Faculté des lettres et sciences humaines

Reciprocity as a trigger of social cooperation in contemporary immigration societies?

Manatschal, Anita

In: Acta Sociologica, 2015, vol. 58, no. 3, p. 233-248

While the system stabilizing function of reciprocity is widely acknowledged, much less attention has been paid to the argument that reciprocity might initiate social cooperation in the first place. This paper tests Gouldner’s early assumption that reciprocity may act as a ‘starting mechanism’ of social cooperation in consolidating societies. The empirical test scenario builds on... More

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    Summary
    While the system stabilizing function of reciprocity is widely acknowledged, much less attention has been paid to the argument that reciprocity might initiate social cooperation in the first place. This paper tests Gouldner’s early assumption that reciprocity may act as a ‘starting mechanism’ of social cooperation in consolidating societies. The empirical test scenario builds on unequal civic engagement between immigrants and nationals, as this engagement gap can be read as a lack of social cooperation in consolidating immigration societies. Empirical analyses using survey data on reciprocal norms and based on Bayesian hierarchical modelling lend support for Gouldner’s thesis, underlining thereby the relevance of reciprocity in today’s increasingly diverse societies: individual norms of altruistic reciprocity elevate immigrants’ propensity to volunteer, reducing thereby the engagement gap between immigrants and natives in the area of informal volunteering. In other words, compliance with altruistic reciprocity may trigger cooperation in social strata, where it is less likely to occur. The positive moderation of the informal engagement gap through altruistic reciprocity turns out to be most pronounced for immigrants who are least likely to engage in informal volunteering, meaning low, but also highly educated immigrants.