Social Capital
Paul Blokker
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Overview Class
Social Capital
1. Main themes:
- Conceptualization and origins of the notion
of social capital;
- Three different theorizations of social capital
(Coleman, Putnam, Bourdieu);
- The role of and problems regarding social
capital in pluralistic societies.
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Overview Course
Embeddedness
3. Relevance:
a. Social capital as necessary condition for
successful local development, social
integration, and political participation;
b. Attention for significance of social ties as
well as cultural underpinnings for local
development;
c. Understanding of ambiguities of social
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capital.
Overview Course
Social Capital
Relevant literature of the reading list:
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Bourdieu, P.
Trigilia, C.
Woolcock, M.
Castiglione, D.
Fennema, M. and J. Tillie
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Social Capital: A
Definition
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1. Social Capital
A Conceptualization of Social Capital
(see Castiglione 2008, chapter 7)
- The intellectual origins of the concept of
social capital are wide-ranging:
- Human capital (Gary Becker)
- Civicness (Alexis de Tocqueville)
- Community (Tönnies)
- Social norms of cooperation (Durkheim,
Weber, Simmel)6
1. Social Capital
A Conceptualization of Social Capital
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Social capital can be seen as indicating an
approach, rather than a concept
The notion of social capital fruitfully
combines various strands of research that
‘pose afresh the issue of the nature of the
social order’ (Castiglione 2008: 183).
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1. Social Capital
A Conceptualization of Social Capital
Social capital addresses 3 important questions:
1. Sociality. The motivational drives of
human behaviour and action in social
contexts;
2. Sociability. Concerned with people’s
tendency to associate with others or in
groups;
3. Social embeddedness. Mechanisms of
social integration and reproduction.
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1. Social Capital
1. Sociality
(see in particular Coleman)
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The idea is that rationality is at the basis of social
action, but is neither completely free-standing (as in
under-socialized views of rational action), nor
completely predetermined by social norms and
structures (as in over-socialized accounts of
behaviour).
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Sociality is based on the ideas that: 1) actors
internalize norms, and adhere to obligations and
social structures for cooperation, and 2) structures
are not only constraints but also resources for selfinterested actions.
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1. Social Capital
2. Sociability
(see in particular Putnam)
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The problem is about the impulse for people to enter
in more close relation or association with others.
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Sociability entails a different way of explaining how
social capital works:
- not on the basis of a functional account of a
resource for instrumental action,
- but in a culturalist and structuralist view of
social capital as resources for cooperation and
democracy (associations) and social relations of
trust (community).
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1. Social Capital
3. Social Embeddedness
(see in particular Bourdieu)
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Social capital as one form of capital among
others (human capital, cultural capital,
economic capital).
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‘Capital’ because an investment of time one
makes in social relations, or the kind of trust
one puts in others.
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1. Social Capital
3. Social Embeddedness
(see in particular Bourdieu)
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Social capital as a theory of social
reproduction, similar to the (Marxist)
interpretation of capital as ‘social relation’,
rather than a material thing.
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Bourdieu’s theory of social capital underlines
the importance of social capital as the
accumulation of past relations, which
contribute to determine the future.
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1. Social Capital
1. Social Capital as Collective Resource
A. James Coleman
- Coleman endorses rational choice idea of
social action, but rejects extreme
individualistic views
- Social capital is a ‘resource for action’
- Coleman rejects under-socialized
understanding of social action (extreme
rational choice) and over-socialized view
(structuralism/sociology)
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1. Social Capital
1. Social Capital as Collective Resource
A. James Coleman
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Coleman’s aim is to ‘import the economists’
principle of rational action for use in the analysis
of social systems proper... and to do so without
discarding social organization in the process’
(1988: 97).
Social capital is defined by its function: enabling
social action
Social capital consists of ‘some aspect of social
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structures’ and facilitates certain actions.
1. Social Capital
1. Social Capital as Collective Resource
A. James Coleman
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Social capital inheres neither in singular actors nor in
physical goods.
Social capital is part of the structure of relations
between actors and among actors (incl.
organizations).
Functional definition: social capital can take variety
of forms, as long as it facilitates distinct action
(cultural ties, organizational linkages, civic culture)
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1. Social Capital
1. Social Capital as Collective Resource
A. James Coleman
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Social capital includes:
a. Obligations and expectations (cf. reciprocity)
b. Information channels
c. Norms and sanctions
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1. Social Capital
1. Social Capital as Collective Resource
A. James Coleman
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Social capital needs some level of closure of a social
structure (e.g. in effectively imposing norms;
generating trust)
Social capital often derives from original
organizations set up for a specific purpose, which
lasts beyond the original goal (e.g. neighbourhood
association; counter-example: Solidarnosc)
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1. Social Capital
1. Social Capital as Collective Resource
B. Robert Putnam
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Putnam focuses on the relation between
democracy and civil society.
His main concern is ‘the importance of a strong and
active civil society to the consolidation of democracy’
(as in de Tocqueville).
The idea is that the ‘quality of public life and the
performance of social institutions are powerfully
influenced by norms and networks of civic
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engagement’
1. Social Capital
1. Social Capital as Collective Resource
B. Robert Putnam
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The argument is that social bonds are crucial for
both successful democratic societies as well as for
socio-economic modernization.
Putnam found in a study of local government in Italy
that the ‘quality of governance was determined by
longstanding traditions of civic engagement (or its
absence)’.
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1. Social Capital
1. Social Capital as Collective Resource
B. Robert Putnam
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Preconditions of a successful democracy include –
according to Putnam - ‘voter turnout, newspaper
readership, membership in choral societies and
football clubs’, in other words civic engagement and
social bonds.
Social capital, according to Putnam, consists of
‘features of social organization such as networks,
norms, and social trust that facilitate coordination
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and cooperation for mutual benefit’.
1. Social Capital
1. Social Capital as Collective Resource
B. Robert Putnam
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Three main components:
a. Trust;
b. Social norms and obligations;
c. Social networks and associations.
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1. Social Capital
1. Social Capital as Collective Resource
B. Robert Putnam
1. Networks of civic engagement foster norms of
generalized reciprocity and encourage the
emergence of social trust;
2. Networks facilitate coordination and communication,
and amplify reputations, allowing collective action
dilemmas to be resolved;
3. Networks reduce incentives for opportunism;
4. Networks are grounded in traditions of collaboration;
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5. Networks broaden participants’ sense of the self.
1. Social Capital
1. Social Capital as Collective Resource
B. Robert Putnam
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Putnam’s interpretation builds on Coleman’s – social
capital as a resource for action – but in a culturalist
interpretation;
Thus, for Putnam, the essence is the notion of
‘civicness’, a disposition to act in a way that takes
as its purpose the common good, rather than
individual self-interest (related to republicanism and
communitarianism; de Tocqueville’s civic associationism; civic culture);
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Civic virtue then explains efficiency and cohesion
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of societies.
1. Social Capital
1. Social Capital as Collective Resource
B. Robert Putnam
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indicators of social capital include:
- memberships in associations;
- services as officers or committee members in
organizations;
- club and church attendance;
- union memberships;
- attending exercise classes, health clubs, or
league bowling;
- trust, honesty and morality;
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1. Social Capital
1. Social Capital as Collective Resource
C. Pierre Bourdieu
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According to Bourdieu, the ‘social world is
accumulated history, and if it is not to be reduced
to a discontinuous series of instantaneous
mechanical equilibria between agents who are
treated as interchangeable particles, one must
reintroduce into it the notion of capital…’ (46).
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1. Social Capital
1. Social Capital as Collective Resource
C. Pierre Bourdieu
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Bourdieu’s focus is on agents or actors and their
particular positions within society;
Life is not a roulette: changing one’s social status
quasi-instantaneously is not possible;
One of the premises of Bourdieu’s sociology is that
society is made up out of distinctive social fields;
Forms of capital (economic, cultural and social)
are the core factors defining positions and
possibilities of the various actors in any field. 26
1. Social Capital
1. Social Capital as Collective Resource
C. Pierre Bourdieu
- Each social field – arts, education, law,
politics, economy - has a distinct profile,
depending on the proportionate importance
within it of each of the forms of capital;
- The forms of capital controlled by the various
agents are trumps that define the chances of
winning the stakes in the game.
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1. Social Capital
1. Social Capital as Collective Resource
C. Pierre Bourdieu
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Capital: ‘accumulated labor (in its
materialized form or its ‘incorporated’,
embodied form) which, when appropriated on
a private, i.e., exclusive basis by agents or
groups of agents, enables them to
appropriate social energy in the form of
reified or living labor’.
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1. Social Capital
1. Social Capital as Collective Resource
C. Pierre Bourdieu
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‘[T]he structure of the distribution of the
different types and subtypes of capital at a
given moment in time represents the
immanent structure of the social world’.
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1. Social Capital
1. Social Capital as Collective Resource
C. Pierre Bourdieu
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Cultural Capital consists of:
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An embodied state: long-lasting dispositions of
the mind and body;
An objectified state: cultural goods
An institutionalized state: a form of
objectification (e.g. educational qualifications)
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1. Social Capital
1. Social Capital as Collective Resource
C. Pierre Bourdieu
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Social Capital consists of:
‘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 – or in other words, to membership of
a group – which provides each of its members
with the backing of the collectivity-owned capital,
a ‘credential’ which entitles them to credit, in the
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various senses of the word’.
1. Social Capital
1. Social Capital as Collective Resource
C. Pierre Bourdieu
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Social Capital:
‘The volume of the social capital possessed by a
given agent thus depends on the size of the
network of connections he can effectively mobilize
and on the volume of the capital (economic,
cultural or symbolic) possessed in his own right by
each of those to whom he is connected’.
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1. Social Capital
1. Social Capital as Collective Resource
C. Pierre Bourdieu
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Social Capital:
Social capital is never completely
independent of other forms of capital ‘because
the exchanges instituting mutual
acknowledgement presuppose the
reacknowledgement of a minimum of objective
homogeneity, and because it exerts a multiplier
effect on the capital [one] possesses…’
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1. Social Capital
1. Social Capital as Collective Resource
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1. Social Capital
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1. Social Capital
1. Social Capital as interdisciplinary programme
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1. Social Capital
1. Social Capital as interdiscplinary programme
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Social Capital