Social Capital and the Rwandan Genocide A Micro-Level Analysis


This paper applies the theory of social capital to the unfolding of genocide in a Rwandan community located 50 km south of the capital. Using the concepts defined by Putnam, Coleman and Woolcock, we find that the activities of political parties, civil war in the north of the country and the use of coercion and violence inside the community weakened existing ties between members of the two ethnic groups, Hutu and Tutsi. Within these groups however, social ties were strengthened to a degree where collective action against the minority group became a feasible option. In this process, we analyse the role of a small group of key players in the community and link their role with their political and economic status. The genocide is thus situated and interpreted in the social fabric of a Rwandan community. The paper is the result of intensive field work in Rwanda.

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