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Having been doing background reading on issues of
social capital and development, it seems to me there
are certain structures that could be described as the
weeds of social capital - networks that form when no
other forms of cooperation are present, and that then
take control, strangling more benign structures.
Examples include youth gangs, rogue military units,
the mafia and bandits.  They come in many different
styles, but with a similar underlying structure -
essentially a group of men, with very strong
within-group bonds, and a predatory or hostile view of
outsiders.

The linchpin of these structures seems to me to be
male bonding - by which I mean, the ability of men
under pressure to form extremely strong bonds of trust
and cooperation with each other and then act
aggressively against others outside the group. Other
forms of cooperation and networking are slower to
form, and so get pushed aside in periods of chaos or
uncertainty.  The process could almost be compared
with chemical reactions (here I have to fall back on
my limited high school chemistry) - certain types of
bonds between atoms are very quick to form, others are
slower and less likely to happen, and the relative
strengths dictate the resulting compounds.

Could anybody recommend further reading along these
lines? Especially research that looks at male bonding
and social networks.

Best,

Geoffrey Williams

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