Social Capital

Social capital is formed in the bonds between actors. Bourdieu (1986, p. 248) first defined social capital as “the aggregate of the actual or potential resources which are linked to possession of a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition ... which provides each of its members with the backing of collectively-owned capital.”


Bonding social capital: Characterized by strong bonds (or “social glue”), for example, among family members or among members of an ethnic group.

Bridging social capital: Characterized by weaker, less dense, but more crosscutting ties (“social oil”), for example, between business associates, acquaintances, friends from different ethnic groups, friends of friends, etc.

Linking social capital: Characterized by connections between those with different levels of power or social status, for example, links between the political elite and the general public, or between individuals from different classes.

Social capital has its roots in social exchange theory and the notion that social networks are formed through the aggregated behaviors of individuals and actor/ environment relations. Eric Lesser (2000) writes of the differences in types of social capital, one being egocentric and based on the connections between individual actors; and the other being sociocentric and based primarily on measures in the capacity to access large amounts of information and relationships, such as a liaison between two departments, agencies, or organizations. Egocentric social capital is based on prestige and high status in a stratified social structure as a result of association, identification, alliance with, or appropriation by others. Sociocentric social capital is based in the communities of practice that emerge as groups share information and build networks that lend themselves to mobilizing assets. Social capital has been linked to social and organizational learning (Lesser and Prusak, 2000) and knowledge transfer, suggesting that sociocentric social capital is strongly tied to the development of knowledge capital.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >