Social Capital Literature Review

6 June 2016

The theory of social capital is one of the most rapidly developing social science research fields in the last 20 years. In the dictionary of classical economics, capital, mainly physical capital, is considered to be a production concept of land, labor and entrepreneurial factors side by side. In the 1980s, since the American sociologist James Coleman first introduced the word “ Social Capital”, it had been widely applied gradually and is now considered as a ground contribution. The existing literature has evolved in-depth study in this theory in terms of basic concepts, measurement methods, and social economic performance of different angles. Although, there are still differences in understanding the theory, it has been widely accepted that the concept of social capital contains the core of network resources, mutual trust and cooperation behaviors. Speaking of empirical studies, most of the literature support the hypotheses theory that social capital has a positive effect on social economy. Meanwhile, there are many studies have some criticism on existing empirical methods and conclusions. This paper will research the relevant results and historical literature review and make a summative comment.

1. Social Capital: Concepts, Characteristics and Classification The concept of social capital can be traced to the time when Hanifan first formally proposed, thereafter, the concept began to be popular when the famous sociologist J.Coleman published “ Social Capital in the Creation of Human Capital ” in 1988.(Woolcock, 2000). Having been through continuous development and expansion in various disciplines, social capital becomes the most powerful social science and popular areas of research. (Durlauf&Fafchamps, 2003). However, it is precisely because of the interdisciplinary characteristics of this concept that scholars in the different field have not reached a consensus on its connotation and extension. In order to clearly sort out the concept of social capital, I will review the connotations conferred by different scholars. Here are some of the most influential definitions. Author

Social Capital Literature Review Essay Example

According to these definitions, it is not hard to see that different scholars define the concept of social capital in various aspects like network organization, values and mutual trust, etc. However, some scholars believe that emphasizing only good results of social capital is not appropriate, and they have made more neutral definition. For example, Irene van Staveren defines social capital as a reflection of social relations in a shared commitment to social values. This commitment may increase or limit social dynamic efficiency. From the classification point of view, there are mainly two kinds of methods that are recently popular. The first method talks about the perspective of macro and micro. Macro level is primarily covering the social organization and system architecture aspects, such as laws and regulations, decentralization level, the political system and democratic participation in the policymaking process. (Krishna&Shrader, 1999) Next to that, micro level mainly refers to organizations and social network which contribute to the development, and it also includes values and code of conduct embedded in these networks.

The second point of view divides social capital into cognitive social capital and structural social capital. The former includes subjective and intangible factors, such as commonly accepted attitude, trust and solidarity while the latter mainly refers to the objective and specific organizations and networks, including spontaneous community organization, institutions and various clubs. Further, Woolcock and Narayan classify social capital in another way. They divide it into bonding social capital, bridging social capital and linking social capital. They use bonding social capital to describe a more close relationship between people, like the relationship between family members and the same race. Meanwhile. Bridging social capital means the relationship between people of different social status and in different racial and ethnic groups. Linking social capital refers to social relations between organizations and power hierarchy. (Woolcock&Narayan, 2000) 2.The measurement of social capital

Since there are huge differences between various definitions of social capital, it is hard to carry out a convincing social capital. However, from the current study of the overall point of view, there are two main ways. The first one is to measure the number of members in a given an association or a community in order to see its level of social capital. The second method is the direct investigation of the level of trust and participation in decision-making process within a given society or community. The level of social trust in different countries

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