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Promotion of social capital1
The focus of attention in the past few years has been social capital, along with civil society and sustainable
community development. This short article will address social capital in the light of responding to three questions:
Why has interest in social capital suddenly increased in the past few years?, What do social capital, civil
society, values and practice of each decent community have in common? and How to respond to new
The focus of modern society debates is the issue of institutional reforms, and the core of institutional reforms are
social values of organization and cooperation. According to Peter Drucker, modern societies are "societies of
organizations" because emphasis is not so much on knowledge and information but on applying knowledge and
information for the benefit of the community. Peter Senge says at one point that when people are going through
times of profound changes, they need to realize them within the community, that is, a change cannot be realized
in isolation.
We shall list several more definitions of social capital which basically provide the answer to the questions asked.
According to James Coleman, community social capital is the critical ingredient which makes human capital
(knowledge and skills) effective. According to Coleman, social capital is defined through its functions. Social
capital is not an entity but a variety of different entities sharing two elements: as a whole, it consists of certain
aspects of social structure and it facilitates certain actions of social structure participants. As well as other
forms of capital, social capital is productive because it enables achievement of certain goals, otherwise
impossible. As opposed to other forms of capital, it is inseparable from the structure of social relations actors.
Other important views of social capital are the following:
• Social capital is a term used to depict accumulation of trust, that is, to depict expectations regarding
mutual obligations and norms.
• Social capital is hereditary in the structure of relations among individuals, that is, social capital is
something that can be represented as a function of interaction between two or more individuals.
• Some essential functions of social capital include creating obligations and expectations, its informative
potential, defining norms and creating effective sanctions and managing relations between authorities,
thus providing appropriate social organization.
• Social capital is significant in providing an organizational framework which enables things to
happen. Without developed social capital things would not happen or expenses would be much higher.
Onyx and Bulen have identified several key characteristics which facilitate the effort to measure social capital.
They are:
• Participation in the local community
• Feeling of trust and safety
• Relations among neighbours

1 Contribution of the NGO »European Movement in Smederevska Palanka« for the 10th number of newsletter of the project "

"Promotion of Pluralism by Strengthening NGOs and The Civil Society In Serbia" in partnership with NGO »European Perspective«
from Greece as main applicant (project B7-702/2001/0872, European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights, European Commission).
More information on the web site
Prepared by Milan Milošević, Master of Systemology and Logistics
• Relations with friends and family
• Tolerance of differences
• Life values
• Business relations
Based on the above said, we can conclude that promotion of community social capital is important because it
enables the community to utilize other forms of capital more successfully and especially the accrued human capital.
Through the promotion of social capital we:
• promote civic participation in social affairs;
• build trust and enhance the feeling of safety in the community;
• improve relations between neighbours, with friends, family and business associates;
• build tolerance of differences as potential for numerous achievements in private, social and
business life of each community member;
• promote positive life values.
We can promote social capital:
1. on individual level (activities of various volunteer organizations build mutual trust and facilitate involvement
of various social groups - social capital for bridging differences. Early experiences in volunteering or other forms of
association are directly connected to participation in community social life later on);
2. on local community level (various activities through which community members participate in community
social life);
3. on national level (civic education can help in gaining knowledge on how to become involved in the
community and other social activities, thus creating the basis for connecting and bridging social capital of
community members).

• Social Capital: Presentation to the European Commission Conference on Social and Human Capital
in the Knowledge Society. Brussels, 28th-29th October 2002
• Martin Stewart-Weeks: Promoting Social Capital, Albany Consulting Group.

Promotion of social capital