Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world: the high level of violence threatens the economic and social development of the country as it erodes human and social capital and limits trust among people in poor urban areas. However, neither a detailed consideration of the complex manner in which distinct dimensions of social capital interrelate with violence, nor the potential for double causality has received much attention.
The study examines the influence of structural social capital (social organization characteristics) and cognitive social capital (social trust and cohesion characteristics) on risk of violence in poor urban areas of Honduras.
The study was carried out in two urban communities of Tegucigalpa experiencing high levels of violence and insecurity. For the quantitative analysis, 1000 individuals older than 18 answered a structured questionnaire. Violence exposure was evaluated based on respondents’ self-reporting. Social capital was defined based on the use of the short version of the Adapted Social Capital Assessment Tool.
Our results support previous evidence from Guatemala showing that cognitive and structural social capital were inversely related to risk of violence: people with high cognitive social capital had a lower risk of violence (OR 0.46 CI 95: 0.28–0.76) compared to people with low cognitive social capital, whereas people with high structural social capital had a higher risk of violence (OR 1.68 CI 95: 1.04–2.71) compared to people with low structural social capital.
Social trust and social activism exhibit significant associations with risk of violence, however, these dimensions are consequences as well as causes of violence.
Implications for practice
In an intervention perspective it is important to recognize the difference between social organization and cooperative action for creating change, as these concepts represent very dissimilar levels of collective action toward violence. It is thus important to link the items of social capital, primarily within the structural dimension, to the specific objectives of a given intervention.