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Researching Path Dependency Across Time in Italian Regional Political Culture

Case
By: , & Published: 2018 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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Abstract

Robert Putnam’s celebrated book, Making Democracy Work, identified historical, “path-dependent” sources of differences in social capital in Italy’s regions as an explanation for their variations in success at “overcoming dilemmas of collective action.” This case study identifies some of the methodological challenges faced in extending to the contemporary period: (a) the relationships among Putnam’s historical legacy-based levels of social capital, on one hand, and subsequent and current levels of social capital, on the other hand; and (b) the relationships among these sets of measures to variations in contemporary Italian regional institutional performance and sustainability indicators. The results reported indicate (a) that conceptually similar but methodologically dissimilar historic and contemporary social capital levels at the regional level are strongly linked and (b) that historic and contemporary social capital levels are strongly related to contemporary indicators of regional institutional performance and sustainability initiatives.

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