Latino Studies

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 233–253 | Cite as

Religion and Social Capital Among Mexican Immigrants in Southwest Florida

  • Philip J Williams
  • Patricia Fortuny Loret de Mola


The essay investigates the diverse ways in which religious and civic institutions operate in a multiethnic migrant farmworker community. Our research found that while religious organizations are an important source of social capital, they may be ill-equipped to deal with the heterogeneity and mobility of migrant populations. In Immokalee, churches provide access to new social networks that can facilitate the accumulation of social capital, but these networks tend to favor more established immigrants over migrant farmworkers and sometimes reinforce the segregation of groups along ethnic and regional lines. In other words, churches facilitate “bonding” social capital but often neglect “bridging” social capital. In contrast, a secular organization, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, is more effective in bridging ethnic and regional differences among immigrants and in generating “political capital” that seeks to affect political and social change.


immigration religion social capital farmworkers Mexicans 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip J Williams
    • 1
  • Patricia Fortuny Loret de Mola
    • 2
  1. 1.University of FloridaGainesville
  2. 2.Programa CIESAS PeninsularMérida YucatánMexico

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