Monthly Archives: July 2015

My research visit at UFZ Leipzig

I have been awarded a Erasmus Internship Scholarship by European Union to do a research stay at the Department of Urban and Environmental Sociology at Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ in the city of Leipzig (Eastern Germany) during July, August and September.

For this reason, I have decided to create a blog category (“Visiting UFZ Leipzig“) entirely devoted to my impression during this period. By impressions I mean reflections on the research I am conducting and also on the reading material I am consulting on environmental sociology and, particularly, on post-mining and restoration (a center topic in my dissertation). Moreover, I would like to share with you some of the interesting discussions I had so far with some of the department fellow. Well, I also hope to blog on the city and my everyday life in Leipzig, always trying to intertwine both my personal and academic experience.


why blog your field work?

Great post! Another good reason to do so is that not only participants but also co-researchers and/or supervisor, know more about what you’re doing.


Over the last week I’ve posted every day about the ethnographic research I was doing at the Tate Summer School, research carried out with the Tate Schools and Teachers team. Why? Why did I interrupt my normal flow of writing about academic writing and research with a set of posts about my own research? Why was I blogging my research at all?

A lot of people tell me that they are worried about posting about research that is so clearly work in progress. But I want to convince you that there are some good reasons to do so, particularly if you’re doing qualitative work with real live people. And here’s a few of them:

(1) it’s a good record. Writing a blog post forces me to focus on providing a straightforward account of what went on each day. I have to choose the key points and write them succinctly. The…

View original post 964 more words

“Street Phenomenology: The Go-Along as Ethnographic Research Tool” by Kusenbach

Kusenbach, M. 2003. “Street Phenomenology: The Go-Along as Ethnographic Research Tool.” Ethnography 4 (3): 455–485. doi:10.1177/146613810343007.


This article introduces and evaluates the go-along as a qualitative research tool. What sets this technique apart from traditional ethnographic methods such as participant observation and interviewing is its potential to access some of the transcendent and reflexive aspects of lived experience in situ. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in two urban neighborhoods, I examine five themes which go-alongs are particularly suited to explore: environmental perception, spatial practices, biographies, social architecture and social realms. I argue that by exposing the complex and subtle meanings of place in everyday experience and practices, the go-along method brings greater phenomenological sensibility to ethnography.

In short “go-along” is the practice of accompanying things going on as part of daily routines in order to capture expressions, emotions, and interpretations that informants normally keep to themselves or will not talk about (Gross, 2015)

Por que o sistema urbano galego esta composto por urbes de tamanho medio e alta dispersion?

Porque o proceso de mecanizacion e racionalizacion da agricultura se paralizou nalgun momento da historia e, en consecuencia non houbo un proceso de urbanizacion maior. Park o explicaba asi en 1942:

The mechanization and rationalization of agriculture, for instance, has tended to depopulate the countryside, and by converting the farmsted into a factory and the peasant into a wage earner and proletarian, has so stepped up the tempo of rural life that is has brought society as a whole into such a condition of unstable equilibrium that anything apparently may happen, the best as easily the worst (Par, 1942:232)

Unintended consequences of Industrialization and urbanization by Park

The mechanization and rationalization of agriculture, for instance, has tended to depopulate the countryside, and by converting the farmsted into a factory and the peasant into a wage earner and proletarian, has so stepped up the tempo of rural life that is has brought society as a whole into such a condition of unstable equilibrium that anything apparently may happen, the best as easily the worst (Par, 1942:232)



Chapter I. Sociology and the Social Sciences
I. Sociology and “Scientific” History 1

II. Historical and Sociological Facts 6

III. Human Nature and Law 12

IV. History, Natural History, and Sociology 16

V. The Social Organism: Humanity or Leviathan? 24

VI. Social Control and Schools of Thought 27

VII. Social Control and the Collective Mind 36

VIII. Sociology and Social Research 43

Representative Works in Systematic Sociology and Methods of Sociological Research 57
Topics for Written Themes 60
Questions for Discussion 60

Chapter II. Human Nature

I. Introduction
1. Human Interest in Human Nature 64
2. Definition of Human Nature 65
3. Classification of the Materials 68

II. Materials

A. The Original Nature of Man
1. Original Nature Defined. Edward L. Thorndike 73
2. Inventory of Original Tendencies. Edward L. Thorndike 75
3. Man Not Born Human. Robert E. Park 76
4. The Natural Man. Milicent W. Shinn 82
5. Sex Differences. Albert Moll 85
6. Racial Differences. C. S. Myers 89
7. Individual Differences. Edward L. Thorndike 92

B. Human Nature and Social Life
1. Human Nature and Its Remaking. W. E. Hocking 95
[Pg x]2. Human Nature, Folkways, and the Mores. William G. Sumner 97
3. Habit and Custom, the Individual and the General Will. Ferdinand Tönnies 100
4. The Law, Conscience, and the General Will. Viscount Haldane 102

C. Personality and the Social Self
1. The Organism as Personality. Th. Ribot 108
2. Personality as a Complex. Morton Prince 110
3. The Self as the Individual’s Conception of His Rôle. Alfred Binet 113
4. The Natural Person versus the Social and Conventional Self. L. G. Winston 117
5. The Divided Self and Moral Consciousness. William James 119
6. Personality of Individuals and of Peoples. W. v. Bechterew 123

D. Biological and Social Heredity
1. Nature and Nurture. J. Arthur Thomson 126
2. Inheritance of Original Nature. C. B. Davenport 128
3. Inheritance of Acquired Nature: Tradition. Albert G. Keller 134
4. Temperament, Tradition, and Nationality. Robert E. Park 135

III. Investigations and Problems

1. Conceptions of Human Nature Implicit in Religious and Political Doctrines 139
2. Literature and the Science of Human Nature 141
3. Research in the Field of Original Nature 143
4. The Investigation of Human Personality 143
5. The Measurement of Individual Differences 145

Selected Bibliography 147
Topics for Written Themes 154
Questions for Discussion 155

Chapter III. Society and the Group

I. Introduction
1. Society, the Community, and the Group 159
[Pg xi]2. Classification of the Materials 162

II. Materials

A. Society and Symbiosis
1. Definition of Society. Alfred Espinas 165
2. Symbiosis (literally “living together”). William M. Wheeler 167
3. The Taming and the Domestication of Animals. P. Chalmers Mitchell 170

B. Plant Communities and Animal Societies
1. Plant Communities. Eugenius Warming 173
2. Ant Society. William E. Wheeler 180

C. Human Society
1. Social Life. John Dewey 182
2. Behavior and Conduct. Robert E. Park 185
3. Instinct and Character. L. T. Hobhouse 190
4. Collective Representation and Intellectual Life. Émile Durkheim 193

D. The Social Group
1. Definition of the Group. Albion W. Small 196
2. The Unity of the Social Group. Robert E. Park 198
3. Types of Social Groups. S. Sighele 200
4. Esprit de Corps, Morale, and Collective Representations of Social Groups. William E. Hocking 205

III. Investigations and Problems
1. The Scientific Study of Societies 210
2. Surveys of Communities 211
3. The Group as a Unit of Investigation 212
4. The Study of the Family 213

Selected Bibliography 217
Topics for Written Themes 223
Questions for Discussion 224

Chapter IV. Isolation

I. Introduction
1. Geological and Biological Conceptions of Isolation 226
2. Isolation and Segregation 228
3. Classification of the Materials 230

II. Materials

A. Isolation and Personal Individuality
1. Society and Solitude. Francis Bacon 233
[Pg xii]2. Society in Solitude. Jean Jacques Rousseau 234
3. Prayer as a Form of Isolation. George Albert Coe. 235
4. Isolation, Originality, and Erudition. T. Sharper Knowlson 237

B. Isolation and Retardation
1. Feral Men. Maurice H. Small 239
2. From Solitude to Society. Helen Keller 243
3. Mental Effects of Solitude. W. H. Hudson 245
4. Isolation and the Rural Mind. C. J. Galpin 247
5. The Subtler Effects of Isolation. W. I. Thomas. 249

C. Isolation and Segregation
1. Segregation as a Process. Robert E. Park 252
2. Isolation as a Result of Segregation. L. W. Crafts and E. A. Doll 254

D. Isolation and National Individuality
1. Historical Races as Products of Isolation. N. S. Shaler 257
2. Geographical Isolation and Maritime Contact. George Grote 260
3. Isolation as an Explanation of National Differences. William Z. Ripley 264
4. Natural versus Vicinal Location in National Development. Ellen C. Semple 268

III. Investigations and Problems
1. Isolation in Anthropogeography and Biology 269
2. Isolation and Social Groups 270
3. Isolation and Personality 271

Bibliography: Materials for the Study of Isolation 273
Topics for Written Themes 277
Questions for Discussion 278

Chapter V. Social Contacts

I. Introduction
1. Preliminary Notions of Social Contact 280
2. The Sociological Concept of Contact 281
3. Classification of the Materials 282

II. Materials

A. Physical Contact and Social Contact
1. The Frontiers of Social Contact. Albion W. Small 288
2. The Land and the People. Ellen C. Semple 289
[Pg xiii]3. Touch and Social Contact. Ernest Crawley 291

B. Social Contact in Relation to Solidarity and to Mobility
1. The In-Group and the Out-Group. W. G. Sumner. 293
2. Sympathetic Contacts versus Categoric Contacts. N. S. Shaler 294
3. Historical Continuity and Civilization. Friedrich Ratzel 298
4. Mobility and the Movement of Peoples. Ellen C. Semple 301

C. Primary and Secondary Contacts
1. Village Life in America (from the Diary of a Young Girl). Caroline C. Richards 305
2. Secondary Contacts and City Life. Robert E. Park. 311
3. Publicity as a Form of Secondary Contact. Robert E. Park 315
4. From Sentimental to Rational Attitudes. Werner Sombart 317
5. The Sociological Significance of the “Stranger.” Georg Simmel 322

III. Investigations and Problems
1. Physical Contacts 327
2. Touch and the Primary Contacts of Intimacy 329
3. Primary Contacts of Acquaintanceship 330
4. Secondary Contacts 331

Bibliography: Materials for the Study of Social Contacts 332
Topics for Written Themes 336
Questions for Discussion 336

Chapter VI. Social Interaction

I. Introduction
1. The Concept of Interaction 339
2. Classification of the Materials 341

II. Materials

A. Society as Interaction
1. The Mechanistic Interpretation of Society. Ludwig Gumplowicz 346
[Pg xiv]2. Social Interaction as the Definition of the Group in Time and Space. Georg Simmel 348

B. The Natural Forms of Communication
1. Sociology of the Senses: Visual Interaction. Georg Simmel 356
2. The Expression of the Emotions. Charles Darwin 361
3. Blushing. Charles Darwin 365
4. Laughing. L. Dugas 370

C. Language and the Communication of Ideas
1. Intercommunication in the Lower Animals. C. Lloyd Morgan 375
2. The Concept as the Medium of Human Communication. F. Max Müller 379
3. Writing as a Form of Communication. Charles H. Judd 381
4. The Extension of Communication by Human Invention. Carl Bücher 385

D. Imitation
1. Definition of Imitation. Charles H. Judd 390
2. Attention, Interest, and Imitation. G. F. Stout 391
3. The Three Levels of Sympathy. Th. Ribot 394
4. Rational Sympathy. Adam Smith 397
5. Art, Imitation, and Appreciation. Yrjö Hirn 401

E. Suggestion
1. A Sociological Definition of Suggestion. W. v. Bechterew 408
2. The Subtler Forms of Suggestion. Albert Moll 412
3. Social Suggestion and Mass or “Corporate” Action. W. v. Bechterew 415

III. Investigations and Problems
1. The Process of Interaction 420
2. Communication 421
3. Imitation 423
4. Suggestion 424

Selected Bibliography 425
Topics for Written Themes 431
Questions for Discussion 431

Chapter VII. Social Forces

I. Introduction
1. Sources of the Notion of Social Forces 435
2. History of the Concept of Social Forces 436
[Pg xv]3. Classification of the Materials 437

II. Materials

A. Trends, Tendencies, and Public Opinion
1. Social Forces in American History. A. M. Simons 443
2. Social Tendencies as Social Forces. Richard T. Ely 444
3. Public Opinion and Legislation in England. A. V. Dicey 445

B. Interests, Sentiments, and Attitudes
1. Social Forces and Interaction. Albion W. Small 451
2. Interests. Albion W. Small 454
3. Social Pressures. Arthur F. Bentley 458
4. Idea-Forces. Alfred Fouillée 461
5. Sentiments. William McDougall 464
6. Social Attitudes. Robert E. Park 467

C. The Four Wishes: A Classification of Social Forces
1. The Wish, the Social Atom. Edwin B. Holt 478
2. The Freudian Wish. John B. Watson 482
3. The Person and His Wishes. W. I. Thomas 488

III. Investigations and Problems
1. Popular Notions of Social Forces 491
2. Social Forces and History 493
3. Interests, Sentiments, and Attitudes as Social Forces 494
4. Wishes and Social Forces 497

Selected Bibliography 498
Topics for Written Themes 501
Questions for Discussion 502

Chapter VIII. Competition

I. Introduction
1. Popular Conceptions of Competition 505
2. Competition a Process of Interaction 507
3. Classification of the Materials 511

II. Materials

A. The Struggle for Existence
1. Different Forms of the Struggle for Existence. J. Arthur Thomson 513
2. Competition and Natural Selection. Charles Darwin 515
3. Competition, Specialization, and Organization. Charles Darwin 519
[Pg xvi]4. Man: An Adaptive Mechanism. George W. Crile 522

B. Competition and Segregation
1. Plant Migration, Competition, and Segregation. F. E. Clements 526
2. Migration and Segregation. Carl Bücher 529
3. Demographic Segregation and Social Selection. William Z. Ripley 534
4. Inter-racial Competition and Race Suicide. Francis A. Walker 539

C. Economic Competition
1. Changing Forms of Economic Competition. John B. Clark 544
2. Competition and the Natural Harmony of Individual Interests. Adam Smith 550
3. Competition and Freedom. Frédéric Bastiat 551
4. Money and Freedom. Georg Simmel 552

III. Investigations and Problems
1. Biological Competition 553
2. Economic Competition 554
3. Competition and Human Ecology 558
4. Competition and the “Inner Enemies”: the Defectives, the Dependents, and the Delinquents 559

Selected Bibliography 562
Topics for Written Themes 562
Questions for Discussion 563

Chapter IX. Conflict

I. Introduction
1. The Concept of Conflict 574
2. Classification of the Materials 576

II. Materials

A. Conflict as Conscious Competition
1. The Natural History of Conflict. W. I. Thomas 579
2. Conflict as a Type of Social Interaction. Georg Simmel 582
3. Types of Conflict Situations. Georg Simmel 586

B. War, Instincts, and Ideals
1. War and Human Nature. William A. White 594
2. War as a Form of Relaxation. G. T. W. Patrick 598
[Pg xvii]3. The Fighting Animal and the Great Society. Henry Rutgers Marshall 600

C. Rivalry, Cultural Conflicts, and Social Organization

1. Animal Rivalry. William H. Hudson 604
2. The Rivalry of Social Groups. George E. Vincent 605
3. Cultural Conflicts and the Organization of Sects. Franklin H. Giddings 610

D. Racial Conflicts
1. Social Contacts and Race Conflict. Robert E. Park 616
2. Conflict and Race Consciousness. Robert E. Park 623
3. Conflict and Accommodation. Alfred H. Stone 631

III. Investigations and Problems
1. The Psychology and Sociology of Conflict, Conscious Competition, and Rivalry 638
2. Types of Conflict 639
3. The Literature of War 641
4. Race Conflict 642
5. Conflict Groups 643

Selected Bibliography 645
Topics for Written Themes 660
Questions for Discussion 661

Chapter X. Accommodation

I. Introduction
1. Adaptation and Accommodation 663
2. Classification of the Materials 666

II. Materials

A. Forms of Accommodation
1. Acclimatization. Daniel G. Brinton 671
2. Slavery Defined. H. J. Nieboer 674
3. Excerpts from the Journal of a West India Slave Owner. Matthew G. Lewis 677
4. The Origin of Caste in India. John C. Nesfield 681
5. Caste and the Sentiments of Caste Reflected in Popular Speech. Herbert Risley 684

B. Subordination and Superordination
1. The Psychology of Subordination and Superordination. Hugo Münsterberg 688
[Pg xviii]2. Social Attitudes in Subordination: Memories of an Old Servant. An Old Servant 692
3. The Reciprocal Character of Subordination and Superordination. Georg Simmel 695
4. Three Types of Subordination and Superordination. Georg Simmel 697

C. Conflict and Accommodation
1. War and Peace as Types of Conflict and Accommodation. Georg Simmel 703
2. Compromise and Accommodation. Georg Simmel 706

D. Competition, Status, and Social Solidarity
1. Personal Competition, Social Selection, and Status. Charles H. Cooley 708
2. Personal Competition and the Evolution of Individual Types. Robert E. Park 712
3. Division of Labor and Social Solidarity. Émile Durkheim 714

III. Investigations and Problems
1. Forms of Accommodation 718
2. Subordination and Superordination 721
3. Accommodation Groups 721
4. Social Organization 723

Selected Bibliography 725
Topics for Written Themes 732
Questions for Discussion 732

Chapter XI. Assimilation

I. Introduction
1. Popular Conceptions of Assimilation 734
2. The Sociology of Assimilation 735
3. Classification of the Materials 737

II. Materials

A. Biological Aspects of Assimilation
1. Assimilation and Amalgamation. Sarah E. Simons 740
2. The Instinctive Basis of Assimilation. W. Trotter 742

B. The Conflict and Fusion of Cultures
1. The Analysis of Blended Cultures. W. H. R. Rivers 746
2. The Extension of Roman Culture in Gaul. John H. Cornyn 751
3. The Competition of the Cultural Languages. E. H. Babbitt 754
[Pg xix]4. The Assimilation of Races. Robert E. Park 756

C. Americanization as a Problem in Assimilation
1. Americanization as Assimilation 762
2. Language as a Means and a Product of Participation 763
3. Assimilation and the Mediation of Individual Differences 766

III. Investigations and Problems
1. Assimilation and Amalgamation 769
2. The Conflict and Fusion of Cultures 771
3. Immigration and Americanization 772

Selected Bibliography 775
Topics for Written Themes 783
Questions for Discussion 783

Chapter XII. Social Control

I. Introduction
1. Social Control Defined 785
2. Classification of the Materials 787

II. Materials

A. Elementary Forms of Social Control
1. Control in the Crowd and the Public. Lieut. J. S. Smith 800
2. Ceremonial Control. Herbert Spencer 805
3. Prestige. Lewis Leopold 807
4. Prestige and Status in South East Africa. Maurice S. Evans 811
5. Taboo. W. Robertson Smith 812

B. Public Opinion
1. The Myth. Georges Sorel 816
2. The Growth of a Legend. Fernand van Langenhove 819
3. Ritual, Myth, and Dogma. W. Robertson Smith 822
4. The Nature of Public Opinion. A. Lawrence Lowell 826
5. Public Opinion and the Mores. Robert E. Park 829
6. News and Social Control. Walter Lippmann 834
7. The Psychology of Propaganda. Raymond Dodge 837

C. Institutions
1. Institutions and the Mores. W. G. Sumner 841
2. Common Law and Statute Law. Frederic J. Stimson 843
[Pg xx]3. Religion and Social Control. Charles A. Ellwood 846

III. Investigations and Problems
1. Social Control and Human Nature 848
2. Elementary Forms of Social Control 849
3. Public Opinion and Social Control 850
4. Legal Institutions and Law 851

Selected Bibliography 854
Topics for Written Themes 862
Questions for Discussion 862

Chapter XIII. Collective Behavior

I. Introduction
1. Collective Behavior Defined 865
2. Social Unrest and Collective Behavior 866
3. The Crowd and the Public 867
4. Crowds and Sects 870
5. Sects and Institutions 872
6. Classification of the Materials 874

II. Materials
A. Social Contagion
1. An Incident in a Lancashire Cotton Mill 878
2. The Dancing Mania of the Middle Ages. J. F. C. Hecker 879

B. The Crowd
1. The “Animal” Crowd 881
a) The Flock. Mary Austin 881
b) The Herd. W. H. Hudson 883
c) The Pack. Ernest Thompson Seton 886
2. The Psychological Crowd. Gustave Le Bon 887
3. The Crowd Defined. Robert E. Park 893

C. Types of Mass Movements
1. Crowd Excitements and Mass Movements: The Klondike Rush. T. C. Down 895
2. Mass Movements and the Mores: The Woman’s Crusade. Annie Wittenmyer 898
3. Mass Movements and Revolution
a) The French Revolution. Gustave Le Bon 905
b) Bolshevism. John Spargo 909
[Pg xxi]4. Mass Movements and Institutions: Methodism. William E. H. Lecky 915

III. Investigations and Problems
1. Social Unrest 924
2. Psychic Epidemics 926
3. Mass Movements 927
4. Revivals, Religious and Linguistic 929
5. Fashion, Reform, and Revolution 933

Selected Bibliography 934
Topics for Written Themes 951
Questions for Discussion 951

Chapter XIV. Progress

I. Introduction
1. Popular Conceptions of Progress 953
2. The Problem of Progress 956
3. History of the Concept of Progress 958
4. Classification of the Materials 962

II. Materials

A. The Concept of Progress
1. The Earliest Conception of Progress. F. S. Marvin 965
2. Progress and Organization. Herbert Spencer 966
3. The Stages of Progress. Auguste Comte 968
4. Progress and the Historical Process. Leonard T. Hobhouse 969

B. Progress and Science
1. Progress and Happiness. Lester F. Ward 973
2. Progress and Prevision. John Dewey 975
3. Progress and the Limits of Scientific Prevision. Arthur J. Balfour 977
4. Eugenics as a Science of Progress. Francis Galton 979

C. Progress and Human Nature
1. The Nature of Man. George Santayana 983
2. Progress and the Mores. W. G. Sumner 983
3. War and Progress. James Bryce 984
4. Progress and the Cosmic Urge
a) The Élan Vitale. Henri Bergson 989
b) The Dunkler Drang. Arthur Schopenhauer 994

III. Investigations and Problems
1. Progress and Social Research 1000
2. Indices of Progress 1002

Selected Bibliography 1004
Topics for Written Themes 1010
Questions for Discussion 1010

The new production of knowledge: The dynamics of science and research in contemporary societies

In this provocative and broad-ranging work, the authors argue that the ways in which knowledge – scientific, social and cultural – is produced are undergoing fundamental changes at the end of the twentieth century. They claim that these changes mark a distinct shift into a new mode of knowledge production which is replacing or reforming established institutions, disciplines, practices and policies.

Identifying features of the new mode of knowledge production – reflexivity, transdisciplinarity, heterogeneity – the authors show how these features connect with the changing role of knowledge in social relations. While the knowledge produced by research and development in science and technology is accorded central concern, the authors also outline the changing dimensions of social scientific and humanities knowledge and the relations between the production of knowledge and its dissemination through education.

Re-Thinking Science: Knowledge and the Public in an Age of Uncertainty

“Re-Thinking Science” presents an account of the dynamic relationship between society and science. Despite the mounting evidence of a much closer, interactive relationship between society and science, current debate still seems to turn on the need to maintain a ‘line’ to demarcate them. The view persists that there is a one-way communication flow from science to society – with scant attention given to the ways in which society communicates with science.

The authors argue that changes in society now make such communications both more likely and more numerous, and that this is transforming science not only in its research practices and the institutions that support it but also deep in its epistemological core. To explain these changes, Nowotny, Scott and Gibbons have developed an open, dynamic framework for re-thinking science.

The authors conclude that the line which formerly demarcated society from science is regularly transgressed and that the resulting closer interaction of science and society signals the emergence of a new kind of science: contextualized or context-sensitive science. The co-evolution between society and science requires a more or less complete re-thinking of the basis on which a new social contract between science and society might be constructed. In their discussion the authors present some of the elements that would comprise this new social contract.

Urbanismo en la ciudad post-socialista: un viejo y no gentrificado parque en el centro de Gdynia (Polonia)

Las dinámicas urbanas en la sociedad industrial capitalista condicionan en gran medida la forma de entender la calle, la forma de hacer uso de ella. Me ha parecido formidable el artículo de Manuel Delgado en su blog personal “El carrer com a espai perdut” (la calle como un espacio perdido). En el habla de como los niños son expulsados de lo que un día fue su “imperio natural”: los barrios, la calle, ámbito de socialización fundamental y del que ahora se les preserva por “amparar la caricatura que de ellos se ha hecho”. “Acuartelados” en casa o en la escuela, conentrándose en especios singulares para “el consumo y la estupidez”, poniéndose en manos de monitores que los monitorizan, los protegen de la “calle”, al tiempo que protegen a esa misma calle-ahora gentrificada y bonita pero desierta de niños- de la dosis supletoria de maraña que los niños siempre están en condiciones de añadir. Negando a los niños el derecho a la ciudad, continúa, se les niega a la ciudad mantener activada su propia infancia. (Ver también este)

Este artículo me ha recordado a una escena que durante varios meses se repetía en mi vida cotidiana en la ciudad polaca de Gdynia. Durante una temporada solía escribir mi tesis doctoral en la biblioteca pública y a menudo hacía descansos para pasear y comer algo en un parque cercano. Considero interesante esta reflexión por lo excepcional de esta experiencia dado que en Gdynia, al igual que en otras muchas ciudades post-socialistas, también es pertinente hablar de una “pérdida de la calle” y espacio público en general. Así fue como lo describí en su día. También saqué algunas fotos.

Es habitual escuchar un bullicio de gente charlando junto con las voces de niños jugueteando por la plaza. Suelen ser un grupo de unos 6 o 7, con edades comprendidas entre los 2 y los 10 años. A simple vista se puede ver una amigable relación entre ellos. El mayor juega con una botella de plástico, mientras el más pequeño, entusiasmado, no le quita el ojo de encima. Lo mira con signos de admiración, como si de un tesoro se tratase. De vez en cuando surge algún conflicto, nada que no arreglen ellos mismos, y si no es así, allí está algún adulto para impedirlo. En una de las fotos, una señora sentada en el banco llama la atención a uno de los chicos por haber empujar una chica, ambos de unos 5 años. Una pareja permanece sentada amorosamente en otro de los bancos. Yo, como tantos días, observo estas escenas mientras tomo mi almuerzo.

2012-08-28 15.54.00 2012-08-28 15.54.28 2012-08-30 11.52.51 2012-08-30 11.53.02

Social capital and development

See bellow a draft/notes I took before my seminar on social capital and development at Gdansk University of Technology:

We have a tendency to think that urban planning, development are one thing and politics another thing. Here, in Spain, and in the whole Europe. Why politics matters. Let´s see how traditional societies worked. I mean the pre-industrial societies. People needed a dwelling and they build it. They needed a path to carry out goods and they build it. Hence, there was a direct relation between the individuals and the territory, i.e. the resources. We can say that urban and economics problems were solved by mean a unidirectional relationship. In these societies, the traditional societies, everything is solved in a relatively easy way. When you need a dwelling you build a hut or even a cave.
But in current and complex societies, those that are built up over the years and that accelerates as of a triple process of historical change known as industrial revolution, the liberal or French revolution and the construction of the anteroom of the current Modern State. Let´s say that the Modern State as we now understand it, is the result of those revolutions. In other words, a State where comes first the individual. Unlike Middle age when the statements were first. In two words, a historical process that give way to the current industrial and capitalist society.
But what lies beneath all this facts in sociological terms is that society becomes much more complex. And it seems that such complexity is growing up to date. Hence, if a problem of dwelling in a traditional society unidirectionally, I insist, I need a house and I build it. I am hungry I hunt deers or plant potatoes.
But in the complex, industrial, urban and capitalist societies this isn’t it. You live in a dense city so we need to agree where one or another build their home and you can´t no longer plant potatoes or hunt beers. Here is when the State appears as a way to solve all our problems. The intermediation of the State will guarantee that people is going to have job and dwelling. The question is that now we still need to work and houses but now it depends on macro factors due to the introduction of a monetary system, political system, media system etc. and, particularly, over the last decades global institutions.
And it is here when such concepts as local or regional development show up. Because regions and communities can no longer decide on their destination. Here is when economics sciences and social sciences start to worry about making possible all regions in the world become prosper. Especially those which did not get to experience the industrial revolution. Since the beginning of the twenty century, many thinkers where debating on the concept of development, regional development.
There is a huge literature on development. HUGE. However, Two main streams.
The first has to do with the so called Modernization theories. Best represented by Walt Whitman Rostow and his original work:
Rostow, W. W. (1990). The stages of economic growth: A non-communist manifesto. Cambridge University Press.
The essence of modernization theories is that the only matter to get the desirable development of a region is simply follow the steps of industrial revolution, i.e. follow the steps of England, Germany and US. In others word, experience an industrial and urbanization revolution. Hence, the State just need to invest on roads, infrastructures, technology, encourage investors, industrial and real State investors because this is going create jobs and jobs will make people independent and happy. And that is. Those are the steps.
Modernisation theory is subject to criticism originating among socialist and free-market ideologies, world-systems theorists, globalization theorists and dependency theorists, social network theories and, finally, social capital theories.
Social capital has to do with good relations between people, acquaintance, neighbours, community members and even unknown people within a given region. You don’t know them, but you trust them, because there are reasons to trust them. When there is no reason to ban your kid going to school alone. Yes, because it is pretty connected to economy and development.
That said, let me introduce you the concept from a more theoretical approach. When we talk on economic development or growth it is pretty common mention such aspects as financial capital, physical capital, human capital, technological capital. We see them as essentials of development. However, such ways of capital not always are sufficient to explain and understand why certain regions thrive and other regions don´t. For instance, Spain, over the last 15 years has never got so much funds, we have never seen such human capital as now, in terms of university graduated generations. All this types of capital often overlook the social dimension of the society. They overlook how people interact, how is the integration of the people in their own neighbourhoods, as well as the way people behave as economic agents within their communities.
It is, after all, another type of capital known as social capital and which theories have multiply over the last two decades. No more, just two decades. We could say that these theories are still in diapers. Why, because there are many different perspective both theoretical and empirical. In any case, it is worth mentioning the three main streams which are best represented by these three authors. Coleman, Bourdieu and Putnam.
Coleman, J. S. (1988). Social capital in the creation of human capital.American journal of sociology, S95-S120.
Bourdieu, P. (2011). The forms of capital.(1986). Cultural theory: An anthology, 81-93.
Putnam, R. D., Leonardi, R., & Nanetti, R. Y. (1994). Making democracy work: Civic traditions in modern Italy. Princeton university press.
Putnam, R. D. (2001). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. Simon and Schuster.
Specially the last one or least, in terms of local development. His work comes to say that both democracy and economic performance strongly depends in large part on the horizontal bonds that make up social capital.
It is possible to speak of social capital as the norms, values, attitudes and beliefs that govern interactions among people and institutions and predispose to cooperation and mutual assistance. In other words, a given region can have great potential of growth in base of the natural or physical wealth, count with strong sources of financing (like European Union), having a very highly qualified population but, if there are no conditions for solid social relations. In other words, if there are no shared norms, values, attitudes and beliefs that grease the relationships between people and institutions, development could not be entirely feasible. Thus, communities where there is no social cohesion, economic progress could be clearly slowed.
Let me put you an example, silly but clear example. The other day in the cafeteria of the faculty of economics I was waiting in the queue, as most of the people and after ten minutes waiting I see a couple of young ladies, very fashion, going straight to the head of the line and ordering their stuff. How you feel in that situation. So when it happens in a macro level, we talk on a lack of social capital. No rule, no norm, no trust. And you, as possible entrepreneur, you won´t waste your time in a place where there is no rule, no trust, no norm. Why, because we people want to make sure that our effort is going to be rewarded. If you live in a place where all people know each other, you share the same square, the same stores; your kids can go alone to school. You trust the place you live. In that case, you could get involved in business or whatever initiative, because you are sure that such effort will come back in one or another way. But you won’t do it in a place where, first of all, you don’t even say hello to your neighbourhood. Second, you share nothing with then. Or let me put an extreme example, you won´t start up a business if there is a mafia around. (In Spain sometimes mafia is in the government).
What is more, if the city where you live is full of social capital then you may attract newcomers that want to live here. And among that newcomers there could be also foreign investors that want not only locate their call centres.
In this sense, there is an agreement within the social sciences to consider social capital as a key to address the social, economic, financial and environmental pressures (Jordan et al factor, 2010;. Michelini, 2013; Lemon et al. , 2013)). In other words, communities with high reserves of social capital are more resistant to changes in the context of globalization and climate change. In other words, if global economy crash, certain non-embedded (Granovetter) first bye bye.
Michelini, Juan J. 2013. “Small farmers and social capital in development projects: Lessons from failures in Argentina’s rural periphery.” Journal of Rural Studies 30:99-109. DOI: 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2013.01.001
Jordan, Jeffrey L., Bulent Anil and Abdul Munasib. 2010. “Community Development and Local Social Capital.” Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics 42:143-159.
Limón, J. A. G., Toscano, E. V., & Garrido, F. E. (2013) La contribución de los agricultores al capital social: evidencias desde Andalucía. VI Congreso Español de Sociología.
Research has shown that communities with high reserves of social capital have a greater capacity to deal with disputes, to share useful information and execute successful development projects, while communities with similar provision of traditional production factors such as capital natural, physical or human, they do not achieve comparable levels of economic progress (Trigilia, 2001; Woodhouse, 2006)
Trigilia, C. (2001). Social capital and local development. European Journal of Social Theory, 4(4), 427-442.
Woodhouse, Andrew. 2006. “Social capital and economic development in regional Australia: a case study.” Journal of Rural Studies 20:83-94. DOI: 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2005.07.003
Finally, this is an attempt to classify different type of social capital.

I hope you have some question, but let me first formulate one, is your community, or the whole region you live in, full of social capital, and why?