Building Social Capital to Enhance Quality of Life

This blog post was written by Major Ethan Frizzell of The Salvation Army.

Social capital (like human capital and even physical capital) is not a single, uni-dimensional variable. Rather, there are many forms of social capital, and different forms have different consequences.

  • bonding social capital (that is, links among people who are like one an- other) is important for “getting by,”
  • bridging social capital (that is, links among people who are unlike one another) is crucial for “getting ahead,”
  • linking social capital (that is, vertical links to people in positions of authority) plays a special role in development and poverty alleviation.

Let us build social capital together.

There are many kinds of social capital: [3]

  • financial – Money available for investment Real estate, equipment, and/or infrastructure
  • physical – Training that increases productivity on the job
  • human – Relationships of trust embedded in social networks
  • cultural – High cultural knowledge that can be turned to the owner’s socioeconomic advantage

Social capital is recognized as an individual and a collective property.  Many researchers take it for granted that social capital is collective, but most social surveys implicitly measure social capital at the individual level.[4]  Here is the ideal-typical situation in which individuals discover and use social capital: a group of people become connected via a certain kind of relations, and regardless of the exact nature of their relations, the members find that something possessed or produced by the group either itself is a valuable asset or can help them acquire other desirable benefits.

Three things in this situation are recognized as social capital, which overlap on top of each other: [5]

  • group membership
  • features of the relationship
  • resources under the control of the group or dependent on the existence of the group.

At the core of social capital is trust with three crucial elements:[6]

  • Repeat exposure to others tends to lead to greater confidence that others can be trusted (assuming that parties respect conditions 2 and 3 below);
  • The parties are honest in their communications; and
  • The parties follow through on the commitments they make.

Individual social capital is defined by three dimensions: [7]

  • the (number of) connections in the individual social network
  • the resources these connections give access to
  • the availability of these resources from alters to the individual, of which the willingness of alters is a major component.

On this basis, we define an individual’s social capital here as: [8]

The collection of resources owned by the members of an individual’s personal social network, which may become available to the individual as a result of the history of these relationships.  

Connect with Your Calling is found in connections, in networks that bring forth relationships that make the whole community stronger.  

Advertisements