Sociology Index

Social Capital

Books On Social Capital, Human Capital, Political Capital, Abstracts and Articles, Bibliography

Social capital is ‘trust, norms and networks’ that facilitate cooperation for mutual benefit - Putnam

Social capital is an analogous term to human capital, which was itself created by analogy to the term physical capital - Michael B. Spring

The term social capital is now common among political and academic elites. The term social capital is unfamiliar to the general public

Physical capital in an organization would be the things that are owned by the corporation - the computers, buildings, manufacturing equipment, so on. There are well defined measures by which the value of the physical capital might be defined.

"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.

The human capital in an organization consists of the workers in an organization. There are a variety of measures by which human capital might be measured. Intertwined with the human capital would seem to be another kind of capital. We might imagine a widget salesman in Pittsburgh who does a wonderful business, but fails to sell widgets in Cleveland. We might further imagine that over the years in Pittsburgh, the salesman developed relationships with clients that allowed for high sales. Moving to Cleveland, the salesman now had to complete with another widget salesman who had extensive relationships with his or her clients. People continued, in a reasonably competitive market to work with the person they knew and trusted. These relationships of trust might represent social capital squandered when the salesman left Pittsburgh, and an example of the competition between social and human capital in Cleveland.

Well, that may be one example of social capital. Think about the person who always seems to know someone with whom they can barter or get something wholesale. Why? Is it magic or is it something that might be described as social capital. We could call it friendships. We could call it pay backs. We could call it social capital - investment in a relationship.

"The function identified by the concept of ‘social capital’ is the value of these aspects of social structure to actors as resources that they can use to achieve their interests" - Coleman. Coleman defines social capital, not by what it is, but by what it does.

Human Capital is the talents and capabilities that individuals contribute to the process of production. Human capital also refers to the sum total of skills and knowledge embodied in the ability to perform labor so as to produce economic value. Companies, governments and individuals can invest in this human ‘capital’ just as they can invest in technology and buildings or in finances.

Abstracts and Articles

Measuring social capital: Towards a theoretically informed measurement framework for researching social capital in family and community life. by Wendy Stone. Research paper no.24, Australian Institute of Family Studies.
To inform the Institute's Families, 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. The paper 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
Productivity Commission Research Paper released on 25 July 2003, 100pp. Contents include 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 (World Bank). SCI Working Paper No. 3, April 1998. 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. Is is available as a PDF version. This publication provides a review of measurement tools and a theoretical framework for future social capital research.

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.

Social Capital Bibliography

Amato, P. (1998), ‘More than money? Men’s contributions to their children’s lives’, Chapter 13 in A. Booth & A. Creuter (eds) Men In Families: When Do They Get Involved? What Difference Does It Make?, Lawrence Erlbaum, New Jersey.
ABS (1997), Australian Social Trends 1997, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Catalogue No. 4102.0, Canberra.
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.
Beck, U. (1992), Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity, Sage, London.
Becker, G. (1981), Treatise on the Family, Harvard University Press, Harvard.
Bourdieu, P. (1993), Sociology in Question, Sage, London.
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.
Cox, E. ( 1995), A Truly Civil Society, ABC Books, Sydney.
Finch, J. (1989), Family Obligations and Social Change, Polity Press, Cambridge.
Finch, J. & Mason, J. (1993), Negotiating Family Responsibilities, Routledge, London.
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.
Fukuyama, F. (1995), Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity, Penguin, London.
Fukuyama, F. (1999), The Great Disruption: Human Nature and the Reconstitution of Social Order, Free Press, New York.
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.
Giddens, A. (1982), Profiles and Critiques in Social Theory, Macmillan, London.
Giddens, A. (1992), The Transformation of Intimacy, Polity Press, Cambridge.
Giddens, A. (1996), ‘Affluence, poverty and the idea of a post-scarcity society’, in C. Hewitt de Alcantara (ed.) Social Futures, Global Visions, Blackwell, Oxford.
Giddens, A. (1998), The Third Way: The Renewal of Social Democracy, Polity Press, London.
Granovetter, M. (1973), ‘The strength of weak ties’, American Journal of Sociology, vol. 78, no. 6, pp. 1360-1380.
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.
Morgan, D. (1999), ‘Risk and family practices: accounting for change and fluidity in family life’, Chapter 2 in E. Silva & C. Smart (eds) The New Family, Sage, London.
Murray, C. (1984), Losing Ground, Basic Books, New York.
Newton, K. (1997), ‘Social capital and democracy’, American Behavioural Scientist, vol. 40, no. 5, pp. 575-586.
Norton, A. (1997), ‘Social capital and civil society: some definitional issues’, in A. 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. (1993), Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy, Princeton University Press, Princeton
Putnam, R. (1993a), ‘The prosperous community: social capital and public life’, The American Prospect, Spring, pp. 35-42.
Putnam, R. (1996), ‘The strange disappearance of civic America’, Policy, Autumn, pp. 3-15.
Putnam, R. (1998), ‘Foreword’, Housing Policy Debate, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. v-viii.
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.
Sampson, R., Raudenbush, S. & Earls, F. (1997), ‘Neighbourhoods and violent crime: a multilevel study of collective efficacy’, Science 277, August, pp. 918-924.
Saunders, P. (1981), Social Theory and the Urban Question, Hutchinson, London.
Sennett, R. (1998), The Corrosion of Character: The Personal Consequences of Work in the New Capitalism, WW Norton and Co., New York.
Silva, E. & Smart, C. (1999), ‘The “new” practices and politics of family life’, Chapter 1 in E. Silva & C. Smart (eds) The New Family, Sage, London.
Skocpol, T. (1996), ‘Unravelling from above’, The American Prospect, vol. 25, pp. 20-25.
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.
Warburton, J. (1997), ‘Older people as a “rich resource” for volunteer organisations: an overview of the issues’, Australian Journal of Volunteering, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 17-25.
Weber, M. (1947), The Theory of Social and Economic Organisation, T. Parsons (ed.) Free Press, New York.
Winter, I. (1994), The Radical Home Owner: Housing Tenure and Social Change, Gordon and Breach, Basel.
Wolfe, A. (1989), Whose Keeper: Social Science and Moral Obligation, University of California Press, Berkely.
Woolcock, M. (1998), ‘Social capital and economic development: toward a theoretical synthesis and policy framework’, Theory and Society, vol. 27, pp. 151-208.