Social Capital: A Review from an Ethics Perspective
17 Pages Posted: 10 Dec 2013
Date Written: January 2014
Social capital has as its key element the value of social relationships to generate positive outcomes, both for the key parties involved and for wider society. Some authors have noted that social capital nevertheless has a dark side. There is a moral element to such a conceptualisation, yet there is scarce discussion of ethics within the social capital literature. In this paper ethical theory is applied to four traditions or approaches to economic social capital: neo‐capitalism; network/reputation; neo‐Tocquevellian; and development. Each is considered in detail and subject to ethical analysis by the application of utilitarianism, Kantianism, justice and rights, and ethic of care. Accordingly, the assumption that social capital is either value‐neutral or a force for good is critiqued, and a framework for understanding social capital from an ethics perspective is presented.
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