Social Capital (Key Ideas)

Social Capital (Key Ideas)

John Field

Language: English

Pages: 155

ISBN: B01MSJV44V

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


MOBI from retail EPUB

The term ‘social capital’ is a way of defining the intangible resources of community, shared values and trust upon which we draw in daily life. It has achieved considerable international currency across the social sciences through the very different work of Pierre Bourdieu in France and James Coleman and Robert Putnam in the United States, and has been widely taken up within politics and sociology as an explanation for the decline in social cohesion and community values in western societies. It has also been adopted by policy makers, particularly in international governmental bodies such as the World Bank.

This fully revised second edition of Social Capital provides a thorough overview of the intense and fast-moving debate surrounding this subject. This clear and comprehensive introduction explains the theoretical underpinning of the subject, the empirical work that has been done to explore its operation, and the influence that it has had on public policy and practice. It includes guides to further reading and a list of the most important websites.

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able to mobilise by proxy the capital of a group (family, old pupils of elite schools, select club, nobility, etc.). (Bourdieu 1980:2) Characteristically, then, social capital functions to reproduce inequality, but does so partly independently of economic and cultural capital, from which it is nevertheless inseparable. Insofar as different forms of capital are not convertible, or more precisely reducible to economic capital, this is because of the differing extent to which they ‘disguise the

within a wider attempt to grapple with the basis of social order, witnessed most dramatically in his monumental late study, Foundations of Social Theory (Coleman 1994). More generally, Coleman was seeking to develop an interdisciplinary social science that could draw on both economics and sociology. Coleman was particularly influenced by the work of Gary Becker, who like himself was employed at the University of Chicago. Becker’s work on human capital, which applied the principles of economics

therefore a source of social capital that could offset some of the impact of social and economic disadvantage within the family (Coleman and Hoffer 1987). Thus Coleman introduced social capital as a post hoc concept, which he had developed partly in order to explain findings that appeared to fit badly into the existing theoretical model (Baron et al. 2000:6). Subsequently, though, he went on to provide a systematic outline of the concept that has acquired considerable influence over other writers

capital as concepts than with distinguishing between them and exploring their interconnection. As he put it somewhat later, rather than being competing concepts, the two pointed to interrelated but separate phenomena that he believed were ‘often complementary’ (Coleman 1994:304). In this paper, he defined social capital as a useful resource available to an actor through his or her social relationships. It comprises a ‘variety of entities’ that, Coleman surmised, ‘all consist of some aspect of

torrent of empirical research, though, the precise reasons for these associations are still far from clear (Macinko and Starfield 2001). Putnam has speculated that there may be four reasons for the link between social capital and health. First, he points out that social networks can furnish tangible material assistance, which in turn reduces stress; second, they can reinforce healthy norms; third, the well-networked citizen can lobby more effectively for medical services; and finally, interaction

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