Res Publica - Journal of Undergraduate Research


Violent political action is a serious concern for contemporary democracies. There is growing documentation that citizens in general are becoming distrustful of government and frustrated with conventional polifics, They instead are turning to alternative, sometimes violent forms of participation. A growing body of literature suggests that high levels of social capital may foster successful democracy by promoting norms of interpersonal trust and generalized reci- This paper examines the impact of trust and civic involvement on both citizens' attitudes towards political violence and their propensity to engage in system-challenging acts. Where social capital bridges traditional ethnic, religious and familial cleavages, people are lessl ikely to support or engage in political violence. Where social capital bonds individuals to primordial loyalties, people are more likely to support using violence for political means.