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Volume 8 (2006/2007), ISSUE 13 (YEARLY)






The eruption of Social Capital as a concept in the 1990´s and its implications for economic development has not immediately been accompanied with the emergence of practical as well as scientifically valid instruments to measure it. This article contains an updated description of the development of one such instrument: the Colombian barometer of Social Capital (BARCAS). Besides social capital, this instrument measures another factor found: Faith in Unvalidated Sources of Information (FUSI). With these it was possible to analyze Colombia’s social capital and compare it with other nations as the BARCAS is built with elements of the World Value Survey. 

With the results of this analysis, policies were implemented in Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, which included participatory planning and political maps to establish the representation of localities in the Municipal Council and its accountability. Additionally, to gauge the civic society that should exert social control on the local governments, its density and articulation was measured. Although the downward trend identified since 1997 was not reversed, it was possible to detect instances of positive change. 


Social Capital measurement - Urban development - Civic culture - Social change - Political sociology - Colombia - Bogotá.  


Born in Colombia, John Sudarsky holds degrees in Industrial Engineering and a MA in Psychology. He taught organizational behavior at the Andes University in Bogotá; there he developed an instrument to measure organizational climate. Later at Harvard University, he researched in the implementation of strategies for equitable modernization, an interest reflected in his doctoral thesis (Education sciences, 1981), an action research project on the implementation of cooperatives in Colombia. Returning to the Andes University, he worked in a program for the development of entrepreneurship latter used to train teachers (1986). In 1994, he became an adviser to the National Planning Office to help start the Consejo Nacional de Planeación, a new official body where civil society was represented; for this, he designed the Colombian Barometer of Social Capital. Later he helped Mayor Antanas Mockus in the use of participatory planning to increase social capital in Bogotá. At the present he is leading a second research and development program for measurement of the social capital of Colombia. John Sudarsky also runs a successful industrial company.


This article is a revised version of a paper presented at the Second International Conference of The Social Capital Foundation, Buggiba, Republic of Malta, 20-23 September 2005. 


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