What Is Social Capital

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What is social capital? Why is it important for a society?

The sociological concept of social capital is developed in conjunction with the concepts of human capital and physical capital which has clear distinctions among them to explain theory of social relations (Jackman and Miller, 1998). Unlike human capital and physical capital which has clear and united explanation, social capital has no unified and undisputed definition due to its weak palpability as it comes “from changes in the relations among individuals that facilitate action” (Jackman and Miller, 1998). Be that as it may, we can still find they commonly define social capital as “the value of social networks, bonding similar people and bridging between diverse people, with norms of reciprocity” (Social Capital Research, 2012). In another words, social capital is a set of informal norms and values shared among members of a group that permits them to cooperate with one another. In most cases, social capital centers around “networks of relationships, reciprocity, trust, and social norms” - anything that facilitates manner of action for betterment (Social Capital Research, 2012); thereby some examples of social capitals includes trust towards the government, trust between citizens and trust between states.

Social capital is important as it has great impact on social stability and economic development. To begin with, social stability bases heavily on social cohesion, which refers to “the extent of connectedness and solidarity among groups in society” according to the Population Health PhD programme of the University of Ottawa (2007), is closely linked with social capital.  Dayton-Johnson (2003) has explained that social cohesion is “the stock of past social capital investment.” It enables people to have a sense that they are engaged in a common enterprise, facing shared challenges and feeling that they are the members of the same community (Judith Maxwell, 1986). In this sense, whenever there is any...
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