Social Capital and Grassroots Development: The Case of Roma Self-Governance in Hungary

Kai A. Schafft, David L. Brown

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31 Scopus citations


This study investigates the determinants of Roma local minority self-government (LMSG) capacity in Hungary and the role of Roma LMSGs in community development. Following the work of Woolcock (1998), Granovetter (1973; 1985) and others, we develop and operationalize a multi-dimensional framework of aggregate-level social capital to investigate factors associated with inter-municipal variation in LMSG capacity. We analyze data from a survey of Roma LMSG leaders and demonstrate that LMSGs possess higher institutional capacity in localities where the Roma population, itself, demonstrates high levels of social cohesion: where Roma-majority social networks are characterized by norms of trust and cooperation; and where the local Roma government has effective institutional linkages with extra-local organizations. This study is relevant to broader questions of institutional impacts en minority-majority relations, community-level social network resources, and how the dynamics of local development in the post-socialist context are shaped by local social logics embedded within broader social and historical processes. This paper was originally presented at the 62nd annual meeting of the Rural Sociological Society in Portland, Oregon, August 9, 1998. The authors wish to thank Kulcsár László and Farkas Tibor at the Department of Rural Sociology at the St. István University, Gödöllö, Hungary, for their generous assistance with survey administration. We also wish to thank Linda B. Williams, Frank Young, Robert Torres, M. P. Rouse, Rajeev Patel, and several anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on previous drafts. This research was supported by the Cornell University Graduate School and the Mellon Foundation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-219
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Problems
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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