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Social capital

From Academic Kids

Social capital "refers to the collective value of all 'social networks' and the inclinations that arise from these networks to do things for each other," according to Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone and the concept's leading exponent (though not its originator). According to Putnam and his followers, social capital is a key component to building and maintaining democracy.

Putnam also speaks of two main components of the concept: bonding social capital and bridging social capital. The former refering to the value assigned to social networks between homogenous peoples and the latter to that of social networks between socially heterogeneous peoples.

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, and as a result is now considered by institutions such as the World Bank in deciding policy. Social capital is also argued to have a host of other benefits for societies, governments, individuals, and communities; Putnam likes to note that joining an organization cuts in half an individual's chance of dying within the next year.

However, social capital may not always be beneficial. 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.

The concept of social capital in a Chinese social context has been closely linked with the concept of guanxi.

Nan Lin's concept of Social Capital has a more individualistic approach: Investment in social relations with expected returns in the marketplace. It may subsume some others concepts such as Bourdieu, Coleman, Flap, Putnam and Eriksson as noted in Nan Lin book "Social Capital" (2001; Cambridge University Press).

In The Forms of Capital (1986) 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."


See also

External links

fr:Capital social simple:Social capital de:Soziales Kapital he:הון תרבותי

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