Conflicted societies in motion
Drug-related violence in Mexico has grown into a profound social problem, aggravating existing insecurity, vulnerability, and citizen’s wellbeing. In critical scenarios of this kind, the virtues of social engagement for enhanced wellbeing, improved security and true democracy appear futile. This research examines how resources and incentives for mobilization operate. Specifically, social capital and political culture are studied as mechanisms that may affect those relationships. This research draws upon theories of Collective Action and Social Capital Theory. Also used are studies on the influence of emotions and perceptions on citizen’s collective mobilization. This approach contributes by accounting for informal participation and their various political loadings in conflict environments. To achieve the objective, Regression Analysis and Structural Equation Modelling were conducted. The study uses secondary data collected in 2011 (N = 7,416) using a probabilistic sample design representative of seven Mexican states selected by their levels of violence. Two subsamples were constructed to examine the varying effects of social and political resources on mobilization across regions (north and south). Results show the emotional component associated with citizen’s mobilization for collective action. The findings also exhibit social capital and political culture as key indicators of people’s decision to organize for social change. Finally, intriguing results related to the “negative form” of social capital were observed. To be precise, social capital appears to be insufficient to explain citizens' motives to mobilize with others for social change. Implications for policy and scholarship are presented. Specifically, initiatives regarding the importance of the effects of the weakened democratic environment, social lack of trust, government unresponsiveness and impunity, and self-directed processes of justice at the community level are highlighted.