results remain consistent when controlling for economic and social inequalities, such as income, unemployment and race. The findings highlight the importance of social capital in the development process, particularly in mitigating the incentives to engage in violence.

Keywords: social capital; protests; USA (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D74 O51 Z13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 17 pages
Date: 2021-06
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-soc
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