Student Summer Scholars Manuscripts




The economic structure of a city affects the civic well-being of its residents. The degree of ‘localism’ in an economy affects the area’s social capital, contributing to the development of its civic institutions. I examine the relationship between localism and social capital in case studies of four Michigan cities: Flint, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Pontiac. A more local, or independent economic structure, is resilient to harmful effects of globalization. Local business leaders support civic institutions. Bridging social capital flourishes, creating a civically engaged population. Big-business dominated economic structures, on the other hand, foster an unstable environment and are relatively more susceptible to the effect of global economic forces. The heart of a locality’s economic structure, thus, provides insight into the development of a city’s civic institutions.