Escape from politics? Social theory and the social capital debate.(Social Capital, Civil Society and Contemporary Democracy)

Foley, Michael W., and Bob Edwards. "Escape from politics? Social theory and the social capital debate." American Behavioral Scientist 40.5 (1997): 550+. Academic OneFile. Web. 24 June 2011.
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This article sets the stage for the discussion of social capital, civil society, and contemporary democracy by attempting to clarify terms and set out the most promising avenues for discussion and debate. The authors argue that current usage of key terms in the debate suffers from three faults: First, the notion of "social capital" is generally undertheorized and oversimplified. Second, popular usage and some scholarly accounts tend to suppress the conflictive character of civil society, seeking in society itself and in its inner workings the resolution of conflicts that politics and the political system in other understandings are charged with settling or suppressing. Third, these (mis)understandings conjoin in the suppression of the economic dimension of contemporary social conflict. This introductory article takes up the first two of these points, in an effort to lay out the theoretical and empirical questions that the subsequent articles address.

Full Text:COPYRIGHT 1997 Sage Publications, Inc.

The recent widespread public embrace of the language of "civil society" and "social capital" is part of a search for new paradigms with which to confront the problems of contemporary societies. Much of the discussion, however, both scholarly and among political and civic elites, suffers from a lack of clarity about just how to think about civil society and the social energy it alternatively generates or feeds on (social capital). Too often, moreover, the renewal of civil society and the generation of social capital within it are accepted uncritically as offering a panacea to contemporary social ills and an easy alternative to the partisan political battles that so many regard as incapable of resolving those problems.(1) This issue of American Behavioral Scientist is devoted to giving theoretical depth and empirical substance to the central concepts of the current debate, and particularly to the notion of social capital. In this article, we intend to set the stage for this discussion by attempting to clarify terms and set out the most promising avenues for discussion and debate.

Most current usage is recognizably Tocquevillian in inspiration - though, as we shall argue here, today's neo-Tocquevillians depend on a selective misappropriation of Tocqueville's (1969) musings on the sources and effects of associational life in the still-young United States of the early 19th century. With Robert Putnam's recent work, starting with his article "Bowling Alone" (Putnam, 1995a), a version of James Coleman's notion of social capital also entered popular discussion. Here, too, we detect in current usage both a lack of clarity about the meaning of the key term and a failure to appreciate the complexities of the theoretical tradition.

In our view, too much of current usage suffers from three faults: First, the notion of social capital is generally undertheorized and oversimplified. As we shall see, Coleman's original concept has suffered considerable transformation in making the popular case that social capital is somehow in decline in the United States. Second, popular usage and some scholarly accounts tend to suppress the conflictive character of civil society, seeking in society itself and in its inner workings the resolution of conflicts that politics and the political system in other understandings are charged with settling or suppressing.(2) Indeed, it is often assumed that civil society manages conflict spontaneously, even diffuses it entirely, via the social capital that it supposedly generates. Third, these (mis)understandings conjoin in the suppression of the economic dimension of contemporary social conflict. Preoccupation with the character of civil society and its store of social capital, that is, tends to screen from view the role of economic restructuring throughout the world (and the accompanying restructuring and downsizing of national states) in forming public perceptions of growing incivility and heightened social conflict. In this introductory article, we take up the first two of these points, in an effort to lay out the theoretical and empirical questions that the subsequent articles address. Our Conclusion develops the final point as part of a larger effort to assess the implications of the findings of this issue for the current debate and for contemporary society.


The notion of social capital, as Andrew Greeley and Kenneth Newton note in the theoretical reconstructions in this issue, has been given a variety of meanings in recent discussions. Here we focus on two broad classes of understandings - one, which hearkens back to Coleman's concept of a social resource for "getting things done," and a second, in which social capital describes attributes of individuals which favor their civic engagement. In the first sense, social capital inheres in social relations and, in Coleman's usage at least, may or may not be socially "constructive," depending strictly on the uses to which individual or collective actors put it. In the second, it might be of much more decidedly "civic" value. In neither case, we would insist, does social capital necessarily lead to social or political harmony; indeed, superior resources of social capital might be more characteristic of highly polarized or fragmented societies than of smoother functioning ones.

Coleman defined social capital as those aspects of a social structure that facilitate action (Coleman, 1990, p. 302). Thus, for Coleman, social capital is to be found in any sort of social relation that provides a resource for action. It is not an attribute of individuals but rather "inheres in the structure of relations between persons and among persons" (p. 302). As such, both social capital and the uses to which it might be put are highly context specific. Social capital may indeed be a function of social organization, "facilitating the achievement of goals that could not be achieved in its absence" (p. 304); but how and to what degree specific features or instances of social relations will constitute social capital varies from individual to individual and across social settings and societies. Although Coleman is able to identify types of social capital, such as "obligations and expectations" among individuals, "information potential," "norms and sanctions," relations of authority, and social organizations of all kinds, it appears highly unlikely that any one institution would function in quite the same way for everyone in every setting. There is nothing in Coleman's conception, for example, to suggest that voluntary associations - or any other social form - are particularly apt at providing resources for individual or collective action.

This is the first noteworthy point about Coleman's (1990) definition: Social capital exists to varying degrees in social relations of all sorts. Second, and equally important, social capital exists only insofar as these relations provide resources for some action, any action. Social capital is not, in this rendering, a metaphysical characteristic of societies, nor is it explicitly tied to the functioning of democracies. Individual and collective actors get things done better thanks to social capital; society as a whole may or may not be better off as a result. Individuals alone, their immediate circles, their communities, the polity as a whole, or transnational networks may all benefit from the relatively richer social settings in which social capital is typically available; but access to such capital may be unevenly distributed throughout a society, and its uses may range from asocial to antisocial to broadly prosocial. Norms and sanctions may support civic activism or promote something more akin to the "amoral familism" Edward Banfield thought he found among southern Italians (Banfield, 1958; see also Silverman, 1968). In either case, however, they are instances of social capital to some individuals. The same may be said of obligations and expectations, information sources (including the media), authority relations, and social organizations of all sorts. As Coleman says, "A given form of social capital that is valuable in facilitating certain actions may be useless or even harmful for others" (1988, p. 98). On the question of civic betterment, Coleman's social capital is neutral.

Putnam has been particularly explicit in claiming reliance on Coleman's conception of social capital. For Putnam, nevertheless, social capital is far from neutral: The quality of democratic politics and the vitality of a country's economic life are highly dependent on the degree to which a people enjoy a rich store of social capital, and this, in turn, depends on the quality of its associational life. A dense network of voluntary associations is important, in Putnam's neo-Tocquevillian argument, because such organizations generate social capital by supporting norms of reciprocity and civic engagement, building social trust, and providing networks of social relations that can be mobilized for civic action (Putnam, 1993a, 1993b, 1995a; 1995b). There is much that is problematic about this formulation, but we focus here on the ways in which it both narrows and unduly valorizes Coleman's conception.

Putnam's conception - like that current in contemporary popularized versions - both narrows the field of what might constitute or generate social capital and bestows on it a valoration that Coleman's concept cannot sustain by itself. Both turns in conceptualization seem to stem from a subtle shift to a second meaning of the term, what Richard Wood (in this issue) calls the "second face of culture," whereby social capital comes to denote attitudes and habits (or "values") conducive to civic engagement. These are the so-called "habits of the heart" that Robert Bellah and associates, also reliant on a Tocquevillian reading of American history, sought in a study of contemporary U.S. attitudes toward community life (Bellah et al., 1985). In Putnam's definition, for example, social capital is sometimes transformed from a resource available to specific actors for their own purposes to "features of social organization . . . that facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefit" (Putnam, 1993, p. 35).(3)

The "second face of culture" (or of social capital), indeed, may be more important to the sorts of arguments usually associated with the concept than the first, social structural aspect emphasized by Coleman and operationalized by Putnam and others in Tocquevillian terms as membership in associations. Some associations and some social settings, that is, may be better at generating civic engagement and promoting healthy democracies not only because of the structural resources they provide but because of the specific attitudes and values they self-consciously promote. This "social psychological" or "cultural" (or even "ideological") dimension may be a large part of what many people, including Putnam, are trying to get at in speaking of social capital; for unless social structures are specifically oriented toward promoting positive civic action or economic cooperation, it is doubtful they will contribute directly to the political or economic health of a democracy. Social structure, in other words, must be filled with a certain "content" before it can fully perform the functions usually attributed to it in the current discussion. Indeed, insofar as they constitute social capital, some of Coleman's structures are defined by a certain attitudinal content, as when he singles out patterns of relations characterized by trust, expectations, obligations, or authority.

The focus on associational life characteristic of the neo-Tocquevillian argument also might be questioned. First, it is not at all clear why voluntary associations should be singularly adept at promoting the attitudes and habits necessary for an engaged and "civil" citizenry. As Newton argues in his article in this issue, the family, school, and the workplace might more reasonably be expected to generate the sorts of commitments proponents of "civic renewal" have in mind. Second, if voluntary associations are overrated in the civil society argument, they are also curiously underrated. For voluntary associations do many things besides the sorts of face-to-face social capital formation that Putnam emphasizes, and many contribute to the vitality of democratic polities in ways not anticipated by current debate. Voluntary associations, after all, are generally created to further some purpose beyond abstract social capital formation. They pursue goals both political and nonpolitical. They mobilize people. They represent people's interests and advance their visions of the good life and the common good. These are important functions in any society. They are arguably essential to a democracy, where political parties by their nature are too focused on winning and maintaining political power to attend to the multiple needs, views, and demands of citizens with much precision. And the sorts of large-scale, national-level groups that Putnam dismisses for lack of a face-to-face dimension are often better at advancing public debate, keeping citizens informed, and representing otherwise silent interests and views than the smaller, local groups that Putnam and others have come to favor, as Debra Minkoff eloquently argues in this issue. But such groups also represent the social conflict that the current debate seems to find so problematic.


Contemporary focus on civil society relies in part on the social capital argument just discussed, but in part as well on a reading of Tocqueville (1969) that privileges the beneficent and nonpolitical manifestations of associational life, ignoring in the process equally powerful interpretations of civil society that lay particular stress on the conflict at the heart of modem societies. These readings, moreover, are often misreadings of Tocqueville, whose approach to the question of associational life is rather more complex than usually represented.

Tocqueville's (1969) argument is not about the "political culture" of American democracy, as some have assumed, nor is it about a national genius for creating civil associations, as many have argued. On the contrary, Tocqueville argues that America's associational life springs from the twin social and political conditions of the new nation - and these conditions are, in his eyes and in those of his intended audience, inherently problematic. The social condition, the relatively egalitarian character of American society, plays an explicit role in Tocqueville's account of the genesis of American associationism. The political freedoms Americans enjoy play a generally supporting role, but an essential one.(4)

American egalitarianism poses serious problems for public life to Tocqueville's (1969) mind: There are no great lords to take on public works and launch significant initiatives; a general leveling promotes mediocrity and conformism; public life, accordingly, risks being infected with general apathy as fewer and fewer individuals care to come forward to lead the pack. Associations arise to fill these deficiencies: Where one individual alone cannot carry out great enterprises, Americans join together to do so, Tocqueville notes; associations spring up to meet public (and private) needs and take initiatives; and associational life trains citizens in participation and the virtues of citizenship, preparing leaders for public life. The associations of the Americans thus arise to meet a need, to answer the problematic posed by the egalitarian condition of American society. Tocqueville's account of the origins of associational life in America is thus broadly structural and functionalist: The need generates the means to meet it.

Political institutions, and in particular the freedoms bestowed on Americans in their political constitution, also play a role in this story, however; for without those freedoms the necessary growth in associational life might have been stymied. Crucial to that growth, in fact, are distinctively political bodies, which Tocqueville (1969) does not hesitate to christen "the great free schools of association." Without the freedom necessary for the development of vigorous political associations, all forms of association would wither, and the associations that remained would accomplish little and contribute little, accordingly, to the quality of public life or to human progress.

Just as egalitarianism poses certain problems for American democracy, nevertheless, so do the republican freedoms enshrined in the new institutions. Freedom to create political associations, Tocqueville (1969) argues, is the last and most dangerous freedom a government should cede to its people. Tocqueville is particularly concerned that vigorous factions might unite under the umbrella of such freedom only to overturn the institutions that gave them license to meet and plot. In the last analysis, however, he finds comfort in the very freedom that makes him so uneasy. In America, he writes, the conspiracies are at least open ones, and they generate countermovements as fast as they grow. In Europe, where association is tightly controlled, conspiracies are both closeted and dangerous, and no one knows how they might turn out or quite how to counter them. If in America associations may freely arise to contest public decisions, they also grow up to further public ends and meet pressing human and social ends. In the end, a democratic society is better off - indeed, perhaps only possible - with the fullest freedom of association and opinion.

Tocqueville's (1969) arguments, for all their functionalism and aristocratic discomfort with the middling sorts who claim the mantle of sovereignty in the American republic, remain important for their frank recognition of the ways in which social and political conditions structure associational life - a perspective largely missing in the contemporary rush to substitute the virtues of civil society for the vices of "politics." A rich associational life may be necessary, as recent exponents of the Tocquevillian point of view argue, for the health of democracies; but democracy itself is largely responsible for generating such associational life, and as social, political, and economic conditions change, so, too, will the character of a society's associations - a point we develop in the Conclusion.

It is necessary to go beyond Tocqueville (1969), nevertheless, to appreciate the complexity of the relation between civil society, however conceived, and the quality of public life. Although Tocqueville is not blind to the possibility of conflict in civil society, his portrait of the virtues of association tends to obscure a problem that preoccupied thinkers before and after him. James Madison (1961), for one, posed as a central problem of the republican form of government to which he was committed "the mischiefs of faction," by which he and his contemporaries meant the tendency of competing groups to rise up in hopes of furthering their "passions" or interests at the expense of others and of the common good (Federalist 10). Madison, like contemporary promoters of civil society, framed his analysis polemically, but his targets were the very groups celebrated in the current discussion. Factions are "united and actuated by some common impulse . . . adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community" (Madison, 1961, p. 57). In fact, what he has in mind are clearly what political scientists have called "interest groups" and what contemporary discourse calls organized civil society, whose competing demands might not be self-consciously "adverse to the rights" of others but whose claims on public resources or legal sanction often privilege some interests over others or one conception of the public good over another.

For Marx (1977), similarly, civil society - that is, modern, bourgeois society, freed of the restraints and imposed harmonies of the feudal era - is characterized by "egoistic" competition, of which the endlessly multiplying religious sects of the North Americans were one outward manifestation, a cultural reflex of a much deeper and more pernicious social reality. Democracy has brought political emancipation, but left individuals free to compete in subordinating one another to their selfish interests. The rights of property, freedom of commerce, the growing dominance of capital, are at once the foundations of civil society and implicitly at loggerheads with the high moral purposes and legal universalism of the democratic state. The effort to square this circle is futile, the "universalism" and neutrality of the modem democratic state consequently are little more than "imaginary" (Marx, 1977).

Madison presents the choices equally starkly, though he does not despair of a political solution. There are just two cures for the "violence of faction": eliminating its causes or controlling its effects. The causes of faction might be eliminated by destroying the freedom that gives it scope or by somehow seeing to it that all citizens share "the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests" (Madison, 1961, p. 58). The former, however, is worse than the disease, the latter impossible. Madison opts, therefore, for the second cure - a system of government that would hold faction in check, diffusing its effects and limiting its power. Marx (1977) hoped to eliminate the causes of civil strife through the combined effects on human interaction of a system of abundance and an end to private property. But neither Madison nor Marx imagined civil society resolving the conflicts at its heart on its own; on the contrary, it was the task of a worthy system of government, in Madison's eyes, to "check" the competition of factions without suppressing it.

The point might best be put in terms of the social capital that a rich associational life, on the neo-Tocquevillian account, is supposed to generate. Social capital, whether conceived as raw social resources for getting things done (Coleman) or as those "habits of the heart" that propel individuals into civic life, inevitably will be brought to bear in the service of one or another faction as long as interests differ and competing conceptions of the good life and the public good are allowed to express themselves. Conflict springs from such competition, and when it reaches intractable proportions or touches on public resources and the public interest, it must be dealt with politically. Indeed, as both Madison and his latter-day followers, the pluralists, argued, politics is the arena where such conflicts must ultimately be confronted, negotiated, mediated, and, perhaps, resolved.

Where competing interests cannot come to terms, the courts, state agencies, or the legislature are almost inevitably called in to adjudicate, mediate, or decide on some solution. The obligations, expectations, norms, sanctions, and authority of the state - not to mention its functions as information provider and organizational resource - constitute the ultimate institutionalization of social capital a la Coleman. The political system, moreover, is more than just the given system of legitimate and public social relations (social capital); rather, its structures are often designed specifically to address conflicting claims, structuring the ways in which those claims might be advanced, heard, and resolved; and they often channel social conflict accordingly (McCarthy, Britt, & Wolfson, 1991). Pluralist theory has been criticized for understating the degree to which certain interests come to dominate others and for ignoring the ways in which the state itself and its incumbents enforce their interests (Schattschneider, 1960; Skocpol, 1979); but in contrast to the neo-Tocquevillians, the pluralists at least recognized the intermediary role of the state in the face of the competing claims of civil society.

Political systems, however, differ widely in their ability to hear and respond to social claims - in their responsiveness and in their accountability. We have argued elsewhere that such differences are important determinants of both the character of civil society and of the uses to which whatever social capital exists might be put. The growing strength of civil society and increasing social capital available to peasants, workers, and opposition groups in El Salvador in the 1960s and 1970s, it might well be argued, put increasing demands on a state more or less firmly in the hands of the most intransigent elements of the landowning class and their military allies. Intransigence, the failure of the most elementary responsiveness on the part of the state, and an utter lack of democratic accountability led to growing polarization and, ultimately, the upheaval of civil war (see Baloyra, 1982; Stanley, 1996). El Salvador is an extreme example; but failures of responsiveness and accountability everywhere contribute to the alienation of citizens and often to their mobilization for change, as accounts of the recent militia movement in the United States suggest; and responsiveness and accountability depend crucially on the resources available to political systems and the degree to which they remain in touch with citizens' expectations and demands. It would seem logical to search first for the causes of contemporary perceptions of malaise, then, not in the decline of traditional civic associations or the effects of television consumption on individual attitudes, but in recent trends in governmental capacity and responsiveness. But we postpone this argument, suggested by more than one of our contributors, to the concluding article.


The contributors to this issue delve deeper into the theoretical issues laid out here, offering along the way new empirical evidence on civil society, social capital, and the sources of cooperation and civic engagement in Western democracies. In the opening article, Sheri Berman notes the convergence of earlier mass society theory and today's neo-Tocquevillians, arguing that both ignore the possibility that a densely organized civil society, like that of Weimar Germany, might actually contribute to political breakdown in the face of adverse political and economic circumstances. Berman argues that a correct understanding of the role in democracies of cultural and societal factors, like the character of civil society, depends on an appreciation of the larger political context in which civil society moves.

In the next article, Kenneth Newton attempts to rethink the concept of social capital. He disaggregates the concept into norms (particularly trust), networks, and consequences; and he argues persuasively for a more nuanced approach to unraveling the factors that make for cooperation and civic engagement in contemporary democracies. At the same time, he suggests that the role of voluntary associations in generating the sorts of consequences attributed to social capital may be overstated, and he argues that new social forms, less dependent on face-to-face interaction, may be important sources for civic engagement in contemporary societies.

With similar theoretical aims, Andrew Greeley then attempts to recapture the original sense of Coleman's notion of social capital, arguing for a "social structural" as opposed to a "social psychological" interpretation of the concept. He demonstrates, by way of example, the striking role of religious congregations in promoting one important form of civic engagement - volunteerism. Richard Wood also looks to churches, in this case as the focal points for community organizing efforts. He shows how such efforts use both the social structural resources available in congregations and what he calls the "second face of culture" - the values, attitudes, and other cultural resources available to religious groups to promote constructive social change. Thus, in contrast to Greeley, Wood insists that social capital must have two faces and that the "cultural" component explains significant differences between religious and secular organizing efforts.

Debra Minkoff then examines the claim that social capital is best generated in organizations that promote face-to-face interaction. She argues that national-level social movement organizations, despite the lack of forums for such face-to-face encounters, nevertheless contribute in important ways to the civic engagement of a citizenry. By providing a "mediated collective identity," they succeed in empowering otherwise isolated constituencies, with important spill-over effects for their civic engagement generally and for the polity itself, as public debate is enriched with fresh contributions and marginalized groups find voice.

James Youniss, Jeffrey McLellan and Miranda Yates consider another source for the formation of a civically engaged "identity." Their article summarizes research on the sorts of arenas in which adolescents gain life-long commitments to civic engagement, adding fresh findings from their own work on school-based community service programs. They find that schools, like some traditional youth organizations, can contribute positively to what they call a "civic identity" crucial to civic engagement through properly designed programs of study and service learning. Rather than search for sources of a supposed decline in social capital, they propose a developmental perspective to answer the question of how civic engagement is generated in the first place.

Youniss, McLellan, and Yates thus locate certain of the effects associated with the social capital argument not just in voluntary associations but in the compulsory institution of schooling. Kent Portney and Jeffrey Berry, drawing on extensive research on participation in large American cities, likewise find sources for civic engagement, trust, and community pride outside the sorts of voluntary associations stressed by Putnam and others. Indeed, city government sponsored neighborhood associations, if given genuine power over local affairs, appear to be more effective in involving and empowering disadvantaged minorities and generating a deeper sense of community than the voluntary organizations usually stressed in the civil society argument.

Similarly, Lane Kenworthy finds significant sources of economic cooperation that do not depend on the social trust and norms of reciprocity stressed by Putnam and others. These include centralized business and union confederations, corporatist-style bargaining arrangements, long-term arrangements wedding firms and investors or firms and suppliers, selective incentives and other supports provided by business associations or governments, employment guarantees, and participatory teamwork arrangements at the workplace. Some of these, notes Kenworthy, depend on antecedent social capital and trust; but many grow out of conflictual bargaining and depend for their maintenance on little more than enlightened self-interest and favorable economic and/or political circumstances.

Finally, Charles Heying pursues the question of why social capital has seemingly declined in large American cities. Rather than look to individual membership in civic associations, however, Heying focuses on declining rates of elite engagement in civic affairs. He associates this with corporate delocalization ("globalization"), which has weakened local philanthropic sectors and, with it, local communities' abilities to sustain a rich associational life. In Heying's argument, as in that of Portney and Berry and Kenworthy, the "provision" of social capital may well lie outside the logic of social capital, depending instead on governmental initiatives and structures, a variety of economic incentives, or, in this case, on the social location of important players in local philanthropy. Far-reaching changes in national and international economies, moreover, may play a significant role in shaping the context within which social capital is formed and used. The economic context, like the political context emphasized by Berman, turns out to be crucial for understanding the character of a civil society at any given time.

In the concluding essay, we attempt to assess what we have learned from these contributions and from the debate overall and how we might better hone both the concept of social capital and the questions to which the debate has given rise. At the same time, we offer an alternative reading of the sense of malaise and growing "incivility" that has generated so much interest in this debate, drawing on the sort of political economy perspective adumbrated by some of our contributors.


1. Whereas Robert Putnam (1993a) was careful to argue, in Making Democracy Work, that social capital was important because it enhanced the ability of democratic institutions to work, many consumers of the concept seem to regard it as an effective substitute for political action. One example out of a numerous field is a recent article in the Washington Post on the new "civil society movement" (Merida & Vobejda, 1996. pp. 1, 22-23). According to the article, "a powerful and ideologically diverse group of philanthropists and political leaders," including retiring members of Congress such as Pat Schroeder, Sam Nunn, and Bill Bradley, have embraced a return to civil society to escape partisan divisions and "find new common ground." Civil society is said to describe "free societies where government, commerce and civic institutions are balanced, citizens participate in their communities and the culture promotes civility" (Merida & Vobejda, 1966) - big order for anyone, but one that the new nonprofit institutes described in the article are being set up to achieve with a leadership drawn from left to right of the political spectrum.

2. For a fuller treatment of this argument, see our article "The Paradox of Civil Society" (Foley & Edwards, 1996).

3. Elsewhere, Putnam has been careful to note the ambiguous character of social capital. In "Tuning In, Tuning Out" (1995b), he defines social capital as "features of social life - networks, norms, and trust - that enable participants to act together more effectively to pursue shared objectives"; and he adds, "Whether or not their shared goals are praiseworthy is, of course, entirely another matter" (Putnam, 1995b, pp. 664-665). He goes on to operationalize social capital, nevertheless, in the most general of terms as strongly correlated with membership in voluntary organizations and to see this as an indicator of the strength of "forms of social capital that, generally speaking, serve civic ends" (p. 665). Available measures thus seem to drive (and distort) conceptualization, rather than the other way around.

4. The relevant discussion can be found in Tocqueville (1969, pp. 189-195; 509-524 [Vol. I, Part II, chap. 4 and Vol. 2, Part II, chaps. 4-7]).


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MICHAEL W. FOLEY is an associate professor of politics at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He is the author, with Bob Edwards, of "The Paradox of Civil Society," that appeared in the Journal of Democracy (Summer 1996). His work on post-civil war civil society in El Salvador has been published as "Laying the Groundwork: The Struggle for Civil Society in El Salvador," in the Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs (Spring 1996). He is currently working on a book on the agrarian dimensions of the recent conflicts and negotiated settlements in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico.

BOB EDWARDS is an assistant professor in the Sociology Department at East Carolina University. His research focuses on contemporary social movements, citizen advocacy organizations and their relationship to political participation and social change. His work has appeared in American Sociological Review, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Sociological Forum, and The Journal of Democracy. His research has been supported by grants from the North Carolina Center for Transportation and the Environment, and the East Carolina University Faculty Senate.

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