What is Social Capital? Theory, Definition, Elements and Types

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What is the Social Capital theory in Sociology definition?

The concept of social capital in sociology includes the institutions, the relationships, the attitudes and values that govern interactions among people and contribute to economic and social development.

The commonalities of most definitions of social capital in sociology are focusing on social relations that have productive benefits. The variety of definitions identified in the literature stem from the highly context-specific nature of social capital and the complexity of its conceptualization and ope-rationalization.

Which is the best definition of Social capital?

Social capital does not have a clear, undisputed meaning, for substantive and ideological reasons. So, there is no set and commonly agreed upon definition of social capital and the particular definition adopted by a study will depend on the discipline and level of investigation.

Social capital is about the value of social networks, similar bonding people, and bridging between diverse people, with norms of reciprocity.

Dekker and Uslaner stated that ‘the folk wisdom that more people get their jobs from whom they know, rather than what they know, turns out to be true.’

Adler and Kwon identified that the core intuition guiding social capital in sociology research is that the goodwill that others have toward us is a valuable resource. As such, they define social capital as ‘the goodwill available to individuals or groups. Its source lies in the structure and content of the actor’s social relations. Its effects flow from the information, influence, and solidarity it makes available to the actor.

Dekker and Uslaner posited that social capital is fundamentally about how people interact with each other.

Elements of Social Capital

The concept of social capital has three major components as follows.

Major components of Social Capital in sociology.

There are major three types can be seen in social capital based on the initiation. Those are differ from country to country and basically society to society. The following picture explains those types of social capital in sociology.

Bourdieu forms of Social Capital summary

Major types of Social Capital in sociology.

Dimensions of the concept

The concept of social capital can be viewed along three dimensions. They are;

  • Its scope (or unit of observation)
  • Its forms (or manifestations)
  • The channels through which it affects development

The Scope of Social Capital –

Putnam defines social capital as those features of social organization, such as networks of individuals or households, and the associated norms and values, that create externalizes for the community as a whole.

The Forms of Social Capital –

Whether at the micro, meso, or macro level, social capital exerts its influence on development as a result of the interactions between two distinct types of social capital— structural and cognitive. Structural social capital facilitates information sharing, and collective action and decision making through established roles, social networks and other social structures supplemented by rules, procedures, and precedents. As such, it is a relatively objective and externally observable construct. Cognitive social capital refers to shared norms, values, trust, attitudes, and beliefs. Having a long-lasting family life can be considered as a social capital. It is therefore a more subjective and intangible concept.

The Channels of Social Capital –

The stream of benefits from social capital or the channels through which it affects development—includes several related elements, such as information sharing and mutually beneficial collective action and decision making.

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