“Lies build trust”: Social capital, masculinity, and community-based resource management in a Mexican fishery

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© 2019 Elsevier Ltd This paper relates how fishermen in San Evaristo on Mexico's Baja peninsula employ fabrications to strengthen bonds of trust and navigate the complexities of common pool resource extraction. We argue this trickery complicates notions of social capital in community-based natural resource management, which emphasize communitarianism in the form of trust. Trust, defined as a mutual dependability often rooted in honesty, reliable information, or shared expectations, has long been recognized as essential to common pool resource management. Despite this, research that takes a critical approach to social capital places attention on the activities that foster social networks and their norms by arguing that social capital is a process. A critical approach illuminates San Evaristeño practices of lying and joking across social settings and contextualizes these practices within cultural values of harmony. As San Evaristeños assert somewhat paradoxically, for them “lies build trust.” Importantly, a critical approach to this case study forces consideration of gender, an overlooked topic in social capital research. San Evaristeña women are excluded from the verbal jousting through which men maintain ties supporting their primacy in fishery management. Both men's joke-telling and San Evaristeños’ aversion to conflict have implications for conservation outcomes. As a result, we use these findings to help explain local resistance to outsiders and external management strategies including land trusts, fishing cooperatives, and marine protected areas.





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Siegelman, B, N Haenn and X Basurto (2019). “Lies build trust”: Social capital, masculinity, and community-based resource management in a Mexican fishery. World Development, 123. pp. 104601–104601. 10.1016/j.worlddev.2019.05.031 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/20607.

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Xavier Basurto

Truman and Nellie Semans/Alex Brown & Sons Associate Professor

I am interested in the fundamental question of how groups (human and non-human) can find ways to self-organize, cooperate, and engage in successful collective action for the benefit of the common good. To do this I strive to understand how the institutions (formal and informal rules and norms) that govern social behavior, interplay with biophysical variables to shape social-ecological systems. What kind of institutions are better able to govern complex-adaptive systems? and how can societies (large and small) develop robust institutions that provide enough flexibility for collective learning and adaptation over the long-term?

My academic and professional training is based on a deep conviction that it is through integrating different disciplinary perspectives and methods that we will be able to find solutions to challenging dilemmas in natural resources management, conservation, and environmental policy. Trained as a marine biologist, I completed a M.S in natural resources studying small-scale fisheries in the Gulf of California, Mexico. Realizing the need to bring social science theories into my work on common-pool resources sustainability, I earned an MPA and a Ph.D. in Management (with a minor in cultural anthropology) from the University of Arizona and under the supervision of Edella Schlager. Following I spent two years working with Elinor Ostrom, 2009 co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, at the Workshop for Political Theory and Policy Analysis of Indiana University. Methodologically, I am familiar with a variety of quantitative and qualitative approaches and formally trained to conduct Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA or more recently fsQCA), that allows among other things, systematic comparisons of middle range N sample sizes and address issues of multiple-causality.

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