Internal Empires I: Social Institutions of the Frontier

44 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2012

See all articles by Roberto Foa

Roberto Foa

Harvard University - Department of Government; National Research University Higher School of Economics

Anna Nemirovskaya

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Elena Mostovova

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Date Written: May 31, 2012

Abstract

One of the attributes most consistently highlighted in the literature on frontier society is the tendency to spontaneous social organisation. However, despite the resilience of the ‘frontier thesis’ within sociology and political science, it has not been subject to a rigorous empirical examination. Does it constitute a description of the social norms and institution of the western United States, or is it one manifestation of a more general ‘frontier phenomenon’, found in other times and places? In order to answer these questions, this article examines data on the nature of social relations in frontier zones in four countries: Brazil, Russia, Canada and the United States. Taking a wide range of survey items, we find that higher levels of voluntary activity, social trust, tolerance of outgroups, and civic protest are distinctive features of frontier life, and not simply a feature of the American historical experience.

Keywords: Social institutions, social capital, settlement patterns, historical institutionalism, frontier thesis

JEL Classification: Z13, N90, R23

Suggested Citation

Foa, Roberto and Nemirovskaya, Anna and Mostovova, Elena, Internal Empires I: Social Institutions of the Frontier (May 31, 2012). Higher School of Economics Research Paper No. WP BRP 09/SOC/2012, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2073331 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2073331

Roberto Foa (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Government ( email )

1737 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

National Research University Higher School of Economics ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

Anna Nemirovskaya

National Research University Higher School of Economics ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

Elena Mostovova

National Research University Higher School of Economics ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

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