Civic Culture Vs. Apolitical Social Capital: the Case of Moscow Apartment Buildings

Leonid Polishchuk (HSE University, Moscow )
Alexander Rubin (HSE University, Moscow )
Igor Shagalov (HSE University, Moscow )

Abstract: We study the interplay between two cultural traits, one of which is apolitical social capital, which powers up grassroots collective action, and the other – civic culture, which reflects responsibility for social welfare and prompts political participation. We contrast two types of collective action, one of which is civic and the other is not, and present a theory indicating that civic culture augments apolitical social capital in the first type, and impedes it in the second. These predictions are tested in the contemporary urban setting, where in a civic collective action tenants of an apartment building collectively manage funds designated for the building upkeep, and in an un-civic one, build fences and gates around their building. We use a unique database of nearly 30,000 Moscow apartment buildings to demonstrate that apolitical social capital and civic culture are cultural traits that reinforce (complement) each other in the case of a civic collective action, and counteract each other, when a contemplated collective action is un-civic.

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