Re-examining Social Capital in Putnam’s Italy: A Reconstruction of Putnam’s Civic and Clerical Indices

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Authors
Gallardo, Vicente
Advisor
Johnson, Jeremy
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Date of Issue
2023-04-28
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Title
Re-examining Social Capital in Putnam’s Italy: A Reconstruction of Putnam’s Civic and Clerical Indices
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Abstract
In his book “Making Democracy Work” Robert Putnam details his decades long experiment in the Italian regions that revolutionized political science. In 1973 the Italian government reformed its regional governments, giving many of the regions the same government structure, similar budgets, and overall implemented a standard governing structure across the regions of Italy. Putnam and his colleagues saw reformation as a unique opportunity to observe the non-political factors that affect government performance, since the structure of the government had theoretically become a constant variable. They discovered a wealth of information and utilized cutting edge statistical methods to measure the efficiency of government and the factors that influence it. These extensive observations resulted in the core discovery of what, to Putnam and his collaborators, ‘made democracy work’: the civic community.” I reconstructed Putnam’s Civic Community Index with similar factors to the ones he utilized: preference voting, referendum turnout, newspaper readership, and scarcity of associations. This index was used in a similar manner to Putnam and was measured against other recreated indices to observe what Putnam called “clericalism.” The reconstructed index incorporates news readership, church attendance, percentage of religious weddings, and percentage of religious divorces. This information is available through the official statistics branch website of the Italian government.
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Spring
Department
Political Science