This study examines how the interplay between racial diversity and economic inequality affects variations of social capital in the U.S. counties. In general, racial and economic heterogeneity is assumed to provide a negative environment for the growth of social capital. Building on this, we argue the effect of economic inequality is weaker than that of racial diversity because increased economic heterogeneity is felt less visibly and acutely than racial heterogeneity. Moreover, economic inequality can positively condition the adverse impact of racial diversity on social capital when the two interact. Based on the crosscutting cleavages theory, income inequality in a racially fragmented community works as an additional cleavage that crosscuts the different racial groups, mitigating the negative impact of racial diversity on social capital. The data analysis of 3,140 U.S. counties in 2009-2014 provides strong evidence for our arguments. Our findings offer important implications in understanding inequality, race and American democracy.
Mi-son Kim, Dongkyu Kim & Natasha Altema McNeely (2020) Race, inequality, and social capital in the U.S. counties, The Social Science Journal, DOI: 10.1080/03623319.2020.1799178
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