The Meaning of Social Capital and its Link to Collective Action
HANDBOOK ON SOCIAL CAPITAL, Gert T. Svendsen and Gunnar L. Svendsen, ed., Edward Elgar, 2008
36 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2011
Date Written: October 1, 2007
The social capital approach takes these factors seriously as causes of behavior and collective social outcomes. The social capital approach does this in ways that are consistent with continued and lively development of neoclassical economics and rational choice approaches. In sum, the social capital approach improves the knowledge of macro political and economic phenomena by expanding the factors to be incorporated in such knowledge and by constructing richer causality among those factors, and by achieving these without dismissing the insights from neoclassical economics and rational choice theories.
Abundant, and often valid, criticisms of the concept have also levied against it (Arrow 1999; Solow 1999; Fine 2001; Durlauf 2002 - to name a few). Solow notes that much of the social capital research is plagued by 'vague ideas' and 'casual empiricism.' Academic research can be afflicted by fads and fashions just as much as any other field. We believe, however, that the concept of social capital can be defined carefully. It is a useful concept that should take its place alongside physical and human capital as core concepts of great usefulness to the social sciences.
Keywords: social capital, collective action, behavior
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