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Social capital is a sociological concept, which refers to connections within and between social networks. The concept of social capital highlights the value of social relations and the role of cooperation and [[confidence] to get collective or economic results. The term social capital is frequently used by different social sciences. It is a wide term, and that is why it can be defined accentuating different aspects depending on the perspective. In general terms, we could say that social capital is the fruit of social relations, and consists of the expectative benefits derived from the preferential treatment and cooperation between individuals and groups. Within psychology it is viewed as the product of investment in establishing trust and normsin these networks in order to develop social cohesion, cooperative communities and community involvment.
Though there are a variety of related definitions, which have been described as "something of a cure-all" for the problems of modern society, they tend to share the core idea "that social networks have value. Just as a screwdriver (physical capital) or a university education (human capital) can increase productivity (both individual and collective), so do social contacts affect the productivity of individuals and groups".
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 neighbor, and they with other neighbors, 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 neighbors (pp. 130-131)."
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, Barry Wellman and 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 (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 Aristotle to 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 community versus modernization of society and individualism has been the most discussed topic among the fathers of sociology (Tönnies, 1887; Durkheim, 1893; Simmel, 1905; Weber,1946). They were convinced that industrialisation and urbanization were transforming social relationship 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 works, reflection on social links in modern society continued with interesting contributions in the 1950s and in the 1960s, in particular 'The Mass Society Theory' (Bell, 1962; Nisbet, 1969; Stein, 1960; Whyte, 1956). They proposed themes similar to those of the founding fathers, 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). It is for this reason that social capital generated so much interest in the academic and political world (Rose, 2000).
Though Bourdieu might agree with Coleman that social capital in the abstract is a neutral resource, his work tends to show how it 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 capital.
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. Here it is important to note the distinction between "bonding" and "bridging". There is currently no research which identifies the negative consequences of "bridging" social capital when in balance with its necessary antecedent, "bonding".
Finally, 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.
Definitions, forms, and measurement
Social capital lends itself to multiple definitions, interpretations, and uses. 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, 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 focussing 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.”
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 "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 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.
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 interactions.
In "Social Capital and Development: The Coming Agenda," Francis Fukuyama points out that there isn't an agreed definition of social capital, so he explains it as "shared norms or values that promote social cooperation, instantiated in actual social relationships" (Fukuyama, 27), and uses this definition throughout this paper. He argues that social capital is a necessary precondition for successful development, but a strong rule of law and basic political institutions are necessary to build social capital. He believes that a strong social capital is necessary for a strong democracy and strong economic growth. Familism is a major problem of trust because it fosters a two-tiered moral system, in which a person must favor the opinions of family members. Fukuyama believes that bridging social capital (a term coined by Putnam in Bowling Alone), is essential for a strong social capital because a broader radius of trust will enable connections across borders of all sorts and serve as a basis for organizations. Although he points out many problems and possible solutions in his paper, he does admit that there is still much to be done to build a strong social capital.
The Social Capital Foundation (TSCF) suggested that social capital should not be mixed up with its manifestations. While for example social capital is often understood as the networks that a person possesses and that he/she may use in a social integration purpose, it is more the disposition to create, maintain and develop such networks that constitutes real social capital. Similarly, civic engagement is a manifestation of social capital but not social capital itself. In this definition, social capital is a collective mental disposition close to the spirit of community.
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 focusses on the shared meaning and understanding that individuals or groups have with one another.
A network-based conception can also be used for characterizing the social capital of collectivities (such as organizations or business clusters).
Social capital: a new concept 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' (Ferragina, 2010:75).
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, but in fact 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 Capitalism. 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 enlarged.
In his pioneering study, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (Simon & Schuster, 2000), Harvard political scientist 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." Writing before the proliferation of the internet, Putnam claims to have found an overall decline in social capital (really civic engagement) in America over the past fifty years, a trend that may have significant implications for American society.
Putnam speaks of two main components of the concept: bonding social capital and bridging social capital, the creation of which Putnam credits to Ross Gittel 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 capital. Bridging social capital is 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.
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 Facebook or Myspace tends to be bridging capital according to one study, though "virtual" social capital is a new area of research.
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 be 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 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.
The second form of consummatory social capital dates back to the writings of Karl Marx, a German philosopher and sociologist from the 19th century, who wrote about solidarity. The main focus of the study of Karl Marx was the working class of the Industrial Revolution. Marx analyzed that these workers banded together and worked together in order to support each other for the benefit of the group. This banding together was an adaptation to the immediate time as opposed to a trait that was installed in them throughout their youth. As another example, Coleman states that this type of social capital is the type that brings individuals to stand up for what they believe in, and even die for it, in the face of adversity.
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 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 group.
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. 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 different groups.
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.
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) made a research to see 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, like 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 municipality level.
The level of cohesion of a group also affects its social capital. 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 transitivity.
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 other. The Ku Klux Klan and the Mafia are examples of these kinds of organizations.
Sociologists 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.
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 exclusionary.
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 work".
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 democracy.
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.
Social capital and women's engagement with politics
See also Gender and 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 this change.
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 politics.
- 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 off the radar. 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.
Inversely, a lack of social capital can impair health. For example, results from a survey given to 13-18 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 have a positive effect on social capital. The rapid growth of social networking sites such as Facebook and 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 people spend online the more in-person contact they have, thus positively enhancing social capital.
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 another setting.
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 tenants 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. 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 who’s 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.
It has been noted that social capital may be not always invested towards positive ends. An example of the complexities of the effects of social capital is violent or criminal gang activity that is encouraged through the strengthening of intra-group relationships. (Bonding social capital) This iterates the importance of distinguishing between bridging social capital as opposed to the more easily accomplished bonding of social capital. In the case of deleterious consequences of social capital, it is a disproportionate amount of bonding vis-à-vis bridging.
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 capital.
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.
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.
Social capital and reproduction of inequality
Coleman 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 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 in which as social actor is socialized within. Thus, it is the social platform, per se, that equips one with the social reality they become accustomed to. Out of habitus comes field, the manner in which one integrates and displays their 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.
- Civil society
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- From Steven N. Durlauf and Lawrence E. Blume, ed. (2008). The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, 2nd Edition:
- "social capital" (abstract) by Partha Dasgupta
- "religion, economics of" (abstract) by Laurence R. Iannaccone and Eli Berman
- "social norms" (abstract) by H. Peyton Young
- "social networks, economic relevance of" (abstract) by James Moody and Martina Morris
- Mohan, Giles, and John Mohan. "Placing Social Capital." Progress in Human Geography 26.2 (2002): 191-210. University of Cincinnati. Web. 7 Nov. 2010. <http://phg.sagepub.com/content/26/2/191>.
- Portes, A. 1998: Social capital: its origins and applications in modern sociology. Annual Review of Sociology 24: 1-24.
- Zhou, Min and Carl L. Bankston III Growing Up American: How Vietnamese Children Adapt to Life in the United States New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1998. ISBN 978-0-871-54995-2.
- The Social Capital Foundation, Patrick Hunout
- Social Capital Gateway, Resources for the study of social capital
- Social capital tool by Martin Gargiulo INSEAD Faculty, Identifying patterns in your network.
- The Saguaro Seminar's "Primer on Social Capital"
- World Bank's PovertyNet page on social capital
- Lin N., 2001, Building a Network Theory of Social Capital
- Social Capital Inc., an organization dedicated to increasing social capital in local communities
- New Papers on Social Capital, a Newsletter edited by the RePEc Project
- Social Capital Theory in the Context of Japanese Children, article by Cherylynn Bassani in the electronic journal of contemporary japanese studies, 8 May 2003.
- A Comparison of Social Capital Between Parents in Single and Two Parent Families in Japan, article by Cherylynn Bassani in the electronic journal of contemporary japanese studies, 5 July 2007.
- Five Dimensions of Social Capital Theory as they Pertain to Youth Studies, article by Cherylynn Bassani in the Journal of Youth Studies 10, 1 2007.
- Assist Social Capital, Working to Promote Best Practice in the Development of Social Capital
- Can Social Capital Explain Persistent Poverty Gaps? from the National Poverty Center
- Ethnicity as Social Capital
- Social Capital within Ethnic Communities
- Social capital, quality of life, and Internet and mobile phone use
- Collection of best Social Capital blogs by Heather Ross
- Video explanation of how social capital indexing powers citizen engagement
- Measuring social capital in a Philippine slum article by Petr Matous and Kazumasa Ozawa in the Journal of Field Methods about social capital measurement methodology with a focus on socio-economically deprived contexts
Types of capital
Academic ·Circulating/Floating ·Cultural ·Cross-cultural ·Educational ·Financial ·Fixed ·Human ·Individual ·Information
Liquid (short) vs. Patient (long)
Constant ·Variable ·Fictitious
|See also: Five Capitals|
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