This article reflects on the institutional origins of social capital. The premise
is that the effective institutionalization of the greater good through efficient
services and strategies of survival will nourish the urge to conform and
comply with the organizational regime of the state. It is suggested that social capital is conceived in shared values – based upon generalized trust and an understanding of the rights and duties of the individual. In successful (libertarian) democracies, the connective tissue of social capital is displayed in the degree and extent of public participation. Under conditions of poverty, the assumption that strong norms of trust and high levels of public participation affect a state’s prospects for effective and responsive government becomes even more relevant. The question is whether the measurable prevalence of social capital will ensure or increase the durability of the
state’s distributive and extractive projects. However, the quest to find an instrument of measurement is still in a contested terrain. This article reflects on issues of conceptual clarity and descriptive data of attitudes related to delivery and trust.