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Social capital, migration, ethnic diversity and economic performance

Multidisciplinary evidence from South-East Europe


Adnan Efendic, Bojana Babic and Anna Rebmann

This interdisciplinary book brings an empirical evidence that social capital is an important building block in the reintegration processes, migration challenges and economic dynamism of the SEE communities. Such a conclusion opposes the common belief that (re)establishing social relations in a post-ethnic conflict environment is difficult, or sometimes even impossible. These are indeed societies where trust in people and institutions remains low, but it is often replaced with other forms of social capital emerging on a daily basis, within and between different population strata, either formally but often informally.

Most people who know the region are aware that formal and state institutions in South-East Europe enjoy very low levels of trust. Nearly everybody loves to point to ethnicity as the causal factor behind every difficulty. The authors of this groundbreaking study explore two basic questions: how do people meet their needs and the needs of others when official institutions do not function? And how do members of different ethnic groups experience the role of others and cross symbolic boundaries? The answers, constructed out of empirical evidence using a variety of methods, point to the crucial importance of social capital as an everyday resource, and to the essential role of ethnic, national, and religious diversity in enhancing people's life chances in an unstable environment.

Eric Gordy, Professor of Cultural and Political Sociology, University College London

Since Mark Granovetter many of us know that both over-socialised (macro) level, and under-socialised (narrowly individualist) representations of social world may lead to counter-effective policies. We need to focus on the meso level, where social cooperation is the most real and the most productive. That leads us to the concept of social capital. This is something the authors of this book understand very well. Moreover, applying it, they are able to shed light on human behaviour in the context of the two key phenomena of present day Europe: migration and capacity for self-help during the crises. Great research questions and contribution.

Tomasz Mickiewicz, Professor at Aston University and Honorary Research Fellow at University College London

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Social Capital and Ethnic Diversity – A Qualitative Investigation from the SEE Region (Bojana Babic)


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Social Capital and Ethnic Diversity – A Qualitative Investigation from the SEE Region


Social capital has played an important role in the (re)integration processes of the migrant and nonmigrant populations in postconflict environments in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Serbia and Croatia. This is a general conclusion from the qualitative in-depth analysis of the multidimensional aspects of social capital in these countries (Chapter 3). Specifically, based on the collected data, we were able to identify that challenges in the political and economic environment – followed by a lack of trust in institutions and people – have been replaced by specific or particularized trust in certain individuals, institutions and social networks among all three migrant groups that were studied: external migrants, internal migrants and nonmigrants. The social networks built upon the trust in particular people and institutions, mainly at the local level, have had an important role in managing everyday livelihoods for all the three groups. However, the influence of these networks is limited due to newly established majority-minority relationships, often based on the ethnic structure of the country and other sociocultural characteristics and migrant experiences of all three groups.

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