Sociology Index

Social Capital

Social capital is a term commonly used by political and academic elites. According to Coleman "The function identified by the concept of social capital is the value of aspects of social structure to actors as resources that they can use to achieve their interests." Putnam defines social capital as trust, norms and networks that facilitate cooperation for mutual benefit. According to Michael B. Spring, social capital is an analogous term to human capital, which was itself created by analogy to the term physical capital. The first formal use of social capital as a concept was laid out by the French Marxist sociologist Pierre Bourdieu in 1986.

For Pierre Bourdieu, social capital was the aggregate of the actual or potential resources which are linked to mutual acquaintance and recognition to membership in a group, which provides each of its members with the backing of the collectively-owned capital. Social network has always involved trade-off between inclusion and exclusivity. Social capital within a group is often built by excluding those outside that group. The benefits of social capital for some can also disadvantages of exclusion for others.

Social Capital as Credit - Social capital, or aggregate reputation, is a form of credit. Some formal transactions can be supported by social capital. Informal transactions are rarely underpinned by financial credit or legal agreement and instead rely entirely on social capital. We all have our internal calculators keeping tacit track of who is doing wrong and who is doing right, the health of the relationships and adjusting our actuarial tables according to experience.

"Capital can present itself in three fundamental guises: as economic capital, which is immediately convertible into money and may be institutionalised in the form of property rights; as cultural capital, which is convertible, on certain conditions, into economic capital and may be institutionalised in the form of educational qualifications; and as social capital, made up of social obligations (‘connections’), which is convertible, in certain conditions, into economic capital and may be institutionalised in the form of a title of nobility." - Bourdieu.

Abstracts On Social Capital

Measuring social capital: Towards a theoretically informed measurement framework for researching social capital in family and community life. by Wendy Stone. Social Capital and Citizenship project, this paper contributes to the development of clear links between theorised and empirical understandings of social capital by: establishing a theoretically informed measurement framework for empirical investigation of social capital; and reviewing existing measures of social capital in light of this framework. Concludes with a statement of guiding principles for the measurement and empirical investigation of social capital in family and community life.

Community formation and social capital in Australia , Dimitria Giorgas.

This paper explores ethnic community formation and social capital among six groups: Germans, Dutch, Hungarians, Poles, Italians and Greeks.

It argues that social capital within the family is particularly important in overcoming deficiencies in other forms of capital; although it can only be successfully utilised when close relations exist between parents and children. Thus cultures that place greater emphasis on the family and are collectivist in nature, such as Greeks and Italians, are more likely to utilise social capital. In contrast cultures that have an individualistic focus, for example, Germans and Hungarians, are more likely to under-invest in social capital.

Social Capital: Reviewing the Concept and its Policy Implications
The conceptual literature on social capital; The empirical evidence on social capital; Social capital and policy analysis; Some policy ideas aimed at enhancing social capital.

Towards and theorised understanding of family life and social capital, Ian Winter. Families are typically thought of as the wellspring of civil society and an important source of social capital. The aim of this Working Paper is to bring the relationship between families and social capital under some scrutiny. The paper defines the concept of social capital and reviews the literature on social capital within and beyond family networks.

Social Capital: The missing link, Christian Grootaert. It has now become recognized that the "traditional" types of capital (natural, physical and human) determine only partially the process of economic growth because they overlook the way in which the economic actors interact and organize themselves to generate growth and development. The missing link is social capital.

Measuring social capital towards a theoretically informed measurement framework for researching social capital in family and community life, Wendy Stone. Provides a review of measurement tools and a theoretical framework for future social capital research.

Books On Social Capital

Healthy Ties - Social Capital, Population Health and Survival
Hyyppa, Markku T.

Cultural inequalities in social capital and health. Includes data on an exceptionally healthy community that is rich in social capital. Carefully examines effects of social capital on public health. Longitudinal data on social capital and health outcomes are carefully described and reviewed in this book. Social capital, population health and survival should inspire scholars, researchers, teachers and advanced students in social epidemiology and public health, and lead to new interventions in promoting health.

Gender And Social Capital by Brenda O'Neill, Elisabeth Gidengill, Elisabeth Gidengil.

Achieving Success Through Social Capital: Tapping Hidden Resources in Your Personal and Business Networks Wayne E. Baker.

Social Capital : A Theory of Social Structure and Action (Structural Analysis in the Social Sciences) by Nan Lin, Mark Granovetter.

Democracies in Flux: The Evolution of Social Capital in Contemporary Society by Robert D. Putnam.

Social Capital Versus Social Theory: Political Economy and Social Science at the Turn of the Millenium by Ben Fine.

Conflict, Social Capital And Managing Natural Resources: A West African Case Study. Keith M. Moore.

In Good Company: How Social Capital Makes Organizations Work - Don Cohen, Laurence Prusak

Players in the Public Policy Process : Nonprofits as Social Capital and Agents by Herrington J. Bryce

Generating Social Capital: Civil Society and Institutions in Comparative Perspective by Dietlind Stolle, Marc Hooghe

The Creation And Destruction Of Social Capital: Entrepreneurship, Co-Operative Movements and Institutions by Gunnar Lind Haase Svendsen, Gert Tinggaard Svendsen

Social Capital by David Halpern - Social capital has become a buzzword among political and academic elites, though the term remains relatively unfamiliar to the general public

Baum, F., Palmer, C., Modra, C., Murray, C. & Bush, R. (2000), ‘Families, social capital and health’, Chapter 10 in I. Winter (ed.) Social Capital and Public Policy in Australia, Australian Institute of Family Studies, Melbourne.

Coleman, J. (1988), Social capital in the creation of human capital, American Journal of Sociology, vol. 94, S. 95-120.

Coleman, J. (1988a), The creation and destruction of social capital: implications for the law, Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy, vol. 3, pp. 375-404.

Foley, M. & Edwards, B. (1997), Escape from politics? Social theory and the social capital debate, American Behavioural Scientist, vol. 40, no. 5, pp. 550-561.

Furstenberg, F. (1995), ‘Social capital and successful development among at-risk youth’, Journal of Marriage and the Family, vol. 57, pp. 580-592.

Furstenberg, G. (1998), Social capital and the role of fathers in the family, Chapter 15 in A. Booth & A. Creuter (eds) Men In Families: When Do They Get Involved? What Difference Does It Make?, Lawrence Erlbaum, New Jersey.

Harriss, J. & De Renzio, P. (1997), Missing link or analytically missing? The concept of social capital, Journal of International Development, vol. 9, no. 7, pp. 919-937.

Hughes, P., Bellamy, J. & Black, A. (1998), Social capital and religious faith, Zadok Paper, S97, Spring Summer 1998/1999.

Kawachi, I., Kennedy, B., Lochner, K. & Prothrow-Stith, D. (1997), Social capital, income inequality and mortality, American Journal of Public Health, vol. 87, no. 9, pp. 1491-1498.

Knack, S. & Keefer, P. (1997), Does social capital have an economic payoff? A cross-country investigation, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, November, pp. 1251-1288.

Latham, M. (1997), ‘The search for social capital’, in A. Norton et al. Social Capital: The individual, Society and the State, Centre for Independent Studies, Sydney.
Ladd, E. (1996), ‘The data just don’t show erosion of America’s social capital’, The Public Perspective, June/July, pp. 1-22.

Levi, M. (1996), Social and unsocial capital: a review essay of Robert Putnam’s Making Democracy Work, Politics and Society, vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 45-55.

Lyons, M. & Fabiansson, C. (1998), Is volunteering declining in Australia?, Australian Journal on Volunteering, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 15-21.

Newton, K. (1997), Social capital and democracy, American Behavioural Scientist, vol. 40, no. 5, pp. 575-586.

Norton et al. Social Capital: The Individual, Society and the State, Centre for Independent Studies, Sydney.

Onyx, J. & Bullen, P. (1997), Measuring Social Capital in Five Communities in NSW: An Analysis, Working Paper No. 41, Centre for Australian Community Organisations and Management, University of Technology, Sydney.

Onyx, J. & Bullen, P. (1998), Measuring Social Capital in Five Communities in NSW: A Practitioner’s Guide, Management Alternatives Pty Ltd, Sydney.

Parcel, T. & Menaghan, E. (1993), Family social capital and children’s behavioural problems, Social Psychology Quarterly, vol. 56, no. 2, pp. 120-135.

Portes, A. (1998), Social capital: its origins and applications in modern sociology, Annual Review of Sociology, vol. 24, pp. 1-24.

Putnam, R. (1995), Bowling alone: America’s declining social capital, Journal of Democracy, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 65-78.

Putnam, R. (1993a), The prosperous community: social capital and public life, The American Prospect, Spring, pp. 35-42.

Putzel, J. (1997), Accounting for the “dark side” of social capital: reading Robert Putnam on democracy, Journal of International Development, vol. 9, no. 7, pp. 939-949.

Stewart Weeks, M. & Richardson, C. (1998), Social Capital Stories, Centre for Independent Studies, Sydney.

Valenzuela, A. & Dornbusch, S. (1994), Familism and social capital in the academic achievement of Mexican origin and Anglo adolescents, Social Science Quarterly, vol. 75, no. 1, pp. 18-36.

Woolcock, M. (1998), Social capital and economic development: toward a theoretical synthesis and policy framework, Theory and Society, vol. 27, pp. 151-208.