Drinking Tea with the Neighbors: Informal Clubs, Social Trust, and Trustworthiness in Mali (VIRTUAL)
Associate Professor of Political Science
Senior Research Advisor, Ford Program for Human Development Studies and Solidarity
Faculty Fellow, Kellogg Institute for International Studies
Assistant Professor (Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering), Politecnico di Milano
Affiliated Scientist, European Institute on Economics and the Environment
Fellow, Centro Studi Luca D'Agliano
This talk presents a paper that uses a mixed methods research design, including focus groups and experimental games, based on 18 months of fieldwork in Mali to explore the role of local social clubs called "grins." Drawing on social capital literature, we explore this under-researched type of civil society actors in urban Africa – informal, youth social clubs. "Grins" are ethnically-diverse, egalitarian groups that engage in reciprocal exchanges to provide support to fellow members. We demonstrate that membership in these groups is associated with heightened trustworthiness toward broader society. We use qualitative evidence to suggest that bridging mechanisms play a role in building this general trustworthiness. We also show correlations between behavior in the games and self-reported behavior in real life. Co-authors for this project are Jaimie Bleck, Jacopo Bonan, Philippe LeMay-Boucher, and Bassirou Sarr.