Title

Action-based trust : a pathway to voter participation among community-based national service volunteers in Kerala, India

Publication Date

1-1-2005

Degree Name

MA in International Education

First Advisor

David Shallenberger

Abstract

Community-based national service programs, such as the National Service Scheme (NSS) in India have done so much to help revive the role of civic engagement as a tool to help address social and community issues. Another aspect of civic engagement that often goes unnoticed is the influence that voter participation has in governing the role that community-based organizations have in a specific community. This study overlaps these ideas with social capital theory to help examine how participation in community-based national service programs by students at institutions of higher education in Kerala, India affects their participation in electoral politics. This study presents results from both focused group interviews and a questionnaire that was administered to current NSS volunteers and former NSS volunteers. The data was analyzed through a grounded theory methodology which provided five categories (Community Development, Political Awareness, Social/Interpersonal Trust, Collective/Individual Action, and Capacity Building/Empowerment) that helped mold the core category of Action-Based Trust. This core category acts as a theoretical model that is firmly rooted in the political and social history of Kerala and James Coleman's view of social capital. Additionally, the data reveals that by taking action, whether it is political or direct service, these NSS volunteers were able to forge a level of trust and reciprocity that has allowed the NSS program in Kerala the ability to address social issues that are relevant to the development of this tiny, yet populated state in southwestern India.

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