Should we invest in social capital?

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I assume that you are talking about social capital in the sense of social networks that make it easier for people to interact with one another.

If that is the definition of social capital, then I think that it is premature for the government, at least, to spend money to create it.  I have read pieces that argue that social capital is a good thing for businesses to invest in.  These pieces have argued that more connections between employees in a company lead to greater productivity.

I would say that this is an area in which we should let businesses invest if they like.  If their experiences show that social capital can have positive results, then it would be time for government to invest in it.

krishna-agrawala's profile pic

krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

According to Lin (2001), social capital are capital resources possessed by individuals that are accessed through individuals social connections. These are contrasted with personal resources that include ownership of material goods as well as symbolic goods like university degrees. He believes that the social resources can be borrowed. For example one can borrow a friend's car or ask him to put in a good word for you, to help you get a contract. The potential usefulness of these social resources far outweigh that of personal resources. Thus we can see that we should definitely put in efforts to invest in social capital.


Lin, N. 2001, Social Capital: A Theory of Social Structure, Cambridge University Press, New York

russelsithli's profile pic

russelsithli | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

I get your point. Thank you for that idea. Social capital creates a connection between people, groups and collectivities within the society. This involves not only the government but also the business sector, non-government organizations and the individuals. In short, it is an interaction of the political, economic and social realm. By investing, I don't mean literally putting in capital or money (though this might come along the way), by investing I meant, promoting it, disseminating it and acting on it. Would not it be more advantageous to the government if every member of the society actively participates in the process? I am envisioning participatory governance.

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