Diversity, social capital, and cohesion

Alejandro Portes, Erik Vickstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

251 Scopus citations


We review the bourgeoning literature on ethno-racial diversity and its alleged effects on public trust and cohesion in the context of the evolution of the concept of social capital and earlier claims about its manifold positive effects. We present evidence that questions such claims and points to the roots of civicness and trust in deep historical processes associated with race and immigration. We examine the claims that immigration reduces social cohesion by drawing on the sociological classics to show the forms of cohesion that actually keep modern societies together. This leads to a typology that shows "communitarianism" to be just one such form and one not required, and not necessarily ideal, for the smooth operation of complex organizations and institutions. Implications of our conclusions for future research and immigration policy are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)461-479
Number of pages19
JournalAnnual Review of Sociology
StatePublished - Aug 11 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Ethnic diversity
  • Immigration
  • Social cohesion
  • Trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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