Social capital is a form of economic and cultural capital in which
social networks are central; transactions are marked by reciprocity,
trust, and cooperation; and market agents produce goods and services
not mainly for themselves, but for a common good.
The term generally refers to (a) resources, and the value of these
resources, both tangible (public spaces, private property) and
intangible ("actors", "human capital", people), (b) the relationships
among these resources, and (c) the impact that these relationships
have on the resources involved in each relationship, and on larger
groups. It is generally seen as a form of capital that produces public
goods for a common good.
Social capital has been used to explain the improved performance of
diverse groups, the growth of entrepreneurial firms, superior
managerial performance, enhanced supply chain relations, the value
derived from strategic alliances, and the evolution of communities.
During the 1990s and 2000s the concept has become increasingly popular
in a wide range of social science disciplines and also in
3 Definitions, forms, and measurement
4.1 A new name from an old idea
4.2 Definitional issues
4.4.1 Name generators
Social capital scales
4.4.3 Cohesion measures
4.4.4 Other assorted measurement and social capital findings
5 Integrating history and socio-economic analysis
5.1 Beyond Putnam
5.2 The sleeping social capital theory
Social capital motives
6 Relationship with neoliberalism
7 Relation with civil society
8 Women's engagement with politics
9 Effects on health
10 Effects of the Internet
11 Effects on educational achievement
12 In geography
13 In leisure studies
14 Negative social capital
14.1 Reproduction of inequality
15 See also
17 Further reading
18 External links
The term social capital was in intermittent use from about 1890,
before becoming widely used in the late 1990s.
In the first half of the 19th century,
Alexis de Tocqueville
Alexis de Tocqueville had
observations about American life that seemed to outline and define
social capital. He observed that Americans were prone to meeting at as
many gatherings as possible to discuss all possible issues of state,
economics, or the world that could be witnessed. The high levels of
transparency caused greater participation from the people and thus
allowed for democracy to work better. The French writer highlighted
also that the level of social participation (social capital) in
American society was directly linked to the equality of conditions
(Ferragina, 2010; 2012; 2013).
L. J. Hanifan's 1916 article regarding local support for rural schools
is one of the first occurrences of the term social capital in
reference to social cohesion and personal investment in the
community. In defining the concept, Hanifan contrasts social
capital with material goods by defining it as:
I do not refer to real estate, or to personal property or to cold
cash, but rather to that in life which tends to make these tangible
substances count for most in the daily lives of people, namely,
goodwill, fellowship, mutual sympathy and social intercourse among a
group of individuals and families who make up a social unit… If he
may come into contact with his neighbour, and they with other
neighbours, there will be an accumulation of social capital, which may
immediately satisfy his social needs and which may bear a social
potentiality sufficient to the substantial improvement of living
conditions in the whole community. The community as a whole will
benefit by the cooperation of all its parts, while the individual will
find in his associations the advantages of the help, the sympathy, and
the fellowship of his neighbours (pp. 130-131).
John Dewey used the term in his monograph entitled "School and
Society" in 1900, but he offered no definition of it.
Jane Jacobs used the term early in the 1960s. Although she did not
explicitly define the term social capital, her usage referred to the
value of networks. Political scientist Robert Salisbury advanced
the term as a critical component of interest group formation in his
1969 article "An Exchange Theory of Interest Groups" in the Midwest
Journal of Political Science. Sociologist
Pierre Bourdieu used the
term in 1972 in his Outline of a Theory of Practice, and clarified
the term some years later in contrast to cultural, economic, and
symbolic capital. Sociologists James Coleman, and
Barry Wellman &
Scot Wortley adopted Glenn Loury's 1977 definition in developing and
popularising the concept. In the late 1990s the concept gained
popularity, serving as the focus of a
World Bank research programme
and the subject of several mainstream books, including Robert Putnam's
Bowling Alone and Putnam and Lewis Feldstein's Better Together.
The concept that underlies social capital has a much longer history;
thinkers exploring the relation between associational life and
democracy were using similar concepts regularly by the 19th century,
drawing on the work of earlier writers such as
James Madison (The
Federalist Papers) and
Alexis de Tocqueville
Alexis de Tocqueville (
Democracy in America) to
integrate concepts of social cohesion and connectedness into the
pluralist tradition in American political science.
John Dewey may have
made the first direct mainstream use of social capital in The School
and Society in 1899, though he did not offer a definition.
The power of community governance has been stressed by many
philosophers from antiquity to the 18th century, from
Thomas Aquinas and
Edmund Burke (Bowles and Gintis, 2002). This
vision was strongly criticised at the end of the 18th century, with
the development of the idea of Homo Economicus and subsequently with
rational choice theory. Such a set of theories became dominant in the
last centuries, but many thinkers questioned the complicated
relationship between modern society and the importance of old
institutions, in particular family and traditional communities
(Ferragina, 2010:75). The debate of community versus modernization
of society and individualism has been the most discussed topic among
the founders of sociology (Tönnies, 1887; Durkheim, 1893;
Simmel, 1905; Weber, 1946). They were convinced that
industrialisation and urbanization were transforming social
relationships in an irreversible way. They observed a breakdown of
traditional bonds and the progressive development of anomie and
alienation in society (Wilmott, 1986).
After Tönnies' and Weber's works, reflection on social links in
modern society continued with interesting contributions in the 1950s
and in the 1960s, in particular mass society theory (Bell, 1962;
Nisbet, 1969; Stein, 1960; Whyte, 1956). They proposed
themes similar to those of the founders, with a more pessimistic
emphasis on the development of society (Ferragina, 2010: 76). In the
words of Stein (1960:1): "The price for maintaining a society that
encourages cultural differentiation and experimentation is
unquestionably the acceptance of a certain amount of disorganization
on both the individual and social level." All these reflections
contributed remarkably to the development of the social capital
concept in the following decades.
The appearance of the modern social capital conceptualization is a new
way to look at this debate, keeping together the importance of
community to build generalized trust and the same time, the importance
of individual free choice, in order to create a more cohesive society
(Ferragina, 2010; Ferragina, 2012). It is for this reason that
social capital generated so much interest in the academic and
political world (Rose, 2000).
Pierre Bourdieu's work tends to show how social capital can be used
practically to produce or reproduce inequality, demonstrating for
instance how people gain access to powerful positions through the
direct and indirect employment of social connections. Robert Putnam
has used the concept in a much more positive light: though he was at
first careful to argue that social capital was a neutral term, stating
"whether or not [the] shared are praiseworthy is, of course, entirely
another matter", his work on American society tends to frame
social capital as a producer of "civic engagement" and also a broad
societal measure of communal health. He also transforms social
capital from a resource possessed by individuals to an attribute of
collectives, focusing on norms and trust as producers of social
capital to the exclusion of networks.
Mahyar Arefi identifies consensus building as a direct positive
indicator of social capital.
Consensus implies "shared interest" and
agreement among various actors and stakeholders to induce collective
action. Collective action is thus an indicator of increased social
Edwards and Foley, as editors of a special edition of the American
Behavioural Scientist on "Social Capital, Civil Society and
Contemporary Democracy", raised two key issues in the study of social
capital. First, social capital is not equally available to all, in
much the same way that other forms of capital are differently
available. Geographic and social isolation limit access to this
resource. Second, not all social capital is created equally. The value
of a specific source of social capital depends in no small part on the
socio-economic position of the source with society. On top of this,
Portes has identified four negative consequences of social capital:
exclusion of outsiders; excess claims on group members; restrictions
on individual freedom; and downward levelling norms.
Varshney studied the correlation between the presence of
interethnic networks (bridging) versus intra-ethnic ones (bonding) on
ethnic violence in India. He argues that interethnic networks are
agents of peace because they build bridges and manage tensions, by
noting that if communities are organized only along intra-ethnic lines
and the interconnections with other communities are very weak or even
nonexistent, then ethnic violence is quite likely. Three main
implications of intercommunal ties explain their worth:
Facilitate communication in the community across ethnic lines
Squelch false rumors
Help the administration carry out its job and in particular peace,
security and justice
This is a useful distinction; nevertheless its implication on social
capital can only be accepted if one espouses the functionalist
understanding of the latter concept. Indeed, it can be argued that
interethnic, as well as intra-ethnic networks can serve various
purposes, either increasing or diminishing social capital. In fact,
Varshney himself notes that intraethnic policing (equivalent to the
"self-policing" mechanism proposed by Fearon and Laitin) may lead
to the same result as interethnic engagement.
Social capital is often linked to the success of democracy and
political involvement. Robert D. Putnam, in his book Bowling Alone
makes the argument that social capital is linked to the recent decline
in American political participation. Putnam's theoretical
framework has been firstly applied to the South of Italy (Putnam,
1993). This framework has been rediscussed by considering
simultaneously the condition of European regions and specifically
Southern Italy (Ferragina, 2012; Ferragina, 2013).
Definitions, forms, and measurement
Social capital has multiple definitions, interpretations, and uses.
Thomas Sander defines it as "the collective value of all social
networks (who people know), and the inclinations that arise from these
networks to do things for each other (norms of reciprocity)." Social
capital, in this view, emphasizes "specific benefits that flow from
the trust, reciprocity, information, and cooperation associated with
social networks". It "creates value for the people who are connected,
and for bystanders as well." Meanwhile, negative norms of
reciprocity serve as disincentives for detrimental and violent
David Halpern argues that the popularity of social capital for
policymakers is linked to the concept's duality, coming because "it
has a hard nosed economic feel while restating the importance of the
social." For researchers, the term is popular partly due to the broad
range of outcomes it can explain; the multiplicity of uses for
social capital has led to a multiplicity of definitions. Social
capital has been used at various times to explain superior managerial
performance, the growth of entrepreneurial firms, improved
performance of functionally diverse groups, the value derived from
strategic alliances, and enhanced supply chain relations. 'A
resource that actors derive from specific social structures and then
use to pursue their interests; it is created by changes in the
relationship among actors'; (Baker 1990, p. 619).
Early attempts to define social capital focused on the degree to which
social capital as a resource should be used for public good or for the
benefit of individuals. Putnam suggested that social capital would
facilitate co-operation and mutually supportive relations in
communities and nations and would therefore be a valuable means of
combating many of the social disorders inherent in modern societies,
for example crime. In contrast to those focusing on the individual
benefit derived from the web of social relationships and ties
individual actors find themselves in, attribute social capital to
increased personal access to information and skill sets and enhanced
power. According to this view, individuals could use social
capital to further their own career prospects, rather than for the
good of organisations.
In The Forms of Capital
Pierre Bourdieu distinguishes between
three forms of capital: economic capital, cultural capital and social
capital. He defines social capital as "the aggregate of the actual or
potential resources which are linked to possession of a durable
network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual
acquaintance and recognition." His treatment of the concept is
instrumental, focusing on the advantages to possessors of social
capital and the "deliberate construction of sociability for the
purpose of creating this resource." Quite contrary to Putnam's
positive view of social capital, Bourdieu employs the concept to
demonstrate a mechanism for the generational reproduction of
inequality. Bourdieu thus points out that the wealthy and powerful use
their "old boys network" or other social capital to maintain
advantages for themselves, their social class, and their children.
James Coleman defined social capital functionally as "a variety of
entities with two elements in common: they all consist of some aspect
of social structure, and they facilitate certain actions of
actors...within the structure"—that is, social capital is
anything that facilitates individual or collective action, generated
by networks of relationships, reciprocity, trust, and social
norms. In Coleman's conception, social capital is a neutral
resource that facilitates any manner of action, but whether society is
better off as a result depends entirely on the individual uses to
which it is put.
According to Robert Putnam, social capital "connections among
individuals – social networks and the norms of reciprocity and
trustworthiness that arise from them." According to Putnam and his
followers, social capital is a key component to building and
maintaining democracy. Putnam says that social capital is declining in
the United States. This is seen in lower levels of trust in government
and lower levels of civic participation. Putnam also says that
television and urban sprawl have had a significant role in making
America far less 'connected'. Putnam believes that social capital can
be measured by the amount of trust and "reciprocity" in a community or
between individuals.
Putnam also suggests that a root cause of the decline in social
capital is women's entry the workforce, which could correlate with
time restraints that inhibit civic organizational involvement like
parent-teacher associations. Technological transformation of
leisure (e.g., television) is another cause of declining social
capital, as stated by Putnam. This offered a reference point from
which several studies assessed social capital measurements by how
media is engaged strategically to build social capital.
Nan Lin's concept of social capital has a more individualistic
approach: "Investment in social relations with expected returns in the
marketplace." This may subsume the concepts of some others such as
Bourdieu, Flap and Eriksson.
Newton (1997) considered social capital as subjective
phenomenon formed by values and attitudes which influence
In “Social capital, civil society, and development,” political
Francis Fukuyama defines social capital as generally
understood rules than enable people to cooperate such as the norm of
reciprocity or religious doctrine like Christianity.
Social capital is
formed by repeated interactions over time and he argues is critical
for development and difficult to generate through public policy. The
importance of social capital for economic development is that these
norms of behavior reduce transaction cost of exchange such as legal
contracts and government regulations. Fukuyama suggests that while
social capital is beneficial for development, it also imposes cost on
non-group members with unintended consequences for general welfare.
Alexis de Tocqueville
Alexis de Tocqueville in
Democracy in America, and what he
described as the ‘art of association’ of Americans’ propensity
for civil association, Fukuyama argues social capital is what produces
a civil society. While civic engagement is an important part of
democracy and development, Fukuyama states that, “one person’s
civic engagement is another’s rent-seeking.” Therefore, while
social capital can facilitate economic development by reducing
transaction cost and increasing productivity, social capital can also
distort democracy if civic association enables special interest to
gain special favors. However, Fukuyama argues despite the risk of
society having too much social capital, it is nonetheless worse to
have too little and be unable to organize for public goods and welfare
Nahapiet and Ghoshal in their examination of the role of social
capital in the creation of intellectual capital, suggest that social
capital should be considered in terms of three clusters: structural,
relational, and cognitive. Carlos García Timón describes that
the structural dimensions of social capital relate to an individual
ability to make weak and strong ties to others within a system. This
dimension focuses on the advantages derived from the configuration of
an actor's, either individual or collective, network.
The differences between weak and strong ties are explained by
Granovetter. The relational dimension focuses on the character of
the connection between individuals. This is best characterized through
trust of others and their cooperation and the identification an
individual has within a network. Hazleton and Kennan added a third
angle, that of communication. Communication is needed to access and
use social capital through exchanging information, identifying
problems and solutions, and managing conflict. According to Boisot
and Boland and Tenkasi, meaningful communication requires at least
some sharing context between the parties to such exchange. The
cognitive dimension focuses on the shared meaning and understanding
that individuals or groups have with one another.
A number of scholars have raised concerns about lack of precise
definition of social capital. Portes, for example, noted that the term
has become so widely used, including in mainstream media, that "the
point is approaching at which social capital comes to be applied to so
many events and in so many different contexts as to lose any distinct
meaning." Robison, Schmid, and Siles reviewed various
definitions of social capital and concluded that many did not satisfy
the formal requirement of a definition. They noted that definitions
must be of the form A=B while many definition of social capital
described what it can be used to achieve, where it resides, how it can
be created, and what it can transform. In addition, they argue that
many proposed definition of social capital fail to satisfy the
requirements of capital. They propose that social capital be defined
as "sympathy". The object of another's sympathy has social capital.
Those who have sympathy for others provide social capital. One of the
main advantages of having social capital is that it provides access to
resources on preferential terms. Their definition of sympathy follows
that used by Adam Smith, the title of his first chapter in the "Theory
of Moral Sentiments."
A network-based conception can also be used for characterizing the
social capital of collectivities (such as organizations or business
clusters). Lester (name change to Amber Persons) noted that
negative social capital may be the cause for disadvantageous
differences among minority firms versus majority firms. While studying
norms among African-American family firms and Euro-American family
firms, Lester noted that negative social capital was created when the
owner of the company was pressured to engage in social behavior not
conducive to firm profits.
A new name from an old idea
The modern emergence of social capital concept renewed the academic
interest for an old debate in social science: the relationship between
trust, social networks and the development of modern industrial
society. Social Capital Theory gained importance through the
integration of classical sociological theory with the description of
an intangible form of capital. In this way the classical definition of
capital has been overcome allowing researchers to tackle issues in a
new manner (Ferragina, 2010:73). Through the social capital concept
researchers have tried to propose a synthesis between the value
contained in the communitarian approaches and individualism professed
by the 'rational choice theory.'
Social capital can only be generated
collectively thanks to the presence of communities and social
networks, but individuals and groups can use it at the same time.
Individuals can exploit social capital of their networks to achieve
private objectives and groups can use it to enforce a certain set of
norms or behaviors. In this sense, social capital is generated
collectively but it can also be used individually, bridging the
dichotomized approach 'communitarianism' versus 'individualism'
The term capital is used by analogy with other forms of economic
capital, as social capital is argued to have similar (although less
measurable) benefits. However, the analogy with capital is misleading
to the extent that, unlike traditional forms of capital, social
capital is not depleted by use; in fact it is depleted by non-use
(use it or lose it). In this respect, it is similar to the now
well-established economic concept of human capital.
Social capital is also distinguished from the economic theory social
Social capitalism as a theory challenges the idea that
socialism and capitalism are mutually exclusive. Social capitalism
posits that a strong social support network for the poor enhances
capital output. By decreasing poverty, capital market participation is
In Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community
(Putnam, 2000), Harvard political scientist
Robert D. Putnam
Robert D. Putnam wrote:
"Henry Ward Beecher's advice a century ago to 'multiply picnics' is
not entirely ridiculous today. We should do this, ironically, not
because it will be good for America — though it will be — but
because it will be good for us."
Daniel P. Aldrich, Associate Professor at Purdue University, describes
three mechanisms of social capital. Aldrich defines the three
differences as bonding, bridging, and linking social capital. Bonding
capital are the relationships a person has with friends and family,
making it also the strongest form of social capital. Bridging capital
is the relationship between friends of friends, making its strength
secondary to bonding capital. Linking capital is the relationship
between a person and a government official or other elected leader.
Aldrich also applies the ideas of social capital to the fundamental
principles of disaster recovery, and discusses factors that either aid
or impede recovery, such as extent of damage, population density,
quality of government and aid. He primarily examines Japanese recovery
following the 2011 Fukishima nuclear meltdown in his book "Building
Resilience: Social Capital in Post-Disaster Recovery."[citation
Putnam speaks of two main components of the concept: bonding social
capital and bridging social capital, the creation of which Putnam
credits to Ross Gittell and Avis Vidal. Bonding refers to the value
assigned to social networks between homogeneous groups of people and
Bridging refers to that of social networks between socially
heterogeneous groups. Typical examples are that criminal gangs create
bonding social capital, while choirs and bowling clubs (hence the
title, as Putnam lamented their decline) create bridging social
The distinction is useful in highlighting how social capital may not
always be beneficial for society as a whole (though it is always an
asset for those individuals and groups involved). Horizontal networks
of individual citizens and groups that enhance community productivity
and cohesion are said to be positive social capital assets whereas
self-serving exclusive gangs and hierarchical patronage systems that
operate at cross purposes to societal interests can be thought of as
negative social capital burdens on society.
Social capital development on the internet via social networking
websites such as
Myspace tends to be bridging capital
according to one study, though "virtual" social capital is a new area
There are two other sub-sources of social capital. These are
consummatory, or a behavior that is made up of actions that fulfill a
basis of doing what is inherent, and instrumental, or behavior that is
taught through ones surroundings over time.
Two examples of consummatory social capital are value interjection and
solidarity. Value interjection pertains to a person or community that
fulfills obligations such as paying bills on time, philanthropy, and
following the rules of society. People that live their life this way
feel that these are norms of society and are able to live their lives
free of worry for their credit, children, and receive charity if
needed. Coleman goes on to say that when people live in this way and
benefit from this type of social capital, individuals in the society
are able to rest assured that their belongings and family will be
safe. This understanding of solidarity may be traced to 19th
century socialist thinkers. The main focus of these thinkers was the
urban working class of the Industrial Revolution. They analyzed the
reasons these workers supported each other for the benefit of the
group and held that this support was an adaptation to the immediate
social environment, as opposed to a trait that had been taught to the
workers in their youth. As another example, Coleman states that
possessing this type of social capital individuals to stand up for
what they believe in, and even die for it, in the face of
adversity. (While the notion of solidarity as social capital is
sometimes attributed to Karl Marx, in particular, the term "social
capital" had a quite different meaning for Marx. All forms of
"capital" were, for Marx, possessed only by capitalists and he
emphasied the basis of labour in capitalist society, as a class
constituted by individuals obliged to sell their labour power, because
they lacked sufficient capital, in any sense of the word, to do
otherwise. Marx saw "social capital" as a theoretical total amount of
capital, purely in the sense of accumulated wealth or property, that
existed within in a particular society. He thereby contrasted it with
specific and discrete "individual capital".)
The second of these two other sub-sources of social capital is that of
instrumental social capital. The basis of the category of social
capital is that an individual who donates his or her resources not
because he is seeking direct repayment from the recipient, but because
they are part of the same social structure. By his or her donation,
the individual might not see a direct repayment, but, most commonly,
they will be held by the society in greater honor. The best
example of this, and the one that Portes mentions, is the donation of
a scholarship to a member of the same ethnic group. The donor is not
freely giving up his resources to be directly repaid by the recipient,
but, as stated above, the honor of the community. With this in mind,
the recipient might not know the benefactor personally, but he or she
prospers on the sole factor that he or she is a member of the same
Social capital is also linked with religious communities. Religion
represents important aspect of social capital (religious social
There is no widely held consensus on how to measure social capital,
which has become a debate in itself. Why refer to this phenomenon
as 'capital' if there is no true way to measure it? While one can
usually intuitively sense the level/amount of social capital present
in a given relationship(regardless of type or scale),
quantitative measuring has proven somewhat complicated. This has
resulted in different metrics for different functions.
One type of quantitative social capital measure uses name generators
to construct social networks and to measure the level of social
capital. These networks are constructed by asking participants to name
people that they interact with, such as "Name all the people you've
discussed important matters within the past six months."  Name
generators are often useful to construct core discussion networks of
close ties, rather than weaker ties.
Social capital scales
Many studies measure social capital by asking the question: "do you
trust the others?" Other researches analyse the participation in
voluntary associations or civic activities.
To expand upon the methodological potential of measuring online and
offline social bonding, as it relates to social capital, offers a
matrix of social capital measures that distinguishes social bridging
as a form of less emotionally tethered relationships compared to
bonding. Bonding and bridging sub-scales are proposed, which have been
adopted by over 300 scholarly articles. Lin, Peng, Kim, Kim &
LaRose (2012) offer a noteworthy application of the scale by measuring
international residents originating from locations outside of the
United States. The study found that social media platforms like
Facebook provide an opportunity for increased social capital, but
mostly for extroverts. However, less introverted social media users
could engage social media and build social capital by connecting with
Americans before arriving and then maintaining old relationships from
home upon arriving to the states. The ultimate outcome of the study
indicates that social capital is measurable and is a concept that may
be operationalized to understand strategies for coping with
cross-cultural immersion through online engagement.
The level of cohesion of a group also affects its social capital and
vica versa. However, there is no one quantitative way of
determining the level of cohesiveness, but rather a collection of
social network models that researchers have used over the decades to
operationalize social capital. One of the dominant methods is Ronald
Burt's constraint measure, which taps into the role of tie strength
and group cohesion. Another network-based model is network
Other assorted measurement and social capital findings
In measuring political social capital, it is common to take the sum of
society's membership of its groups. Groups with higher membership
(such as political parties) contribute more to the amount of capital
than groups with lower membership, although many groups with low
membership (such as communities) still add up to be significant. While
it may seem that this is limited by population, this need not be the
case as people join multiple groups. In a study done by Yankee
City, a community of 17,000 people was found to have over 22,000
Knack and Keefer (1996) measured econometrically correlations between
confidence and civic cooperation norms, with economic growth in a big
group of countries. They found that confidence and civic cooperation
have a great impact in economic growth, and that in less polarized
societies in terms of inequality and ethnic differences, social
capital is bigger.
Narayan and Pritchet (1997) researched the associativity degree and
economic performance in rural homes of Tanzania. They saw that even in
high poverty indexes, families with higher levels of incomes had more
participation in collective organizations. The social capital they
accumulated because of this participation had individual benefits for
them, and created collective benefits through different routes, for
example: their agricultural practices were better than those of the
families without participation (they had more information about
agrochemicals, fertilizers and seeds); they had more information about
the market; they were prepared to take more risks, because being part
of a social network made them feel more protected; they had an
influence on the improvement of public services, showing a bigger
level of participation in schools; they cooperated more in the
How a group relates to the rest of society also affects social
capital, but in a different manner. Strong internal ties can in some
cases weaken the group's perceived capital in the eyes of the general
public, as in cases where the group is geared towards crime, distrust,
intolerance, violence or hatred towards others. The
Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan is an
example of this kind of organizations.
Carl L. Bankston and
Min Zhou have argued that one of the
reasons social capital is so difficult to measure is that it is
neither an individual-level nor a group-level phenomenon, but one that
emerges across levels of analysis as individuals participate in
groups. They argue that the metaphor of "capital" may be misleading
because unlike financial capital, which is a resource held by an
individual, the benefits of forms of social organization are not held
by actors, but are results of the participation of actors in
advantageously organized groups.
Recently, Foschi and Lauriola presented a measure of sociability as a
proxy of social capital. The authors demonstrated that facets of
sociability can mediate between general personality traits and
measures of civic involvement and political participation, as
predictors of social capital, in a holistic model of political
Integrating history and socio-economic analysis
Robert Putnam's work contributed to shape the discussion of the
importance of social capital. His conclusions have been praised but
also criticized. Criticism has mainly focused on:
the lack of awareness of the structural socio-economic conditions of
society (see Skocpol 1996; Skocpol et al. 2000; Thomson
2005). as for example, the level of income inequality (Knack and
Keefer 1997; Costa and Kahn 2003; O'Connel 2003; Ferragina
the excessive determinism of the historical analysis (Lupo 1993;
Lemann 1996; Tarrow 1996).
Putnam's social capital index does not consider racial diversity which
links to worse outcomes (Hero 2007).
the conflation of social capital with civil society, the lack of
empirical evidence connecting social capital's promotion of economic
growth and substantiating the decline of social capital in the United
States in the last 35 years, and the assumption that social networks
produce win-win relationships (Defilippis 2001).
Ferragina (2012; 2013) integrated the insights of these two
criticisms and proposed a cross-regional analysis of 85 European
regions, linking together the socio-economic and the historic-
institutional analyses to explore the determinants of social capital.
He argued that to investigate the determinants of social capital, one
has to integrate the synchronic and the diachronic perspectives under
the guidance of a methodological framework able to put these two
approaches in continuity.
The sleeping social capital theory
Putnam's work, nourished by doctrines like the end of history
(Fukuyama 1992) was largely deterministic, and proposed the
dismissal of more articulated historical interpretations. This
determinism has reduced Southern Italian history as being a negative
path to modernity; only the Italian regions that experienced the
development of medieval towns during the twelfth and thirteenth
centuries have got high levels of social capital today, the others
'are condemned' by the prevalence of the authoritarian rule of the
Normans more than 800 years ago.
However, from a purely historical perspective, the medieval town is
not unanimously considered to be a symbol of freedom, creation of
horizontal ties and embryo of democratic life. In Making Democracy
Work, Putnam disregarded the division within municipal towns and their
dearth of civic participation and considered only the experience of
few areas in North Central Italy, ignoring the existence of important
towns in the South.
To this more complicated historical picture, Ferragina (2012)
added the result of a regression model, which indicated that social
capital in the South of Italy and Wallonia should be much lower than
currently detected according to their socio-economic condition. He
unfolded Putnam's theory by undertaking a comparative analysis between
these two deviant cases and two regular cases located in the same
country, namely Flanders and the North of Italy. The historical legacy
does not have a negative effect on the present lack of social capital
in Wallonia and the South of Italy, but the potentially positive
effect of the historical legacy is currently curtailed by the poor
socio-economic conditions, notably by the high level of income
inequality and the low level of labour market participation. This
historical interpretation is driven by the comparison with Flanders
and the North East of Italy.
The value of the historical legacy for present socio-economic
development is similar to the 'appropriable social capital' theorized
by Coleman (1990) at the individual level. Using the example
of the Korean students, Coleman argued that the construction of a
secret network of people (at a time in which the appreciation for the
authoritarian government was rapidly declining among the population)
as a means of organizing the democratic revolt was the result of a
process of socialization that took place during their childhood (with
the involvement in the local churches).
The relation between historical evolutions and the socio-economic
variables has similar characteristics at the macro level. Only
after reaching a sufficient level of labour market activity and income
redistribution (this is comparable to the growing unpopularity of the
authoritarian government) can the memory of historical events of
social engagement become fully appropriable by the population (this is
comparable to the participation in the local churches during
childhood), leading to the development of innovative forms of social
participation (this is comparable to the construction of the secret
circles that enhanced the democratic revolt). This process increases
social capital even further if socio-economic development is matched
by the revival of the unique historical legacy of the area. The
reconstruction of this unique past can rapidly become a source of
pride for the entire area, contributing in turn to an increasing
intra-regional solidarity, and with it enhancement of social networks
and social trust.
The Flemish case (and also to a lesser extent that of the North East
of Italy) illustrates this process well. The socio-economic
improvements that took place in the nineteenth century were matched by
the revival of the glorious Flemish traditions of the thirteenth and
fourteenth century. The increase of social capital generated by the
reduction of income inequality and the increasing participation in the
labour market due to the economic development was multiplied by the
reconstruction of Flemish identity and pride. This pride and
self-confidence has, in turn, increased the feeling of solidarity
within the region and contributed to generate a level of social
capital, which is hardly explicable by the single socio-economic
Ferragina suggests that, in the divergent cases, the value of the
historical legacy is affected by the poor present socio-economic
Social capital sleeps, not because of the absence of
certain clearly defined historical steps as suggested by Putnam, but
because socio-economic underdevelopment profoundly depressed the
self-pride of Southern Italians and Walloons.
The biased and simplistic interpretations of Southern Italian and
Walloon history will be discarded only when their socio-economic
conditions reach a sufficient level, enacting a cycle similar to
Flanders and the North East of Italy. Stronger redistribution, an
increase of labour market participation accompanied by a simultaneous
process of 'reinvention of the past' could enhance a positive cycle of
social capital increase in both areas. The historical legacy in these
two areas should not be seen as the root of the present lack of social
capital but as a potential element for improvement. Important moments
of social engagement also existed in the history of these two areas;
the imagery of Walloons and Southern Italians should be nourished by
these almost forgotten examples of collective history (i.e. the Fasci
Siciliani in the south of Italy) rather than the prevailing idea that
the historical legacy of these areas is simply an original sin, a
burden to carry through the process of modernization.
Social capital motives
Robison and colleagues measured the relative importance of selfishness
and four social capital motives using resource allocation data
collected in hypothetical surveys and non-hypothetical experiments.
The selfishness motive assumes that an agent's allocation of a scarce
resource is independent of his relationships with others. This motive
is sometimes referred to as the selfishness of preference assumption
in neoclassical economics.
Social capital motives assume that agents'
allocation of a scarce resource may be influenced by their social
capital or sympathetic relationships with others which may produce
socio-emotional goods that satisfy socio-emotional needs for
validation and belonging. The first social capital motive seeks for
validation by acting consistently with the values of one's ideal self.
The second social capital motive seeks to be validated by others by
winning their approval. The third social capital motive seeks to
belong. Recognizing that one may not be able to influence the sympathy
of others, persons seeking to belong may act to increase their own
sympathy for others and the organizations or institutions they
represent. The fourth social capital motive recognizes that our
sympathy or social capital for another person will motivate us to act
in their interest. In doing so we satisfy our own needs for validation
and belonging. Empirical results reject the hypothesis often implied
in economics that we are 95% selfish.
Relationship with neoliberalism
The social capital concept has influenced academic literature and
public debate through the specter of social disintegration: would
anybody disagree with the fact that we need healthy communities and
civic engagement to protect our democracies? Ferragina and Arrigoni
have argued that the popularity of this theory is rooted in the
connection made with neoliberalism by James Coleman (1990) and Robert
Putnam (1993). They contend that social capital theory has become an
analytical tool to avoid the debate on the effects of neoliberal
policies on civic engagement (Ferragina and Arrigoni 2016: 9).
More specifically, by elaborating the most popular version of social
capital theory, Putnam (1993) revitalised Tocqueville's seminal work
on American democracy, showing that 'the health of liberal democracy'
depends upon social engagement. However, in linking social capital,
neoliberalism, and rational choice theory, Putnam did not consider
that the intensity of social engagement in a society tends to be
strictly related to the level of economic inequality (Ferragina, 2010,
2012) and other structural factors (Costa and Kahn, 2003), such as the
universal nature of the welfare state (Rothstein, 2008). Hence, by
arguing that the disadvantaged need more social capital to insure
themselves against the odds of a competitive world, Putnam implicitly
suggests that being powerless is a result of not having enough capital
rather than a structural problem of society (Ferragina and Arrigoni
However, in a period during which neoliberal governance is showing
many drawbacks and the marked incapacity to deliver economic growth
(Piketty, 2014), it is possible that to strengthen secondary groups
and social engagement, more equality and greater levels of solidarity
are needed (as classically argued by Tocqueville, see Ferragina,
There is a tension between the individualisation of social risks
pursued by several political parties and the call to create social
capital: it is becoming harder to blame the individual for collective
problems. Prior to the start of the economic crisis in 2008, the
tension between rising economic inequality and the demand to
strengthen civic engagement was undermined by neoliberalism's capacity
to sustain a certain level of economic growth. One might claim this
capacity contributed to a transposition of social capital theory
within public discourse. The limitations of finance as the central
engine of economic growth, the material hardships fostered by the
crisis, and the austerity measures implemented by governments in
response to these challenges are critically undermining the legitimacy
of neoliberal policies (Ferragina and Arrigoni 2016: 10).
Relation with civil society
A number of authors give definitions of civil society
that refer to voluntary associations and organisations outside the
market and state. This definition is very close to that of the third
sector, which consists of "private organisations that are formed and
sustained by groups of people acting voluntarily and without seeking
personal profit to provide benefits for themselves or for
others". According to such authors as Walzer,
Alessandrini, Newtown, Stolle and Rochon, Foley and Edwards, and
Walters, it is through civil society, or more accurately, the third
sector, that individuals are able to establish and maintain relational
networks. These voluntary associations also connect people with each
other, build trust and reciprocity through informal, loosely
structured associations, and consolidate society through altruism
without obligation. It is "this range of activities, services and
associations produced by... civil society" that constitutes the
sources of social capital.
If civil society, then, is taken to be synonymous with the third
sector then the question it seems is not 'how important is social
capital to the production of a civil society?' but 'how important is
civil society to the production of social capital?'.[original
research?] Not only have the authors above documented how civil
society produces sources of social capital, but in Lyons work Third
Sector, social capital does not appear in any guise under either
the factors that enable or those that stimulate the growth of the
third sector, and Onyx describes how social capital depends on an
already functioning community.
The idea that creating social capital (i.e., creating networks) will
strengthen civil society underlies current Australian social policy
aimed at bridging deepening social divisions. The goal is to
reintegrate those marginalised from the rewards of the economic system
into "the community". However, according to Onyx (2000), while the
explicit aim of this policy is inclusion, its effects are
Foley and Edwards believe that "political systems... are
important determinants of both the character of civil society and of
the uses to which whatever social capital exists might be put".
Alessandrini agrees, saying, "in Australia in particular,
neo-liberalism has been recast as economic rationalism and identified
by several theorists and commentators as a danger to society at large
because of the use to which they are putting social capital to
The resurgence of interest in social capital as a remedy for the cause
of today's social problems draws directly on the assumption that these
problems lie in the weakening of civil society. However this ignores
the arguments of many theorists who believe that social capital leads
to exclusion rather than to a stronger civil society.
In international development,
Ben Fine and John Harriss have been
heavily critical of the inappropriate adoption of social capital as a
supposed panacea (promoting civil society organisations and NGOs, for
example, as agents of development) for the inequalities generated by
neo liberal economic development. This leads to controversy
as to the role of state institutions in the promotion of social
capital. An abundance of social capital is seen as being almost a
necessary condition for modern liberal democracy. A low level of
social capital leads to an excessively rigid and unresponsive
political system and high levels of corruption, in the political
system and in the region as a whole. Formal public institutions
require social capital in order to function properly, and while it is
possible to have too much social capital (resulting in rapid changes
and excessive regulation), it is decidedly worse to have too little.
Kathleen Dowley and Brian Silver published an article entitled "Social
Capital, Ethnicity and Support for
Democracy in the Post-Communist
States". This article found that in post-communist states, higher
levels of social capital did not equate to higher levels of democracy.
However, higher levels of social capital led to higher support for
A number of intellectuals in developing countries have argued that the
idea of social capital, particularly when connected to certain ideas
about civil society, is deeply implicated in contemporary modes of
donor and NGO driven imperialism and that it functions, primarily, to
blame the poor for their condition.
The concept of social capital in a Chinese social context has been
closely linked with the concept of guanxi.
An interesting attempt to measure social capital spearheaded by
Corporate Alliance in the English speaking market segment of the
United States of America and Xentrum through the Latin American
Chamber of Commerce in Utah on the Spanish speaking population of
the same country, involves the quantity, quality and strength of an
individual social capital. With the assistance of software
applications and web-based relationship-oriented systems such as
LinkedIn, these kinds of organizations are expected to provide its
members with a way to keep track of the number of their relationships,
meetings designed to boost the strength of each relationship using
group dynamics, executive retreats and networking events as well as
training in how to reach out to higher circles of influential people.
Women's engagement with politics
See also: Sex differences in social capital
There are many factors that drive volume towards the ballot box,
including education, employment, civil skills, and time. Careful
evaluation of these fundamental factors often suggests that women do
not vote at similar levels as men. However the gap between women and
men voter turnout is diminishing and in some cases women are becoming
more prevalent at the ballot box than their male counterparts. Recent
research on social capital is now serving as an explanation for
Social capital offers a wealth of resources and networks that
facilitate political engagement. Since social capital is readily
available no matter the type of community, it is able to override more
traditional queues for political engagement; e.g.: education,
employment, civil skills, etc.
There are unique ways in which women organize. These differences from
men make social capital more personable and impressionable to women
audiences thus creating a stronger presence in regards to political
engagement. A few examples of these characteristics are:
Women's informal and formal networks tend toward care work that is
often considered apolitical.
Women are also more likely to engage in local politics and social
movement activities than in traditional forums focused on national
Women are more likely to organize themselves in less hierarchical ways
and to focus on creating consensus.
The often informal nature of female social capital allows women to
politicize apolitical environments without conforming to masculine
standards, thus keeping this activity at a low public profile. These
differences are hard to recognize within the discourse of political
engagement and may explain why social capital has not been considered
as a tool for female political engagement until as of late.
Effects on health
A growing body of research has found that the presence of social
capital through social networks and communities has a protective
quality on health.
Social capital affects health risk behavior in the
sense that individuals who are embedded in a network or community rich
in support, social trust, information, and norms, have resources that
help achieve health goals. For example, a person who is sick with
cancer may receive information, money, or moral support he or she
needs to endure treatment and recover.
Social capital also encourages
social trust and membership. These factors can discourage individuals
from engaging in risky health behaviors such as smoking and binge
drinking. Furthermore, neighbourhood social capital may also aid
in buffering health inequities amongst children and adolescents.
Inversely, a lack of social capital can impair health. For example,
results from a survey given to 13- to 18-year-old students in Sweden
showed that low social capital and low social trust are associated
with higher rates of psychosomatic symptoms, musculoskeletal pain, and
depression. Additionally, negative social capital can detract
from health. Although there are only a few studies that assess social
capital in criminalized populations, there is information that
suggests that social capital does have a negative effect in broken
communities. Deviant behavior is encouraged by deviant peers via
favorable definitions and learning opportunities provided by
network-based norms. However, in these same communities, an
adjustment of norms (i.e. deviant peers being replaced by positive
role models) can pose a positive effect.
Effects of the Internet
Similar to watching the news and keeping abreast of current events,
the use of the Internet can relate to an individual's level of social
capital. In one study, informational uses of the Internet correlated
positively with an individual's production of social capital, and
social-recreational uses were negatively correlated (higher levels of
these uses correlated with lower levels of social capital). An
example supporting the former argument is the contribution of Peter
Maranci's blog (Charlie on the Commuter Line) to address the train
problems in Massachusetts. He created it after an incident where a
lady passed out during a train ride due to the congestion in the train
and help was delayed because of the congestion in the train and the
inefficiency of the train conductor. His blog exposed the poor
conditions of train stations, overcrowding train rides and
inefficiency of the train conductor which eventually influenced
changes within the transit system. Another perspective holds that
the rapid growth of social networking sites such as
Myspace suggests that individuals are creating a virtual-network
consisting of both bonding and bridging social capital. Unlike face to
face interaction, people can instantly connect with others in a
targeted fashion by placing specific parameters with internet use.
This means that individuals can selectively connect with others based
on ascertained interests, and backgrounds.
Facebook is currently the
most popular social networking site and touts many advantages to its
users including serving as a social lubricant for individuals who
otherwise have difficulties forming and maintaining both strong and
weak ties with others.
This argument continues, although the preponderance of evidence shows
a positive association between social capital and the internet.
Critics of virtual communities believe that the Internet replaces our
strong bonds with online "weak-ties" or with socially empty
interactions with the technology itself. Others fear that the
Internet can create a world of "narcissism of similarity," where
sociability is reduced to interactions between those that are similar
in terms of ideology, race, or gender. A few articles suggest
that technologically based interactions has a negative relationship
with social capital by displacing time spent engaging in geographical/
in-person social activities. However, the consensus of research
shows that the more time people spend online the more in-person
contact they have, thus positively enhancing social
Recent research, conducted 2006, also shows that Internet users often
have wider networks than those who uses internet irregularly or not at
all. When not considering family and work contacts, Internet users
actually tend to have contact with a higher number of friends and
relatives. This is supported by another study that shows that
internet users and non-internet users do feel equally close to the
same number of people; also the internet users maintain relationships
with 20% more people that they "feel somewhat close" to.
Other research shows that younger people use the Internet as a
supplemental medium for communication, rather than letting the
Internet communication replace face-to-face contact. This
supports the view that Internet communication does not hinder
development of social capital and does not make people feel lonelier
Ellison, Steinfield & Lampe (2007) suggest social capital
exercised online is a result of relationships formed offline; whereby,
bridging capital is enabled through a "maintenance" of relationships.
Among respondents of this study, social capital built exclusively
online creates weaker ties. A distinction of social bonding is
offered by Ellison et al., 2007, suggesting bonds, or strong ties, are
possible through social media, but less likely.
Effects on educational achievement
Coleman and Hoffer collected quantitative data of 28,000 students in
total 1,015 public, Catholic and other private high schools in America
from the 7 years' period from 1980 to 1987. It was found from
this longitudinal research that social capital in students' families
and communities attributed to the much lower dropout rates in Catholic
schools compared with the higher rates in public.
Teachman et al. further develop the family structure indicator
suggested by Coleman. They criticise Coleman, who used only the number
of parents present in the family, neglected the unseen effect of more
discrete dimensions such as stepparents' and different types of
single-parent families. They take into account of a detailed counting
of family structure, not only with two biological parents or
stepparent families, but also with types of single-parent families
with each other (mother-only, father-only, never-married, and other).
They also contribute to the literature by measuring parent-child
interaction by the indicators of how often parents and children
discuss school-related activities.
Morgan and Sorensen directly challenge Coleman for his lacking of
an explicit mechanism to explain why Catholic schools students perform
better than public school students on standardised tests of
achievement. Researching students in Catholic schools and public
schools again, they propose two comparable models of social capital
effect on mathematic learning. One is on Catholic schools as
norm-enforcing schools whereas another is on public schools as
horizon-expanding schools. It is found that while social capital can
bring about positive effect of maintaining an encompassing functional
community in norm-enforcing schools, it also brings about the negative
consequence of excessive monitoring. Creativity and exceptional
achievement would be repressed as a result. Whereas in horizon
expanding school, social closure is found to be negative for student's
mathematic achievement. These schools explore a different type of
social capital, such as information about opportunities in the
extended social networks of parents and other adults. The consequence
is that more learning is fostered than norm-enforcing Catholic school
students. In sum, Morgan and Sorensen's (1999) study implies that
social capital is contextualised, one kind of social capital may be
positive in this setting but is not necessarily still positive in
In the setting of education through Kilpatrick et al., (2010)
state, '... social capital is a useful lens for analysing lifelong
learning and its relationship to community development'. Social
capital is particularly important in terms of education. Also the
importance of education with '...schools being designed to create
"functioning community"- forging tighter links between parents and the
school' (Coleman & Hoffer, 1987) linking that without this
interaction, the social capital in this area is disadvantaged and
demonstrates that social capital plays a major role in education.
Without social capital in the area of education, teachers and parents
that play a responsibility in a students learning, the significant
impacts on their child's academic learning can rely on these factors.
With focus on parents contributing to their child's academic progress
as well as being influenced by social capital in education. Without
the contribution by the parent in their child's education, gives
parents less opportunity and participation in the student's life. As
Tedin et al. (2010) state '...one of the most important factors
in promoting student success is the active involvement of parents in a
child's education. With parents also involved in activities and
meetings the school conducts, the more involved parents are with other
parents and the staff members. Thus parent involvement contributes to
social capital with becoming more involved in the school community and
participating makes the school a sustainable and easy to run
In their journal article "Beyond social capital: Spatial dynamics of
collective efficacy for children", Sampson et al. stress the
normative or goal-directed dimension of social capital. They claim,
"resources or networks alone (e.g. voluntary associations, friendship
ties, organisational density) are neutral--- they may or may not be
effective mechanism for achieving intended effect"
Marjoribanks and Kwok conducted a survey in
Hong Kong secondary
schools with 387 fourteen-year-old students with an aim to analyse
female and male adolescents differential educational achievement by
using social capital as the main analytic tool. In that research,
social capital is approved of its different effects upon different
genders. In his thesis "New Arrival Students in Hong Kong: Adaptation
and School Performance", Hei Hang Hayes Tang argues that adaptation is
a process of activation and accumulation of (cultural and social)
capitals. The research findings show that supportive networks is the
key determinant differentiating the divergent adaptation pathways.
Supportive networks, as a form of social capital, is necessary for
activating the cultural capital the newly arrived students possessed.
The amount of accumulated capital is also relevant to further
advancement in the ongoing adaptation process.
Min Zhou and Carl L. Bankston in their study of a Vietnamese
community in New Orleans find that preserving traditional ethnic
values enable immigrants to integrate socially and to maintain
solidarity in an ethnic community. Ethnic solidarity is especially
important in the context where immigrants just arrive in the host
society. In her article "Social Capital in Chinatown", Zhou examines
how the process of adaptation of young Chinese Americans is affected
by tangible forms of social relations between the community, immigrant
families, and the younger generations. Chinatown serves as the
basis of social capital that facilitates the accommodation of
immigrant children in the expected directions. Ethnic support provides
impetus to academic success. Furthermore, maintenance of literacy in
native language also provides a form of social capital that
contributes positively to academic achievement. Stanton-Salazar and
Dornbusch found that bilingual students were more likely to
obtain the necessary forms of institutional support to advance their
school performance and their life chances.
Putnam (2000) mentions in his book Bowling Alone, "Child development
is powerfully shaped by social capital" and continues "presence of
social capital has been linked to various positive outcomes,
particularly in education". According to his book, these positive
outcomes are the result of parents' social capital in a community. In
states where there is a high social capital, there is also a high
education performance. The similarity of these states is that
parents were more associated with their children's education. Teachers
have reported that when the parents participate more in their
children's education and school life, it lowers levels of misbehavior,
such as bringing weapons to school, engaging in physical violence,
unauthorized absence, and being generally apathetic about
education. Borrowing Coleman's quotation from Putnam's book,
Coleman once mentioned we cannot understate "the importance of the
embeddedness of young persons in the enclaves of adults most proximate
to them, first and most prominent the family and second, a surrounding
community of adults".
In order to understand social capital as a subject in geography, one
must look at it in a sense of space, place, and territory. In its
relationship, the tenets[who?] of geography relate to the ideas of
social capital in the family, community, and in the use of social
networks. The biggest advocate for seeing social capital as a
geographical subject was American economist and political scientist
Robert Putnam. His main argument for classifying social capital as a
geographical concept is that the relationships of people is shaped and
molded by the areas in which they live.
Putnam (1993) argued that the lack of social capital in the South of
Italy was more the product of a peculiar historical and geographical
development than the consequence of a set of contemporary
socio-economic conditions. This idea has sparked a lengthy debate and
received fierce criticism (Ferragina, 2010; Ferragina 2012:
3). There are many areas in which social capital can be
defined by the theories and practices.
Anthony Giddens developed a
theory in 1984 in which he relates social structures and the actions
that they produce. In his studies, he does not look at the individual
participants of these structures, but how the structures and the
social connections that stem from them are diffused over space.
If this is the case, the continuous change in social structures could
bring about a change in social capital, which can cause changes in
community atmosphere. If an area is plagued by social organizations
whose goals are to revolt against social norms, such as gangs, it can
cause a negative social capital for the area causing those who
disagreed with said organizations to relocate thus taking their
positive social capital to a different space than the negative.
Another area where social capital can be seen as an area of study in
geography is through the analysis of participation in volunteerism and
its support of different governments. One area to look into with this
is through those who participate in social organizations. People that
participate are of different races, ages, and economic status.
With these in mind, variances of the space in which these different
demographics may vary, causing a difference in involvement among
areas. Secondly, there are different social programs for different
areas based on economic situation. A governmental organization
would not place a welfare center in a wealthier neighborhood where it
would have very limited support to the community, as it is not needed.
Thirdly, social capital can be affected by the participation of
individuals of a certain area based on the type of institutions that
are placed there. Mohan supports this with the argument of J. Fox
in his paper "Decentralization and Rural Development in Mexico", which
states "structures of local governance in turn influence the capacity
of grassroots communities to influence social investments." With
this theory, if the involvement of a government in specific areas
raises the involvement of individuals in social organizations and/or
communities, this will in turn raise the social capital for that area.
Since every area is different, the government takes that into
consideration and will provide different areas with different
institutions to fit their needs thus there will be different changes
in social capital in different areas.
In leisure studies
In the context of leisure studies, social capital is seen as the
consequence of investment in and cultivation of social relationships
allowing an individual access to resources that would otherwise be
unavailable to him or her. The concept of social capital in
relation to leisure is grounded in a perspective that emphasizes the
interconnectedness rather than the separateness of human activity and
human goals. There is a significant connection between leisure and
democratic social capital. Specific forms of leisure activity
contribute to the development of the social capital central to
democracy and democratic citizenship. The more an individual
participates in social activities, the more autonomy the individual
experiences, which will help her or his individual abilities and
skills to develop. The greater the accumulation of social capital a
person experiences, may transfer to other leisure activities as well
as personal social roles, relationships and in other roles within a
Negative social capital
It has been noted that social capital may not always be used for
positive ends. While pursuing doctoral studies, Lester was the first
to create figures and equate negative social capital with negative
returns. Before Lester, negative social capital was a societal
ill, not a business one. An example of the complexities of the effects
of negative social capital is violence or criminal gang activity that
is encouraged through the strengthening of intra-group relationships
(bonding social capital). The negative consequences of social
capital are more often associated with bonding vis-à-vis
Without "bridging" social capital, "bonding" groups can become
isolated and disenfranchised from the rest of society and, most
importantly, from groups with which bridging must occur in order to
denote an "increase" in social capital. Bonding social capital is a
necessary antecedent for the development of the more powerful form of
bridging social capital. Bonding and bridging social capital can
work together productively if in balance, or they may work against
each other. As social capital bonds and stronger homogeneous groups
form, the likelihood of bridging social capital is attenuated. Bonding
social capital can also perpetuate sentiments of a certain group,
allowing for the bonding of certain individuals together upon a common
radical ideal. The strengthening of insular ties can lead to a variety
of effects such as ethnic marginalization or social isolation. In
extreme cases ethnic cleansing may result if the relationship between
different groups is so strongly negative. In mild cases, it just
isolates certain communities such as suburbs of cities because of the
bonding social capital and the fact that people in these communities
spend so much time away from places that build bridging social
Social capital (in the institutional
Robert Putnam sense) may also
lead to bad outcomes if the political institution and democracy in a
specific country is not strong enough and is therefore overpowered by
the social capital groups. "
Civil society and the collapse of the
Weimar Republic" suggests that "it was weak political
institutionalization rather than a weak civil society that was
Germany's main problem during the Wihelmine and Weimar eras."
Because the political institutions were so weak people looked to other
outlets. "Germans threw themselves into their clubs, voluntary
associations, and professional organizations out of frustration with
the failures of the national government and political parties, thereby
helping to undermine the
Weimar Republic and facilitate Hitler's rise
to power." In this article about the fall of the Weimar Republic, the
author makes the claim that Hitler rose to power so quickly because he
was able to mobilize the groups towards one common goal. Even though
German society was, at the time, a "joining" society these groups were
fragmented and their members did not use the skills they learned in
their club associations to better their society. They were very
introverted in the Weimar Republic. Hitler was able to capitalize on
this by uniting these highly bonded groups under the common cause of
bringing Germany to the top of world politics. The former world order
had been destroyed during World War I, and Hitler believed that
Germany had the right and the will to become a dominant global power.
Additionally, in his essay "A Criticism of Putnam's Theory of Social
Capital", Michael Shindler expands upon Berman's argument that
Wiemar social clubs and similar associations in countries that did not
develop democracy, were organized in such a way that they fostered a
"we" instead of an "I" mentality among their members, by arguing that
groups which possess cultures that stress solidarity over
individuality, even ones that are "horizontally" structured and which
were also common to pre-soviet eastern europe, will not engender
democracy if they are politically aligned with non-democratic
Later work by Putnam also suggests that social capital, and the
associated growth of public trust are inhibited by immigration and
rising racial diversity in communities. Putnam's study regarding
the issue argued that in American areas with a lack of homogeneity,
some individuals neither participated in bonding nor bridging social
capital. In societies where immigration is high (USA) or where ethnic
heterogeneity is high (Eastern Europe), it was found that citizens
lacked in both kinds of social capital and were overall far less
trusting of others than members of homogenous communities were found
to be. Lack of homogeneity led to people withdrawing from even their
closest groups and relationships, creating an atomized society as
opposed to a cohesive community. These findings challenge previous
beliefs that exposure to diversity strengthens social capital, either
through bridging social gaps between ethnicities or strengthening
in-group bonds. It is very important for policy makers to monitor the
level of perceived socio-economic threat from immigrants because
negative attitudes towards immigrants make integration difficult and
affect social capital.
Reproduction of inequality
James Coleman has indicated that social capital eventually led to the
creation of human capital for the future generation. Human
capital, a private resource, could be accessed through what the
previous generation accumulated through social capital. Field
suggested that such a process could lead to the very inequality social
capital attempts to resolve. While Coleman viewed social capital
as a relatively neutral resource, he did not deny the class
reproduction that could result from accessing such capital, given that
individuals worked toward their own benefit. Even though Coleman never
truly addresses Bourdieu in his discussion, this coincides with
Bourdieu's argument set forth in Reproduction in Education, Society
and Culture. Bourdieu and Coleman were fundamentally different at the
theoretical level (as Bourdieu believed the actions of individuals
were rarely ever conscious, but more so only a result of their habitus
(see below) being enacted within a particular field, but this
realization by both seems to undeniably connect their understanding of
the more latent aspects of social capital.
According to Bourdieu, habitus refers to the social context within
which a social actor is socialized. Thus, it is the social platform,
itself, that equips one with the social reality they become accustomed
to. Out of habitus comes field, the manner in which one integrates and
displays his or her habitus. To this end, it is the social exchange
and interaction between two or more social actors. To illustrate this,
we assume that an individual wishes to better his place in society. He
therefore accumulates social capital by involving himself in a social
network, adhering to the norms of that group, allowing him to later
access the resources (e.g. social relationships) gained over time. If,
in the case of education, he uses these resources to better his
educational outcomes, thereby enabling him to become socially mobile,
he effectively has worked to reiterate and reproduce the
stratification of society, as social capital has done little to
alleviate the system as a whole. This may be one negative aspect of
social capital, but seems to be an inevitable one in and of itself, as
are all forms of capital.
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"religion, economics of" (abstract) by
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Wikiversity has learning resources about Social capital
The World Social Capital Monitor, Survey in 35 languages within the
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
Social Capital as the social dimension of the UN SDG, Jos Verbeek of
the Worldbank, August 2017
Types of capital
Accumulation of capital
Liquid (short) vs. Patient (long)
Social networks and social media
Distributed social network (list)
Enterprise social networking
Mobile social network
Personal knowledge networking
List of social networking websites
List of virtual communities with more than 1 million users
List of virtual communities with more than 100 million active users
Organizational network analysis
Social aspects of television
Social data revolution
Social exchange theory
Social identity theory
Social network analysis
Giant Global Graph
Social network analysis
Social network analysis software
Social networking potential
Friend of a friend
Six degrees of separation
Social network game