Does Social Capital Affect Immigrant Political Participation? Lessons from a Small-N Study of Migrant Political Participation in Rome



Social capital captures the idea that relationships hold value. While this idea has intuitive appeal, there is significant debate regarding its utility to political science research. This article employs original data collected in Rome, Italy, to test a new model that recognizes the distinction between levels of social capital and introduces the idea of conflict between these levels into the field’s current theorizing on immigrant political participation. The findings presented here lend further support for the proposed relationship between migration-related factors, such as language proficiency and length of stay and participation. The article’s main finding is that the interactions between group-level and individual-level social capital plays an important role in shaping participation. Specifically, because it reinforces group-level social capital, bonding social capital favors participation in the formal, institutionally sanctioned activity of voting, while bridging social capital—which mitigates the effect of group-level social capital—favors participation in the informal political activity, protest.


Social capital Political participation Embeddedness Voting Italy 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Muenster Institute for Political ScienceMuensterGermany

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