Social Capital

In: Social Issues

Submitted By Pouri
Words 1346
Pages 6
OECD Insights: Human Capital

What is social capital?
The concept of social capital became fashionable only relatively recently, but the term has been in use for almost a century while the ideas behind it go back further still. “Social capital” may first have appeared in a book published in 1916 in the United States that discussed how neighbours could work together to oversee schools.
Author Lyda Hanifan referred to social capital as “those tangible assets [that] count for most in the daily lives of people: namely goodwill, fellowship, sympathy, and social intercourse among the individuals and families who make up a social unit”.
That gives some sense of what’s meant by social capital, although today it would be hard to come up with a single definition that satisfied everyone. For the sake of simplicity, however, we can think of social capital as the links, shared values and understandings in society that enable individuals and groups to trust each other and so work together.
In recent years, the term entered the popular imagination with the publication in 2000 of Robert Putnam’s bestseller, Bowling Alone:
The Collapse and Revival of American Community. Putnam argued that while Americans have become wealthier their sense of community has withered. Cities and traditional suburbs have given way to
“edge cities” and “exurbs” – vast, anonymous places where people sleep and work and do little else. As people spend more and more time in the office, commuting to work and watching TV alone, there’s less time for joining community groups and voluntary organisations, and socialising with neighbours, friends and even family.
To demonstrate this decline, Putnam looked at the way Americans play 10-pin bowling, a sport with a big following in the
United States. He found that although bowling has never been bigger, Americans are no longer competing against…...

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