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Social Capital and Social Trust in Iceland under the Economic Crisis

Open Panel

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to investigate social capital that was typical for Icelandic society before and after the economic crisis. The special attention is given to change in social capital and political activism between 2005 and 2010 where the severe economic crisis hit the society and put into question former rules of social life. Icelandic currency lost 1/3 of its worth in just a few days in autumn 2008. Social ties under economic crisis remained astonishingly strong and helpful when it comes to emotional coping with stress caused by crisis. In recent 25 years we can observe a slowly increase in bonding social capital in Iceland what means that Icelanders relay more on their families of origin than they used to. Icelanders after the crises are less happy as there were before. However, their social networks even expanded when it comes to being active in voluntary organizations under the crisis. Their willingness to participate in politics also increased. This effect is contrary to this what might be expected that economic crisis will hamper Icelandic social capital. It is the opposite and probably this is the reason why Icelanders keep being one of the happiest nations in the world and try to renew democracy in their country eg. through Constitutional Assembly.