WIT Press

Public Action And Social Capital In Rural Areas


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C. Cecchi & E. Basile


This paper deals with the process of building social capital as constrained by the availability of public and private services. The purpose is to show that social capital shapes, both in positive and negative terms, the capacity of local institutions to support development projects and strategies. The analysis shows that a higher level of social capital gives to communities a stronger planning capacity; a lower level of social capital implies that new initiatives are implemented only if they give private individual benefits; a higher level of social capital generates actions that increase and improve social capital itself. The first section outlines the logical links between the concept of social capital and the availability of \“services”. Social capital is seen here as a public good. Section 3 focuses on the relationship between the supply of public services and the level of social capital. Section 4 compares the Italian case with other cases in Northern Europe. The concluding section shows the relationship between marginality and the availability of public goods. It contributes to the analysis of the relationship between social capital and development, showing that there is both a theoretical framework and evidence to justify the \“principle” that public action supporting social capital has a major role in determining the performance of development strategies and actions. Keywords: social capital, rural marginal areas, planning systems. 1 Introduction Social capital is frequently considered as a public good. For example the UK National Statistical [19] agrees with Putnam [21] and adopts this definition:


social capital, rural marginal areas, planning systems.