Social capital and migrants' political integration: the case study of capeverdean associations in the greater Lisbon area

  • Ana Paula Horta
  • Jorge Malheiros


This paper analyses the types of social capital present in theCapeverdean associational movement of the Greater Lisbon Area (GLA) and its relation to political involvement and mobilization. The notion of social capital («features of social organization such as networks, norms and social trust that facilitatecoordination and co-operation for mutual benefit» – Putnam, 1993: 26) is exploredin its two basic components – bonding (internal links of individuals and institutions)and bridging social capital (external connections, that also entail the long distancerelations with the other diaspora nuclei) –, following the research principles expressedin the work of Fennema and Tillie (2000, 2001).The research goals are achieved through interviews and questionnaires to themajor Capeverdean associations of Lisbon, Amadora and Oeiras, focusing on its organizational structure and on the density of their organizational network, that is theweb of inter and intra-organizational relations and transnational links that might beread as forms of bridging and bonding social capital. We also focussed on the political activities of organisations, looking at ethnic civic engagement and exploring theextent to which social trust in the form of social capital is converted into politicalinvolvement.Major results show that associations of Oeiras and Amadora are mainly grassroots based organisations that privilege neighbourhood-bonding ties, whereas Lisbon’sassociations assume a structural/”umbrella-like” role in the institutional Capeverdeanfabric. In addition, the density of institutional relations is much higher at the internal level (with other Capeverdean organisations) than at the external level. The exception concerns the relevance of the international links with other Capeverdean associations. Finally, the findings show that associations with higher social capital thatis with the densest network of organizational relations are also those that participatemore actively in political activities.