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Violence in the barrios of caracas social capital and the political economy of venezuela

The Latin American Studies Book Series

Daniel S. Leon

Violence in
the Barrios
of Caracas
Social Capital and the Political Economy
of Venezuela


The Latin American Studies Book Series
Series Editors
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Daniel S. Leon

Violence in the Barrios
of Caracas
Social Capital and the Political Economy
of Venezuela

123


Daniel S. Leon
Global Studies
University of Leipzig
Leipzig, Saxony, Germany

ISSN 2366-3421
ISSN 2366-343X (electronic)
The Latin American Studies Book Series
ISBN 978-3-030-22939-9
ISBN 978-3-030-22940-5 (eBook)
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-22940-5
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Prologue and Acknowledgements

The idea for this project stems from my time at The American University in Cairo.
When I was completing my master’s thesis in political science at this university, I
remember asking my then supervisor, Prof. Dan Tschirgi, about Cairo’s surprisingly low violence or homicide rate. Why did such a poverty-stricken, ultra-dense
megacity be mostly free of deadly social violence? After visiting some barrios or
slums in Cairo, the Venezuelan in me was struck not by the poverty, but by the
peaceful coexistence, even if socioeconomic conditions were straining.
Prof. Tschirgi replied to this question by saying something to the effect that, “Cairo
is a fascinating place!” Although I do not dispute the veracity of such a statement,
my experience of the barrios in Cairo allowed me to reflect on the causes of high
violence rates in Caracas. This city is less impoverished and smaller than Cairo, but
with social violence rates that are higher by a factor of about 100. Therefore,
Caracas provides an ideal place to offer a possible explanation of high urban
violence rates, which is a social outcome that has shattered too many families and
has been one of Venezuela’s major development obstacles.
I am deeply indebted to many people, who helped me in big and small ways to
complete my doctoral dissertation in Global Studies at the University of Leipzig,
which formed the basis of this present book. First and foremost, I warmly thank my
former supervisor Prof. Heidrun Zinecker (University of Leipzig). Her comments
and critiques were always constructive; even when some of my drafts rightly
deserved unequivocal destruction. I am deeply indebted to Heidrun for the considerable amount of time and effort that she took to read my many convoluted
drafts, and for her patience and support throughout the 3 years that we worked
together. Our discussions, both in her office and in colloquia, were always academically enriching. Heidrun deserves much credit for this project’s virtues.
However, all errors of fact, interpretation, or research design are my own. Her
support came not only in the form of constructive critiques of my writing or
research design but many letters of recommendation, the possibility to teach at the
Institute of Political Science, and encouraging me to speak German early at her
colloquium. She has been a true mentor.

v


vi

Prologue and Acknowledgements

The financial support for this project came from the German Academic
Exchange Service (DAAD), which I am incredibly grateful for being awarded the
three-and-a-half-year Graduate School Scholarship. Additionally, the Graduate
School of Global and Area Studies of the University of Leipzig provided me with
the possibility to apply for this scholarship and for additional financial and institutional support to attend supper schools and conferences outside of Germany. It
also provided me with a stimulating academic environment and lasting friendships.
In this institution, I am very grateful to Dr. Martina Keilbach for her work as the
graduate school’s academic coordinator, who kindly helped me circumvent many
administrative hurdles.
I warmly thank Prof. Ulf Engel (University of Leipzig) for taking on supervision
of my project at a late stage and for welcoming me in his colloquium. His guidance
allowed my work to become much more readable and to better frame the scope and
contributions of my study. I also thank Prof. Alejandro Velasco (New York
University), who was kind enough to read my doctoral dissertation and provide a
thorough, critical, and constructive review of it. He went above and beyond the call
of duty of a reviewer, thus helping me to accentuate the strengths and amend the
weaknesses of my book. In addition, Prof. Ursula Rao (University of Leipzig) and
Prof. Helena Flam (University of Leipzig) let me join and benefit from their colloquia and gave me constructive comments on several draft chapters of mine, and I
thank them for that. I appreciate the effort of my fellow doctoral candidates who
kindly read my many drafts and provided helpful comments in several colloquia
and winter schools of the Graduate School. I want to especially thank the members
of Prof. Zinecker’s colloquium: Steffanie Dreiack, Sebastian Hoppe, Wolfgang
Günther, Thomas Plötze, Patricia Rendón, and Dr. Hannes Warnecker-Berger. They
provided in-depth and constructive feedback in both formal and informal gatherings. I apologize for not mentioning every colleague who contributed to my work
by name. Nevertheless, be assured of my sincere appreciation. In the last stages of
this project, Lukas Kob and Ricarda Theobald kindly read parts of it and provided
valuable comments. Dr. Antonella Regueiro (Lynn University) also contributed
significantly to help increase the readability of my arguments, to which I am very
grateful.
My field research in Caracas from April to the end of June of 2016 was essential
for this research. I would not have been able to gather all necessary data without the
kind help of many people, which helped a middle-class guy from the mountains of
Mérida to get a good look inside the barrios of Caracas. I am immensely indebted to
my host family in Caracas. Marisela Ramirez, Sergio Flores, Soley Flores, and their
dog Mario. They heartily welcomed me into their home, and their kind hospitality
in hectic Caracas made my field research possible. My parents Daniel and Maria
Eugenia supported me immensely during my stay in Venezuela as they always
have. Other lifesavers in Caracas were the Alarcon Family, Natasha Diaz, Yobany
Guillen, Desirée Noack, and Adriana Quintiliani. I immensely appreciate their help:
I also thank the 58 interviewed partners who sacrificed some of their time to sit
down and talk with me. Their sincere effort made this project possible.


Prologue and Acknowledgements

vii

Finally, a big thank you goes to my partner Hanna Bethcke. Her patience,
German-language correction, support, and love were critical for me to finish this
project.
To Hanna, Heidrun, my family, Prof. Engel, all my professors, my friends and
colleagues who lend their helping hand in the making of this book, ¡Gracias!


Contents

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1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1.1 The Puzzle of Urban Violence in the Barrios of Caracas . . . . .
1.2 A Political Economy Approach to Analyzing Urban Violence .
1.2.1 Disentangling Macro and Substructural Variables . . . .
1.2.2 Theoretical Framework: Social Capital and Urban
Violence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1.3 Urban Violence and the Political Economy of Venezuela . . . .
1.3.1 Rent-Cum-Marginality: A Theoretical Model
to Analyze Susceptibility to Urban Violence . . . . . . . .
1.3.2 Barrels, Arepas, and Urban Growth: Explaining
Low Susceptibility to Urban Violence . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1.4 Methodology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1.4.1 Case Selection and Sources of Violence Rates
in the Barrios of Caracas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1.4.2 Operationalizing Social Capital . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1.5 Structure of the Book . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1.6 Interviews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2 A Theory of Social Capital as a Moderator of Urban Violence
2.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.2 Defining Urban Violence: The Instrumentality of Homicides
and the Social Versus Political Classification of Urban
Violence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.3 The Shortcomings of (Post-) Structural Theories Explaining
Urban Violence Rates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.3.1 Rentierism, Impunity, and the Political Order:
The Ambivalent Link Between Oil-Rents and Urban
Violence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.3.2 Economic Deprivation: The Low Explanatory Power
of Poverty, Inequality, and Urban Exclusion . . . . . . .

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ix


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Contents

2.3.3 Reconciling the “Paradox of Caracas”: Post-structural
Explanations of Urban Violence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.3.4 Filling the Gap: The Intervening Role of Social Capital .
2.4 Social Capital’s Moderating Effect of Urban Violence:
The Role of Social Network Density and Collective Efficacy . .
2.4.1 The Concept of Social Capital . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.4.2 The Role of Social Network Density and Collective
Efficacy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.4.3 Social Network Density: The Importance of Weak Ties .
2.4.4 Collective Efficacy: The Role of Social Disorganization
and Collective Action Within the Institutional Context . .
2.5 A Nonlinear Theoretical Model of Social Capital and Urban
Violence and Hypotheses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3 High-Connectedness in Three Barrios of Caracas: Empirical
Findings on Social Network Density . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.2 A Brief History of Catia, Petare, and Baruta . . . . . . . . . . .
3.3 Weak Tie Presence in Catia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.4 Weak Tie Presence in Petare . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.5 Weak Tie Presence in Baruta . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.6 Explaining High Social Network Density in Catia, Petare,
and Baruta . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.7 Interviews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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4 Making Informal Social Control Happen: Empirical Findings
on Collective Efficacy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.2 Social Disorganization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.2.1 Catia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.2.2 Petare . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.2.3 Baruta . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.2.4 Findings on Social Disorganization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.3 Collective Action Within the Institutional Context . . . . . . . . .
4.3.1 Catia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.3.2 Petare . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.3.3 Baruta . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.3.4 Findings on Collective Action Within the Institutional
Context . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Contents

xi

4.4 Conclusions on Collective Efficacy in Catia, Petare,
and Baruta . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120
4.5 Interviews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123
5 Urban Security Policies and Their Effects on Collective Efficacy .
5.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.2 The Political Economy of Urban Security Policies
in Venezuela from the 1960s Until 2011 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.2.1 Unsuccessful Attempts to Demilitarize Urban Security
Since 1969 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.2.2 Centering Urban Security Policies Around the “War on
Drugs” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.2.3 Findings on the Political Economy of Urban Security
Policies in Venezuela . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.3 Urban Security Policies and State-Barrio Relations . . . . . . . . . .
5.3.1 Catia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.3.2 Petare . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.3.3 Baruta . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.3.4 Findings on State-Barrio Relations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.4 Conclusions: Urban Security Policies and Transaction
Costs on Collective Efficacy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.5 Interviews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6 Conclusions: Perverse Social Capital as a Cause of High
Violence in the Barrios of Caracas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.1 Explaining the Puzzle of Violence in the Barrios of Caracas .
6.2 Contributions to the Literature and Policy Implications . . . . .
6.3 Calls for Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.4 Analyzing Urban Violence After Venezuela’s Economic
Collapse . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.5 Interviews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 177


List of Figures

Fig. 1.1

Fig. 1.2
Fig. 1.3
Fig. 1.4

Annual homicide rate per 100,000 inhabitants in Venezuela and
Caracas from 1940 to 2016. Source Table created by author with
homicide data from: Ministerio de Sanidad y Asistencia Social
(various years, 1970–1996), Ministerio de Salud y Desarrollo
Social (various years, 2000–2004), Ministerio de Salud (various
years, 2005–2006), Ministerio del Podar Popular para la Salud
(various years, 2007–2014), Cedeño (2013, 3), Pachico (2015),
Kronick (2016), and Seguridad, Justicia y Paz (2017). Homicide
rates calculated by the author with population information from:
Instituto Nacional de Estadística (2014a, 12; b, 9; c, 10), De
Lisio (2001, 218), and World Bank (2017a, b). Note The
following years were omitted due to lack of complete data:
1979, 1981, 1982, 1985, and 1988 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Disaggregated Venezuelan real annual GDP growth percentages
from 1998 to 2012 (constant 1997 prices) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The contribution of oil rents to the Venezuelan revenues from
1998 to 2012. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Venezuela’s demographic and urban growth rates from 1891 to
2011. Source Graph created by author with data from: Baptista
(2006, 927–930, 935), Instituto Nacional de Estadística (2014a,
12; 2016a, b), and World Bank 2016d (The World Bank
(2016d) source was used to gather data on urban population for
the years from 2001 to 2011. The World Bank classifies urban
centers in Venezuela as agglomerations of 1,000 inhabitants or
more (World Bank 2016e, Table 6). Therefore, this source
estimates the rate of urban population considerable higher than
Baptista’s (2006), which was used for data on this indicator
from 1891 to 2001). *Only including the following population
centers: Caracas, Maracaibo, Valencia, Ciudad Bolivar, Puerto
Cabello, Barquisimeto, Coro, Cumaná, and Carúpano. (1) Urban
centers with populations over 2,500 inhabitants. (2) Urban

3
17
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xiv

Fig. 1.5

Fig. 1.6

Fig. 1.7
Fig. 1.8
Fig. 2.1
Fig. 5.1

List of Figures

centers with populations over 3,500 inhabitants. (3) Urban
centers with populations over 5,000 inhabitants. (4) Urban
centers with populations over 10,000 inhabitants. (5) Urban
centers with populations over 1,000 inhabitants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Public and private sector net investment (gross fixed capital
formation) as a percentage of GDP from 1970 to 2010. Source
Figure created by the author with own calculations using data
for years 1970–1996: Banco Central de Venezuela (2002, 126,
175); for years 1997–2010: World Bank (2016a, b). Note
Investment to GDP ratios calculated in Bolivares with 1968
constant prices. For the 1970–1984 series, constant prices of
1984 for the 1985–1996 series, and constant prices of 1997 for
the 1997–2010 series . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Percentages of household poverty in Venezuela from 1997 to
2012 in Caracas (note that the data provided by the Venezuela’s
Instituto Nacional de Estdística (INE) was not disaggregated
enough to calculate the exact values of poverty and inequality
for the Caracas Metropolitan Area (CMA). Therefore, the values
presented are an average of those reported for the Capital
District and Miranda state. One-third of Miranda state,
according to INE population data (2016c), belongs to the CMA.
This makes the values presented in the above table
representative of Caracas to a large extent but they might
overestimate the city’s population size) from 2002 to 2012.
Source Figure created by the author with data from: Instituto
Nacional de Estadística (2016c) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
Gini coefficients as a measure of inequality in Venezuela from
1997 to 2012 in Caracas from 2002 to 2012 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
Map of Caracas, Venezuela with the location of Catia/23 de
Enero, Petare and Santa Cruz del Este/Minas de Baruta barrios. . . . 28
A nonlinear political economy model of urban violence in
Venezuela . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
Annual drug charges and prison incarceration rates per 100,000
inhabitants in Venezuela from 2001 to 2011 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133


List of Tables

Table
Table
Table
Table
Table
Table
Table

3.1
3.2
3.3
4.1
4.2
4.3
4.4

Table 4.5
Table 4.6
Table
Table
Table
Table

5.1
5.2
5.3
6.1

Social network density indicators in Catia . . . . . . . . . .
Social network density indicators in Petare . . . . . . . . .
Social network density indicators in Baruta . . . . . . . . .
Indicators of social disorganization in Catia . . . . . . . . .
Indicators of social disorganization in Petare . . . . . . . .
Indicators of social disorganization in Baruta . . . . . . . .
Indicators of institutional context and community
organization in Catia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Indicators of institutional context and community
organization in Petare. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Indicators of institutional context and community
organization in Baruta . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Indicators of state-barrio relations in Catia . . . . . . . . . .
Indicators of state-barrio relations in Petare . . . . . . . . .
Indicators of state-barrio relations in Baruta . . . . . . . . .
Findings of social capital’s qualitative comparative
analysis in three barrios of Caracas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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143

. . . . . . . 158

xv


Chapter 1

Introduction

Abstract High urban violence rates have been one of the leading development challenges in Caracas, Venezuela, as its homicide rates have been higher than most other
Latin American cities. However, most violence occurs in its barrios or socioeconomically marginalized urban neighborhoods. This book aims to examine the structural
causes of high violence rates in the barrios of Caracas while socioeconomic indicators improved through qualitative comparative analysis and a political economy
approach. The outcome of high violence rates under improving socioeconomic conditions counters the established literature on urban violence, which shows the significance of this book. The introductory chapter discusses the structural parameter
under which violence in the barrios of Caracas took place, which also frames the
study’s qualitative comparative analysis. It discusses Venezuela’s dependence on oil
exports since the 1920s, which generated economic rent, reduced the productivity of
non-oil sectors, and increased the urbanization rate. However, the chapter shows that
in the early twenty-first century, socioeconomic indicators improved, thus reducing
marginality or economic deprivation. A reduction of marginality should have theoretically also led to lower urban violence rates, as lower marginality should reduce
the incentives of committing homicide to achieve economic and cultural goals such
as accumulating economic resources. This book forwards social capital as a possible
intervening substructural variable that can explain the politico-economic structural
conditions—or “causes of causes”—for high violence rates in the barrios of Caracas
to occur. The analysis of social capital’s intervening role can explain the theoretical
puzzle of increased violence rates under improving socioeconomic conditions.
Keywords Social capital · Political economy · Violence rates · Barrios ·
Caracas · Venezuela

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020
D. S. Leon, Violence in the Barrios of Caracas, The Latin American
Studies Book Series, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-22940-5_1

1


2

1 Introduction

1.1 The Puzzle of Urban Violence in the Barrios of Caracas
15 millones de armas ilegales hay actualmente en el país. 72% de los asesinados son jóvenes
de entre 15 y 29 años de edad, generalmente de sexo masculino. 63% de las víctimas de
armas de fuego reciben más de cinco tiros.
—Front-page of El Nacional, 13 August 20101

The text above was the front-page headline of one of Venezuela’s oldest and most
renowned newspapers. Accompanying it was a large-size and gruesome image of
Caracas’ central morgue. This image, which covered most of El Nacional’s frontpage was a response to the Hugo Chavez administration’s (1999–2013) repeated
denial of Venezuela’s violence problem (Acosta 2011, 85–86). The image showed
the morgue overflowing with the naked and lifeless bodies of young and middle-aged
male adults lying on stretchers and even on the floor because the institution could not
process their high inflow fast enough. Official data on homicides back the statistics
presented in this front-page edition, as over 91% of homicides in Venezuela occurred
through firearms (Comisión Presidencial para el Control de Armas, Municiones y
Desarme 2012, 82; Zubillaga et al. 2008, 763).
Venezuela has not experienced any significant armed conflict since the nineteenth
century. No major interstate conflict has occurred in South America since the Chaco
War of the 1930s (Martin 2006, 173–176). Yet the front-page of El Nacional cited
above illustrated the problem of high urban violence rates that has plagued Venezuela
and particularly its capital since the late 1980s. In this book, I equate the term
violence rates with annual homicide rates per 100,000 inhabitants for the sake of
measurement. Homicides provide objective evidence for the use of violence, which
is why this book employs the latter term instead of the former. As illustrated in
Fig. 1.1, violence rates became a major socioeconomic problem in Caracas and
Venezuela only since after the late 1980s. Urban violence is a significant problem for
socioeconomic development, as it hurts productivity, which exacerbates poverty and
inequality (Fox and Hoelscher 2012, 432; Moncada 2016, 4). It is a social outcome
that tears families apart and severely hinders possibilities of upward social mobility
of impoverished urban communities.
Caracas’ urban violence rates reached and even surpassed those of other high
violence cities around the world, which evidenced the existence of this socioeconomic
problem in the Venezuelan capital. The average violence rates from 2005 to 2012
of other high violence cities around the world were 21 in Bogota, 59 in Cape Town,
80 in Kingston, 71 in San Salvador, and 83 in Tegucigalpa, while Caracas’ average
was of about 114 (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 2013). In comparison
to other high violence cities in Venezuela, violence rates in Caracas almost doubled
the average violence rates from 2011 to 2014 of Barquisimeto and Guyana City, the
1 In

English: “15 million illegal firearms in the country. 72% of homicide victims are from 15 to
29 years of age and primarily male. 63% of firearm victims suffer over five gunshots” (El Nacional
13 August 2010, accessed on 19 October 2017, http://kiosko.net/ve/2010-08-13/np/ve_nacional.
html). This and other translations in this book are the author’s own.


1.1 The Puzzle of Urban Violence in the Barrios of Caracas

3

160
140
120
100
80
60
40
20

1940
1942
1944
1946
1948
1950
1952
1954
1956
1958
1961
1963
1965
1967
1969
1971
1973
1975
1977
1980
1983
1986
1989
1991
1993
1995
1997
1999
2001
2003
2005
2007
2009
2011
2013
2015

0

Venezuela

Caracas

Fig. 1.1 Annual homicide rate per 100,000 inhabitants in Venezuela and Caracas from 1940 to
2016. Source Table created by author with homicide data from: Ministerio de Sanidad y Asistencia Social (various years, 1970–1996), Ministerio de Salud y Desarrollo Social (various years,
2000–2004), Ministerio de Salud (various years, 2005–2006), Ministerio del Podar Popular para la
Salud (various years, 2007–2014), Cedeño (2013, 3), Pachico (2015), Kronick (2016), and Seguridad, Justicia y Paz (2017). Homicide rates calculated by the author with population information
from: Instituto Nacional de Estadística (2014a, 12; b, 9; c, 10), De Lisio (2001, 218), and World
Bank (2017a, b). Note The following years were omitted due to lack of complete data: 1979, 1981,
1982, 1985, and 1988

country’s second and third most violent cities, which exhibited averages of 60 and 58
yearly homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, respectively (Pachico 2015). Therefore,
high violence rates in Venezuela’s capital has been one of its main socioeconomic
problems in the last decades.
This present book contributes to the urban violence literature in the following
manner: It focuses the analysis on Caracas’ barrios, which are the urban spaces
exhibiting the highest concentration of violence rates. The urban spaces that are
barrios are parts of a city that concentrate its socioeconomically marginalized inhabitants that often live in informal neighborhoods built in such spaces (Zayerz Moitalta
2013, 110; Camacho 2015, 53–55; Bolivar 2015, 62–63).2 In economic terms, barrio
2 Early modernization theory attempted to explain the phenomenon of barrios by arguing that it was

the first step toward the social mobility of the rural-to-urban migrant, and that secular economic
growth would increase barrio-dweller savings rate, and thus investment in capital that lifts them
out of poverty (Frankenhoff 1967, 29; Pachner 1977, 18). However, in many developing countries
of the contemporary world the stability of informal settlements has been resilient (Marx et al.
2013, 188–189). Furthermore, evidence shows that barrio-eradication programs worsen the problem, because they do not eradicate the structural conditions creating these marginal urban spaces
(Bettencourt and West 2010, 912).


4

1 Introduction

inhabitants are socioeconomically marginalized because their economic productivity
is less than what they need for subsistence consumption (Elsenhans 1994, 396). In
addition, one may use several terms to refer to barrios, such as slums, shantytowns,
or ranchos, but these are pejorative descriptions of these spaces and their inhabitants (Deffner 2011, 111–112; Perlman 2010, 152–156). This book chooses the term
barrios to minimize carrying over social prejudices of these urban spaces and their
inhabitants.
Barrios are the urban spaces bearing the brunt of the significant socioeconomic
problem that is urban violence. The perception of urban violence and insecurity tends
to spread somewhat evenly among a city’s population, but actual urban violence overwhelmingly occurs in barrios. Data from 2010 shows that about 80% of homicide
victims in Venezuela came from marginalized urban areas (Zubillaga 2013, 108).
Violence in barrios overwhelmingly involves young males as perpetrators and victims (Imbusch 2010, 22–24, 31–35; Auyero and Kilanski 2015, 189–191; Zubillaga
et al. 2015, 227–239). It is also important to note that barrio growth, youth bulges, or
economic deprivation like poverty and inequality cannot explain high violence rates
in Caracas and Venezuela since the 1990s. The reason is that longitudinal empirical evidence contradicts such often-mentioned explanations. As elaborated in this
chapter’s third section, higher violence rates occurred while socioeconomic indicators were comparatively favorable, which means that to explain high violence in
the barrios of Caracas it becomes vital to examine substructural variables that can
intervene between macroeconomic conditions and urban violence rates.
What makes high violence rates in Caracas puzzling is that they occurred while
socioeconomic conditions improved due to high oil windfalls in the twenty-first
century. By 2012 socioeconomic indicators like inequality (measured through the
Gini coefficient) in Caracas and Venezuela decreased to about 0.4, while urban and
national violence rates were among the highest in Latin America (Instituto Nacional
de Estadística 2016c; Zubillaga 2013, 108–109). The behavior of violence rates in
Caracas poses a theoretical puzzle to the academic literature on urban violence,
which mainly posits increased violence rates after economic downturns. Similarly,
improved socioeconomic conditions induced by economic upturns should prevent
violence rates from increasing (Cook and Zarkin 1985; Bushway et al. 2013; Florence
and Barnett 2013, 307–309; Rosenfeld and Messner 2013, 1–6; Rosenfeld et al.
2013, 2–3; Zubillaga 2013, 108–109). In economic terms, urban violence should
have behaved counter-cyclically. That is, homicide rates should have decreased if
the business cycle, or overall economic productivity, increased. However, examining
the evolution of violence rates in Caracas up to 2011, the year where I was able
to collect suburban data on violence, shows that they behaved pro-cyclically. In
other words, violence rates increased while the business cycle, or overall economic
productivity, increased.
Moreover, not all barrios in Caracas experience the same violence rates. There
are significant variations of violence rates in different barrios, even if on average
they are higher than in middle-class neighborhoods. How can one account for interbarrio variations of violence rates while Caracas-wide violence rates behaved procyclically? What factors contribute to variations in urban violence rates between


1.1 The Puzzle of Urban Violence in the Barrios of Caracas

5

barrios? The behavior of violence rates in the barrios of Caracas creates a theoretical
puzzle that the literature, to the knowledge of the author, has not yet explored.
Comparing Caracas with other cities around the world such as Managua,
Nicaragua, and Cairo, Egypt, which experienced the high presence of barrios and high
poverty, as well as low violence rates, exemplifies the theoretical puzzle addressed
by this book. Nicaragua is among the poorest countries in Latin America. However,
in comparison to other countries in the region, especially in Central America, it
showed yearly violence rates under 14 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants from 1998
to 2012 (Zinecker 2014, 36, 467–468; United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
2013). Cairo, on the other hand, saw worsening socioeconomic conditions after the
International Monetary Fund-sponsored structural adjustment programs in the 1990s
that reduced state welfare services while high fertility rates had swelled the urban
population, thus giving way to giant barrios (Deboulet 2011, 202, 209, 228; Harrigan
and El-Said, 2009, 78). Nonetheless, annual violence rates in Cairo were less than
one homicide per 100,000 inhabitants yearly from 2003 to 2009 (United Nations
Office on Drugs and Crime 2013). The fact that urban violence rates in Caracas
have been high while socioeconomic indicators improved, and that other cities like
Managua and Cairo show low violence rates under poor socioeconomic conditions,
further counters the argument blaming high urban violence rates on the presence of
barrios and detrimental socioeconomic conditions.
This book’s objective is to approach an explanation of the theoretical puzzle of
persistently high violence under improving socioeconomic conditions. Specifically,
this book analyzes why politico-economic structures affected the ability of Caracas’ working-age and adult barrio inhabitants to organize effectively to reduce violence while socioeconomic conditions improved. Analyzing effective organization
to reduce violence serves to examine the ability of these barrio inhabitants to create
formal and informal organizations of social control. In the analysis of public goods
like security (Chaffe 1992, 4–5, 141; Olson 1971, 99–100), this book draws from
the lenses of political economy—the combined use of “state-of-the-art economics
and political science” (Elsenhans 1996, 15)—and not the discipline of Marxist dogmatism (Moore 1989, 584–586). The political economy approach followed in this
book accommodates analytical “shortcuts” (Anderson 1972, 396) provided by other
relevant disciplines like urban sociology and criminology.
This book offers a cross-sectional qualitative comparative analysis of community
organization in three barrios of Caracas to explain the puzzle of violence rates in
the barrios of Caracas through a political economy perspective. The three analyzed
barrios were barrios are Catia/23 de Enero (henceforth Catia), Petare, and Santa Cruz
del Este/Minas de Baruta (henceforth, Baruta). In line with the research goals, the
analysis of community organization focuses on ways that barrios inhabitants can
effectively impart informal social control to prevent or reduce individuals to use
violence as a tool to achieve their objectives. Cross-sectional analyses, however, do
not eliminate considering the historical context. Comparing cases among a set point
in time allows capturing accumulated historical effects (Rosenfeld et al. 2013, 3).
The main finding was that informal social control was not effective in some barrios
because of high transaction costs. Transaction costs are inherent costs of achieving


6

1 Introduction

actionable goals, such as information costs (Coase 1998). Furthermore, elements of
the institutional context found in the barrios of Caracas contributed to the creation of
high transaction costs such as community organizations created and funded by the
national government and urban security policies that repressively enforced the law on
some crimes. Furthermore, specific low-scale organizational arrangements increased
the incentives for using violence as a tool to predate on economic resources, even
under improving socioeconomic conditions.
I reached the above conclusion after testing the intervening role of social capital
between Caracas’ politico-economic structures and high violence rates in the three
barrios studied. The concept of social capital refers to the norms and rules binding social networks and propitiating trust and cooperation in a community, whose
members repeatedly interact with each other (Fukuyama 2001, 7, 14; Lin 2001,
19; Putnam et al. 1993, 81–82). The new institutional economics perspective sheds
light into the mechanisms that explain why social capital leads to organizational
arrangements allowing for groups of people repeatedly interacting with each other
to effectively achieve goals through collective action. Namely, the presence of social
capital lowers transaction costs to pull local and extra-local resources to achieve
collective goals like imparting informal social control. By lowering transaction costs
to impart informal social control, an urban neighborhood is more able to prevent
or act against violent individuals and groups, and thus lower urban violence rates
(Coase 1937; Morenoff et al. 2001, 519–521; Sampson et al. 1997, 919; Stiglitz
1999, 60–62; Uphoff 1999, 218). Due to the focus on politico-economic structures
elaborated in this book, the analytical contribution rests on examining the structural
macro-determinants or “causes of causes” of high urban violence rates in the barrios of Caracas (Moore 1966; Parker 2008, 2–8, 110–120; Paoli 2013, 11, 22–23;
Zinecker 2007b, 119).
As explained in the coming chapters, social capital can lead to organizational
arrangements preventing and producing high urban violence rates depending on the
effects of the institutional context (Rubio 1997, 815; McIlwaine and Moser 2001,
967–968; Portes 1998, 18). The evolution of context-specific institutions, which are
the social “rules of the game” (North 2005, 1–2), affects transaction costs, which
places conditions on organizational arrangements in an urban neighborhood such as
the ability to pull collective resource to achieve common goals like preventing or
acting against violent agents. I build and test through causal process tracing (Bennett and Checkel 2015; Collier 2011) a qualitative theoretical model where social
capital intervenes in the causal relationship between macrostructural conditions and
urban violence. Hence, the causal process tracing provided by this present book runs
from politico-economic macro-conditions to the intervening mesostructure of social
capital.
Analyzing the “causes of causes” of violence in the barrios of Caracas refers
to the analysis of how structures or collective behavior lead to certain outcomes.
Structural analyses as the one performed in this book originate from the work of
Émile Durkheim. He proposes that the compositions of social structures lead to social


1.1 The Puzzle of Urban Violence in the Barrios of Caracas

7

outcomes.3 This approach leaves aside the analysis of violence’s agency. In other
words, this book focuses on collective action at the local level of the barrio and does
not examine the behavior of violent individuals or violent acts. Agent-level studies
of urban violence aid in explaining the risk factors of violence and victimization.
However, they do not “fully explain why rates of violence change over time or why
some communities have persistently higher rates of violence than others” (Emphasis
in original, Rosenfeld et al. 2013, 13–14). The aim here is not to argue that analyzing
agency or individual behavior is irrelevant since agency is often critical in explaining
variations between cases with similar structural compositions (Fukuyama 2014, 31).
Instead, the purpose is to highlight that violence rates are structural variables, which
require structural explanations.
This introductory chapter continues in Sect. 1.2 with a brief explanation of how
this present book analyzes high violence rates in the barrios of Caracas through a
political economy conceptual framework. This book’s conceptual framework aims
to avoid linear explanations by differentiating politico-economic macrostructures
making a case susceptible, but not necessarily leading, to violence and intervening politico-economic mesostructures helping trace the structural conditions, or
“causes of causes,” leading to high urban violence rates. Section 1.3 discusses the
politico-economic condition making Venezuela susceptible to urban violence, which
concisely explores the evolution of Venezuela’s political economy since major oil
exploitation began in 1922. In addition, Sect. 1.3 shows how Venezuela’s political
economy created a structural condition in the decade before 2011 that should have
led to reduced violence rates in Caracas and nationally. Section 1.4 further elaborates on this book’s research design and methodology. Finally, Sect. 1.5 describes
the organization of the forthcoming five chapters and their individual findings.

1.2 A Political Economy Approach to Analyzing Urban
Violence
To justify a literature review of violent crime from an economic perspective, criminologists Richard Rosenfeld and Steven Messner use the metaphor of “Sutton’s
Law.” It comes from the (mostly) legend of Willie Sutton, an American bank robber
who, when captured by U.S. federal agents, reportedly said that he robbed banks
simply because, “that’s where the money was” (Rosenfeld and Messner 2013, 1). In
3 Durkheim

provides an illustrative example by explaining that suicide, a seemingly individual
action, has its causes in the structural constitution of a society, like religious cultural structures
(Durkheim 1897, 8, 335–336; Durkheim 1893, 356, 360). In his example, social structures created
by Protestantism appear to lead to more suicides than those created by Catholicism (Durkheim
1897, 8, 335–336). Structures arise and reproduce social outcomes because individuals require
information to assess whether their recursive actions will keep on having desirable payoffs (North
1991, 97–98; North et al. 2009, 16). They channel information in recursive human actions, which
delineates individual choices affecting attempts by groups to organize toward achieving community
goals (Giddens 1984, 2; Collins 2004, 5–6).


8

1 Introduction

the tradition of political economy, the so-called “Sutton’s Law” hints to structural
conditions that create powerful incentives for the use of violence by individuals to
take advantage of economic opportunities (Merton 1938, 672). For example, conditions of severe poverty and lack of economic opportunities can create powerful
incentives for individuals to use violence as a tool to gain economic resources. Such
theoretical argument has strong empirical and conceptual backing in the urban violence literature, as there is a clear negative correlation between structural economic
conditions and violence (Rosenfeld and Messner 2013, 3–6; Rosenfeld et al. 1999,
495–497, 512–514; Sampson et al. 2002, 443–445). Hence, the literature points to
neighborhood disadvantage and economic downturns as the causes of high violence
rates. Following such theoretical logic, the literature on urban violence, emanating
mainly from the United States, identified a counter-cyclical relationship between
economic structures and increased violence (Brown and Osterman 2012, 220; Cook
and Zarkin 1985; Moncada 2016, 5, 8). In addition, the literature on violence rates
in Venezuela, and of other cases, has blamed its cause on the high opportunities
provided by structural economic conditions like economic rent windfalls from high
oil exports (Briceño-Leon 2006, 2012; España 1993). As explained below in more
detail, economic rent means excess income not used to compensate labor, like high oil
exports (Buchanan 1980, 3; Elsenhans 2004, 89). However, disentangling politicoeconomic structures becomes imperative to properly trace the causal factors creating
opportunities and incentives leading certain urban agents to resort to violence as an
economic resource accumulation tool.

1.2.1 Disentangling Macro and Substructural Variables
The theoretical shortcoming of arguments in favor of a counter-cyclical relationship
between structural economic conditions and urban violence is that they are often
either ambivalent in their process tracing or provide supply-side explanations. In
other words, many established theories on urban violence tend to offer linear explanations of this outcome. Ambivalent theories providing linear causal relationships
tend to arise when theoretical models ignore the embeddedness (Granovetter 1985)
of different social structures like political and economic ones (Przeworski 2003;
Rodrik 2007; Shirley 2009). Ambivalent or linear theories often lead to fallacious
causal statements. Furthermore, supply-side empiricism is common among theories highlighting the importance of economic resources that one can loot, as they
establish the causes of urban violence solely on higher opportunities over its costs
(Medina 2008, 45–47; Cramer 2002, 1846–1847). Banks certainly provided Willie
Sutton with high opportunities for armed robbery because, “that’s where the money
was,” but he and other armed bank robbers were not committing such crime as an
end in itself, but as a means to meet a structurally induced demand. Bank robbers or
homicide perpetrators commit their crimes as a means to achieve culturally valued
goals like fulfilling the “American Dream” (Messner and Rosenfeld 1994). Importantly, globalizing processes lead individuals to aspire toward achieving economic


1.2 A Political Economy Approach to Analyzing Urban Violence

9

goals, especially in Latin America, and not just in the United States. A conceptual
framework seeking to approximate a theoretical model tracing the process of the
macro-determinants of high urban violence rates in the barrios of Caracas must disentangle the hierarchy of structural variables inducing the use of urban violence.
Ranking variables as either macrostructural or substructural aid significantly to disentangle the hierarchy of structural variables.
It is crucial to consider the structural difference between Gewaltanfälligkeit—or
susceptibility to violence—and Gewaltwirklichkeit—or actuality of violence to
develop a conceptual framework for the study of violence in the barrios of Caracas (Zinecker 2014, 42–43). Susceptibility to violence occurs in cases where the
macrostructure tends to produce the outcome of high urban violence rates. The actuality of violence occurs in a subset of cases that are susceptible to violence, but
where substructural variables lead to high urban violence rates. For example, Managua or Cairo are cities displaying susceptibility to high violence, due to the high
concentration of poverty, but their violence rates are actually low. On the other hand,
San Salvador or Tegucigalpa are cities displaying both susceptibility and actuality
of violence, since they exhibit a high concentration of poverty and high violence
rates. Tracing the causal process leading to actual urban violence helps explain why
such an outcome appears only in some cases and not in others with similar structural
conditions. This conceptual framework helps to avoid “black-box” explanations, as
one can engage in process tracing at the structural level.4 In doing so, one meets the
methodological completeness standard of establishing a theoretical correspondence
between conditions and outcomes by disaggregating substructural variables from
the larger dominating structures (Waldner 2015, 128). The larger structures remain
constant and become the substructural variables’ parameter (Lijphart 1971, 683). In
turn, substructural variables become the independent variables linking the causal process between the structural parameter and the independent variable. Approximating
a theoretical causal model tracing the mechanism linking this study’s macrostructural parameters to high violence rates in Caracas up to 2011 requires the analysis
of substructural variables.

1.2.2 Theoretical Framework: Social Capital and Urban
Violence
Briefly stated, this study’s theoretical framework is that the structural composition of
social capital acts as the substructural variable. Social capital’s structural composition
either allows or prevents adult and working-age inhabitants of Caracas’ barrios from
4 Checkel

(2006, 362) illustrates the point behind “black box” explanations through the example
of the international relations thesis “that democracies do not fight other democracies.” Empirical
evidence seems to back such thesis, but that there is little theoretical explanation for how the
mechanics of that process work. Meaning, there is little process tracing between foreign policy in
democratic countries and lack of war between democracies.


10

1 Introduction

organizing toward the goal of preventing or acting against motivated violent agents.
Social capital can achieve reductions in urban violence by allowing urban neighborhoods like barrios to impart informal social control (Rosenfeld et al. 2001, 286–287;
Messner et al. 2004, 884; Messner and Rosenfeld 1994; Messner and Rosenfeld
1997, 1396; Rosenfeld and Messner 2013, 61–62, 64). As explained further in the
next section, the motivation to use violence by agents may arise from the structural parameter of institutional-anomie induced by the country’s politico-economic
macrostructure. Briefly, institutional-anomie refers to the structural condition when
economic norms become the dominant institution in society (Rosenfeld and Messner 1997, 213–214, 2013, 61–62, 64). However, Venezuela’s political economy and
its evolution over the twentieth and twenty-first centuries created a macrostructural
condition where susceptibility to urban violence declined in the decade leading up
to 2011.
This theoretical framework helps achieve a nonlinear process tracing between
Venezuela’s politico-economic structural conditions and urban violence rates by analyzing the intervening effect of the substructural variable that is social capital. The
literature has extensively discussed the concepts of social capital and urban violence,
but there is still limited theoretical conceptualization on their relationship (McIlwaine
and Moser 2001, 966). This study follows sociologist Nan Lin (2001, 19) in defining social capital as the investment in social relations with the expectation of future
returns, which allows for trust and cooperation in a given community. This definition
is consistent with that of the major theorists of the concept, such as sociologists James
Coleman (1988) and Bourdieu (1977), as well as political scientists Robert Putnam
et al. (1993) and Francis Fukuyama (2001). These theorists depart from the Marxian
premise that there is capital in repeated social relations when there are “investments
with expected returns in the marketplace” (Lin 2001, 3). However, a lingering problem has been very flexible applicability of the concept; leading it to become a sort
of “social string theory” or a “social theory of everything.” Social scientists have
relied on social capital to explain various social phenomena ranging from the quality
of democratic institutions (Putnam et al. 1993, 83–86, 164–167),5 and of education
(Coleman 1988, S109–S110), to the basis for economic growth (Collier 1998, 2), the
prevalence of corruption (Fukuyama 2001, 9; Warren 2004), the social integration
of people with disabilities (Condeluci and Fromknecht 2014), and, of course, urban
violence.
5 Putnam

et al. (1993, 83–86, 164–167) examined the widely differing performances of the Italian
regional governments. Although the different regional governments were constituted under a similar
institutional framework and endowed with similar economic resources, socioeconomic performance
between them was highly inequitable. Putnam’s conclusion was that some Italian regions developed
civic networks of cooperation or social capital. Social capital like any capital generates positive-sum
growth because it solves dilemmas of collective action, such as the prisoner’s dilemma, without the
need of third-party contractual enforcement. Moreover, De Tocqueville’s (1841, 452–445) observation of how nineteenth-century Americans regularly engaged in political and civil associations is
noteworthy because—he argued that this was a major factor in keeping this young nation “civilized”
and to promote progress and democratic stability. Tocqueville’s work was an important source for
the development of Putnam’s conceptualization social capital.


1.2 A Political Economy Approach to Analyzing Urban Violence

11

The conceptualization of social capital concerning urban violence stresses the
process of institutional-anomie leading to the rise of violence as an instrumental
tool or crucial means of resource predation. Institutional-anomie explains that an
increase of urban violence rates may occur when the overarching politico-economic
structure leads economic norms to become the dominant institution in a society
(Hagedorn 2014, 347–349; Rosenfeld and Messner 1997, 213–214, 2013, 61–62,
64). Institutional-anomie does not refer to normlessness—Durkheim’s (1893, 356,
360) classical definition of anomie—but the dominance of economic norms in a
society (Rosenfeld and Messner 1997, 212). As mentioned above, institutions refer
to the social “rules of the game,” and one finds different institutions—political,
economic, and cultural—embedded in social structures (Granovetter 1985; North
2005, 1–2). Despite the embeddedness of different institutions their social integration
tends to be problematic. For example, “being a ‘good parent’ comes at the expense
of being a ‘good employee,’ and vice versa” (Rosenfeld and Messner 1997, 213).
When the economic structure wins this balance of power, it establishes the “rules
of the game” or institutional norms, and thus achieving economic goals becomes
more valuable than any other. If the economic structure does not provide formal or
legal ways for agents—especially youth—to achieve such goals (Merton 1938, 674),
institutional-anomie becomes a conduct of increased urban violence rates by making
its instrumental use a mechanism of resource predation or market access a viable
norm among certain individuals and groups (Messner and Rosenfeld 1997, 1396).
The structuration of social capital, meaning the structure-agency interplay leading
to the formation or continuation of social structures (Giddens 1984), helps reduce
urban violence rates by creating informal institutions that foment social control. This
structuration occurs as social networks become significantly “dense” (Mitchell 1969,
15, 17–18; Borgatti and Halgin 2011, 1171; Goyal 2007, 64), which transaction costs
of achieving collective efficacy—sustainable organization toward specific goals like
imparting informal social control (Messner and Rosenfeld 1997; Rosenfeld et al.
2001). Nonetheless, high social network density is necessary, but not sufficient for
a certain structuration of social capital, which lowers violence rates in an urban
neighborhood (Morenoff et al. 2001, 547–548). The reduction of transaction costs
allowing for collective efficacy is the result of social capital’s positive by-products
like trust and cooperation. However, social capital can produce negative externalities or unintended consequences to third parties resulting from social interactions.
Social capital produces unintended negative consequences or negative externalities,
as collective efficacy allows certain groups to pull resources together to efficiently
predate on economic resources through violence (Field 2008, 98; McIlwaine and
Moser 2001, 981; Rubio 1997; Warren 2004). Therefore, the structuration of social
capital can produce both positive externalities in marginalized neighborhoods like
barrios. It can produce positive externalities like increasing trust and cooperation in a
barrio to prevent youth from joining violent street gangs. Under a different structuration, however, social capital can produce negative externalities like allowing street
gangs to use violence more effectively as a tool to accumulate economic resources.
A problem with the early conceptualization of social capital, forwarded by James
Coleman, compounded the investment in social networks with the production of


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