Two Decades of Social Capital: Where is this ConceptGoing?
Ignacio Macedo Castillejos, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
Abstract:After20yearsthatsocialcapitalwasconceptualised,thecurrentdevelopmentofthisconcept seems to be ambiguous. Hence, this paper addresses the following research questions: Does social capitalhasachievedacommonunderstandingamongscholarsandpractitioners?Howisthisconcept being used among scholars to address development issues? Is it possible to assert that the concept of socialcapitalisconsolidatedasanalyticalframework?Thus,theaimofthisworkistoknowthecurrent statesocialcapitalasanalyticalframeworktoaddressdevelopmentissues.Specically,itisattempted to know the way that social scientists understand and apply the concept of social capital. The author nds out how scholars and policy analysts identify social capital, measure social capital, promote thecreation of social capital, and link the concept to different theoretical frameworks. In order to do this,it was carefully examined the most referenced research articles on social capital. The main conclusionis that effective interdisciplinary research based on social capital concept requires a well dened theoretical framework. Therefore, it is necessary to differentiate explicitly Bourdieu, Coleman and Putnam’s perspectives. It is not desirable to continue in the anarchical way that has followed the de-velopment of this concept over the last 20 years. Just as physical capital is clearly associated to spe-cic characteristics of tools and machines; or human capital is associated to academic credentialsandabilities;socialcapitalmustbespeciedinasimilarway.Itiscrucialtocreatebasic“standards”or “codes” of understanding between scholars of different areas or with different backgrounds. Thus,it is necessary to stop using social capital in the multiples ways it has being used.
Keywords: Social Capital, Coleman, Bourdieu, Putnam, Social Research, Institutional Economics,Social Networks, Development Studies
1980’s arose the concept of
on account of theoretical de-velopments of Pierre Bourdieu (1986) and James Coleman (1988). At the beginning of 1990’s this concept became popular due to the work of Robert Putnam (1993). Today
concept has many followers around the world –including internationalorganizations such as United Nations and The World Bank. However, at the same time ithasmanydetractorswhohavestronglyarguedabouttheweaknessesandboundariesof
to address development issues. Over twenty years, social scientist have adapted theconcept of
–according to their views and necessities—to several theoreticalframeworks in anthropology, sociology, political science and economics. This has causedthe existence of several denitions of
as well as several interpretations.After 20 years that
was conceptualised, the current development of thisconceptseemstobeambiguous.Hence,thispaperaddressesthefollowingresearchquestions:Doessocialcapitalhasachievedacommonunderstandingamongscholarsandpractitioners?Howisthisconceptbeingusedamongscholarstoaddressdevelopmentissues?Isitpossible
The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social SciencesVolume 4, Number 1, 2009, http://www.SocialSciences-Journal.com, ISSN 1833-1882
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