Interaction enables people to build communities, to commit themselves to each other, social mobility definition pdf to knit the social fabric. The concept of social capital contends that building or rebuilding community and trust requires face-to-face encounters. However, there can also be a significant downside. Social capital is defined by its function.
The three thinkers that most commentators highlight in terms of developing a theoretical appreciation of social capital are Pierre Bourdieu, James Coleman and Robert Putnam. Bourdieu wrote from within a broadly Marxist framework. He began by distinguishing between three forms of capital: economic, cultural and social. In other words, he argued that those living in marginalized communities or who were members of the working class could also benefit from its possession.
It is interesting to compare Coleman’s and Bourdieu’s contributions to thinking about social capital. Coleman’s view is more nuanced in that he discerns the value of connections for all actors, individual and collective, privileged and disadvantaged. Robert Putnam’s ability to draw upon a wide range of theory, to synthesize and write for a wider audience, and to catch the public mood in the United States would have been enough to encourage a wider embrace of the notion of social capital. People often might be better off if they cooperate, with each doing her share. Second, social capital greases the wheels that allow communities to advance smoothly. When people lack connection to others, they are unable to test the veracity of their own views, whether in the give or take of casual conversation or in more formal deliberation.
Social capital also operates through psychological and biological processes to improve individual’s lives. Community connectedness is not just about warm fuzzy tales of civic triumph. In measurable and well-documented ways, social capital makes an enormous difference to our lives. His conclusion that that the possession of social capital held great significance in terms of human wellbeing struck a chord. Bowling Alone failed to make a proper distinction between different types of social capital. Bonding social capital which denotes ties between people in similar situations, such as immediate family, close friends and neighbours.
Bridging social capital, which encompasses more distant ties of like persons, such as loose friendships and workmates. Linking social capital, which reaches out to unlike people in dissimilar situations, such as those who are entirely outside of the community, thus enabling members to leverage a far wider range of resources than are available in the community. Putnam suggested that the former may be more inward looking and have a tendency to reinforce exclusive identities and homogeneous groups. Bonding social capital constitutes a kind of sociological superglue, whereas bridging social capital provides a sociological WD-40. However, Putnam did not really look at linking social capital nor did he come to grips with the implications of different forms of social capital i.
The decline of social capital in the USA Putnam demonstrated that on a range of indicators of civic engagement including voting, political participation, newspaper readership, and participation in local associations that there were serious grounds for concern. It appeared that America’s social capital was in decline. Voting, political knowledge, political trust, and grassroots political activism are all down. Americans sign 30 per cent fewer petitions and are 40 per cent less likely to join a consumer boycott, as compared to just a decade or two ago. The declines are equally visible in non-political community life: membership and activity in all sorts of local clubs and civic and religious organizations have been falling at an accelerating pace. Virtually all leisure activities that involve doing something with someone else, from playing volleyball to playing chamber music, are declining. Although Americans are more tolerant of one another than were previous generations, they trust one another less.