Social capital and local governance: Exploring the institutional design variable

Vivien Lowndes*, David Wilson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

173 Citations (Scopus)


This article argues that Robert Putnam's social capital thesis is too society-centred and undervalues state agency and associated political factors. It explores the role of institutional design in explaining how governments can shape the development of social capital and its potential influence upon democratic performance. New Labour's programme of 'democratic renewal' within British local government provides an excellent opportunity to assess the relevance of institutional design to arguments about social capital and democracy. We propose that prospects for the creation and mobilization of social capital may depend as much upon the process as the content of institutional design.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)629-647
Number of pages19
JournalPolitical Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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