At the dawn of the 21st century, riverine communities in the Brazilian Amazon faced natural resource conflicts, land tenure issues, a lack of basic services, and other development challenges. The solutions to these challenges required riverine leaders to not only build extensive social networks, but also forced them to create mutually reinforcing configurations of bonding, bridging, and linking social capital. A position generator survey conducted among a sample of riverine communities in the municipality of Lábrea, Amazonas confirmed that riverine leaders had more extensive linking social capital than non-leaders. Two years of ethnographic research identified the complex micro-sociological processes riverine leaders engaged in to create the configurations of bonding, bridging, and linking social capital required to achieve collective goals. These micro-sociological processes included day-to-day behaviors, actions, interactions, and complex decisions regarding how and when to activate and deactivate relationships. This research indicates that analyzing day-to-day micro-sociological processes is useful not only to understand social capital configurations, but also to understand how some people are able to create more social capital than others. However, while some micro-sociological processes facilitate social capital configurations, others complicate efforts to create and maintain them. This article also illustrates the burdens riverine leaders faced in creating social capital configurations and the challenges of maintaining them over time. This study builds on previous research regarding the role of community leadership in rural development and provides examples of how analyzing micro-sociological processes can help identify the benefits, costs, and burdens of creating the social capital necessary to achieve development goals.
- Position generator
- Rural development
- Social capital
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Sociology and Political Science
- Economics and Econometrics