Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Converting social capital into political capital

Briner and Wittmer (see previous post on "Political Capital for Communication) list the following transformations of social capital into political capital as viewed in practice in case studies from the Thailand forest conservation reform movement:

Electoral leverage “Actors such as NGOs and POs, which dispose of a high level of social capital in form of organizations and networks, can try to convert it into instrumental political capital in form of electoral leverage” (nd, p. 13)

Direct participation in the legislative process “The social capital of the supporters of the People’s draft allowed them to make sure of this possibility and collect more than 50,000 signatures, a process, which definitely requires a high degree of organization and logistical support” (nd, p. 14)

Disruptive leverage The disruption of the economic system in some way whether through blockades, boycotts etc which requires a large network oriented towards a common goal (p. 15)

Negotiations between peak organizations based on the built social capital of an organization with other organizations, these organizations were able to lobby and negotiate with the government as a collective, increasing their voice and power considerably

Lobbyism “It appears justified to assume that social capital held by this group in the form of elites…may have been useful for building up political capital by lobbying” (p. 16)

Strategic Use of Scientific Knowledge “The alliance between academics and the grassroots-oriented NGO and PO movement is a distinctive feature of Thai politics, which has been described as a ‘third force.’

Politicizability and Use of Ideological Resources Built social capital in the form of networks and relationships with journalists and media groups can greatly assist a movement in politicizing an issue of interest and placing it in the centre of the public discourse. Being able to draw on these resources while piggy-backing on symbolic frames can be of great use to the movement. (p. 17).

International Influence and “Iso-morphic Pressure. Built networks and relationships with or memberships in global organizations and agreements such as the UN’s Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2015) can assist with mobilization of instrumental political capital.

Discretionary Administrative Authority Networks and relationships with government bureaucrats and administrators can be converted into political capital with high potential for impact including agenda creation and Bill formation.

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