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A global community online

Pearltrees – the place to collect, organize and share everything you do on the web – includes P2P and crowdfunding, all your banking needs, social investment, news items

Published on 2 Apr 2012 by pearltrees A place to collect, organize and share everything you like on the web

The Shared Societies Project (SSP) is a Club of Madrid global initiative that provides leaders with greater understanding of the benefits of social cohesion, as well as the incentives and means to advance it. The project supports democratic development through promoting leadership for dialogue, diversity and social cohesion.

…. A ‘shared society’ is a socially cohesive society. It is stable, safe. It is where all those living there feel at home. It respects everyone’s dignity and human rights while providing every individual with equal opportunity. It is tolerant. It respects diversity. A shared society is constructed and nurtured through strong political leadership.

In a shared society, people hold an equal capacity to participate in, and benefit from, economic, political and social opportunities regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, language, and other attributes, and where, as a consequence, relations between groups are peaceful.


Social capital

The power of 'community governance' has been stressed by many philosophers from Antiquity to the 18th century, from Aristotle to Thomas Aquinas and Edmund Burke (Bowles and Gintis, 2002[6]).

…. social capital is often linked to the success of democracy and political involvement. Robert D. Putnam, in his book Bowling Alone makes the argument that social capital is linked to the recent decline in American political participation.[23]

…. . Putnam[29] suggested that social capital would facilitate co-operation and mutually supportive relations in communities and nations and would therefore be a valuable means of combating many of the social disorders inherent in modern societies, for example crime.

James Coleman defined social capital functionally as “...anything that facilitates individual or collective action, generated by networks of relationships, reciprocity, trust, and social norms. “.[19]

According to Robert Putnam, social capital "refers to the collective value of all 'social networks' and the inclinations that arise from these networks to do things for each other."[1] According to Putnam and his followers, social capital is a key component to building and maintaining democracy.

…..According to such authors as Walzer, Alessandrini, Newtown, Stolle and Rochon, Foley and Edwards, and Walters, it is through civil society, or more accurately, the third sector, that individuals are able to establish and maintain relational networks. These voluntary associations also connect people with each other, build trust and reciprocity through informal, loosely structured associations, and consolidate society through altruism without obligation. It is "this range of activities, services and associations produced by... civil society"[20] that constitutes the sources of social capital.

….  Onyx[54] describes how social capital depends on an already functioning community.

The idea that creating social capital (i.e., creating networks) will strengthen civil society underlies current Australian social policy aimed at bridging deepening social divisions. The goal is to reintegrate those marginalised from the rewards of the economic system into "the community". However, according to Onyx (2000), while the explicit aim of this policy is inclusion, its effects are exclusionary.

Foley and Edwards[55] believe that "political systems...are important determinants of both the character of civil society and of the uses to which whatever social capital exists might be put".[19] Alessandrini agrees, saying, "in Australia in particular, neo-liberalism has been recast as economic rationalism and identified by several theorists and commentators as a danger to society at large because of the use to which they are putting social capital to work".[20]


…. Coleman indicated that social capital eventually led to the creation of human capital for the future generation.[96] Human capital, a private resource, could be accessed through what the previous generation accumulated through social capital. Field suggested that such a process could lead to the very inequality social capital attempts to resolve.[96]

… If, in the case of education, he uses these resources to better his educational outcomes, thereby enabling him to become socially mobile, he effectively has worked to reiterate and reproduce the stratification of society, as social capital has done little to alleviate the system as a whole. This may be one negative aspect of social capital, but seems to be an inevitable one in and of itself, as are all forms of capital.[citation needed]

This page was last modified on 22 May 2012 at 13:20.


The world bank’s description of social capital fails to acknowledge the fairly common understanding of social capital as the sum of an individual’s relationships and connections, which grant or deny priveleges whithin society, thereby ignoring the disparity between the downtrodden and the elite,and instead suggest that horizontal ties are needed to give communities a sense of identity and common purpose”, and that these ties can help to “transcend various social divides”.

Thus this report narrowly defines social capital purely in terms of outcomes, which are said to result from collectivist action, and belies a quintessentially communitarian ideology:

“Social capital refers to the institutions, relationships, and norms that shape the quality and quantity of a society's social interactions. Increasing evidence shows that social cohesion is critical for societies to prosper economically and for development to be sustainable. Social capital is not just the sum of the institutions which underpin a society – it is the glue that holds them together.”

…. The collectivist action is not seen as a grassroots expression of citizen empowerment, but as the current purported interaction of citizens working in unison with corporations and government:

The broadest and most encompassing view of social capital includes the social and political environment that shapes social structure and enables norms to develop. …… In short, economic and social development thrives when representatives of the state, the corporate sector, and civil society create forums in and through which they can identify and pursue common goals.”

In fact, the article goes on to frame social capital in terms of the level of consensus and trust that exist in a village or country, and linking it directly to economic success.


In Bowling Alone: America's Declining Social Capital (1995) Putnam surveys the decline of "social capital" in the United States of America since 1950. He has described the reduction in all the forms of in-person social intercourse upon which Americans used to found, educate, and enrich the fabric of their social lives. He believes this undermines the active civil engagement which a strong democracy requires from its citizens.


A new concept came along, 'social capital', and it revolutionised the way people are governed and communities are planned. The only trouble is's completely wrong. That is the contention of sociologist Ben Fine. He claims that 'social capital' is part of a mindset that sees everything as quantifiable assets akin to money or commercial resources. Are communities, neighbourhoods and the people more complicated than that? Laurie Taylor discusses an idea which has had a huge impact on social science and beyond, and asks whether it is time to abandon the assumption that people have social qualities that can be weighed and measured. David Halpern from the Institute for Government defends the concept.


Fine has researched and written on social capital since its take-off in the 1990s, which he deplores as a “degradation” of social capital theory in the social sciences. (He also criticized the World Bank’s use of the term.) He also details the ridiculous over-application of the term, to encompass ever broader effects:

“The most recently covered literature, though, has excelled itself in the bejesus stakes. Social capital has been tied to each of the following: whether second homes solicit keen neighbourliness or shunned newcomers (Gallent 2007); the colour of skin: the lighter it is the better you get on, especially with marriage prospects (Smith1995 and Hunter 2002); the language you speak, with Pomerantz(2002) locating Spanish as a form of economic and social capital,since it serves as a marker for status in an increasingly bilingual United States rather than as a genuine gain of linguistic competence; in preventing deforestation (DesRoches et al. 2007); accruing gains from festivals (Arcodia and Whitford 2007), as well as whether casinos are good or bad for the community (Griswold and Nichols2006; Steffensmeier and Ulmer 2006 – presumably there will be a London Olympics and social capital study before long); and,my current leader of the pack, pets as a source of social capital(L. Wood et al. 2005 and 2007). Further, as I report across the literature on the reputed benefits for health from social capital (and so for those who network with me in the campaign against social capital), it will improve mental and self-reported health, health at work, life satisfaction and well-being, and children’s health; and lower risk of violence, accidents, suicide, coronary heart disease, cancer, teen pregnancy and ‘risky’ and pre-marital sexual activity, fatalism, being overweight, chances of drug (ab)use (apart fromcannabis!) and addiction (but enhance  successful withdrawal), being a depressed mother of young children, low birth weight of children, excessive alcohol consumption, and so on. Social capital is truly a wonder drug.”


For Johnston and Percy-Smith, both using and deploring metaphor,

“[s]ocial capital is the contemporary equivalent of the philosopher’s stone. Just as alchemists pursued the secrets of turning base metal into gold, academics, policy makers and politicians have allegedly unpacked the mysteries of effective communities and collectivities… However, we would argue that the social capital debate lacks the level of minimal agreement about the meaning of the key operational concept to sustain meaningful debate and dialogue. Indeed, the status of social capital as a concept should more accurately be characterised as chaotic, while at times it operates as little more than a warm metaphor or a vaguely suggestive heuristic device.” (2003, p.332)



…. the history of social capital isa fairy tale, pure invention. In other words, people who have referenced something akin to social capital have been resurrected and their work referenced much later on, as if they were somehow pioneers of the field.




There is, then, a sense in which social capital borders on the utopian in its vision of individuals, communities and politics. ForAvis (2002, p.315), ‘social capital … has a number of weasel-likequalities’. He suggests that, in the face of the knowledge economy,Third Wayism is an amalgam of post-Fordism, collective intelligenceand learning (all also weasels), and has a radical content and appealin its democratic objectives. But it is limited, because it ‘seeks to create a moral community organised around a settlement based upon a collective intelligence, a settlement that would apparently reconcile the conflicting interests of a range of constituents – labour, capital, ecological movements and so on – enabling economic competitiveness’ (p.321), with social capital (and Third Wayism)conveniently forgetting to suit the systemic dependence of capitalism upon extraction of profitability.


International NGOs as global institutions: using social capital to impact multinational enterprises and governments, Hildy Teegen


Social Networks – Kevin Roebuck

Social network analysis, including city networks and entrepeneur networks (lots of references here for further research ideas)


linking Wetopia to social capital, plus lots of useful links eg Branston, K., & Bush, L. (2010).

The nature of online social good networks and their impact on non-profit organisations and users. PRism, 7(2).


Communitarian Approach to Social Capital Theory

Woolcock and Narayan (2000, p. 229) identified that the communitarian perspective equates social capital with such local organizations as clubs, associations, and civic groups. The communitarian approach was pioneered by Putnam (1993, 1995) and by Fukuyama (1995, 1997). Communitarians, who look at the number and density of these groups in a given community, hold that social capital is inherently good, that more is better, and that its presence always has a positive effect on a community's welfare. This approach assumes that communities are homogenous entities that automatically include and benefit all members and as such do not make the important distinction between productive social capital and perverse social capital. Narayan and Nyamwaya (1996) found evidence from the developing world that demonstrates that high levels of social solidarity or informal groups does not necessarily lead to economic prosperity (cited in Woolcock and Narayan 2000, p. 230).



People with better social capital:

• Find better jobs more quickly

• Are more likely to be promoted early

• Close deals faster

• Receive larger bonuses

• Enhance the performance of their teams

• Help their teams reach their goals more rapidly

• Perform better as project managers

• Help their teams generate more creative solutions

• Increase output from their R&D teams

• Coordinate projects more effectively

• Learn more about the firm’s environment and marketplace

• Receive higher performance evaluations.


Social Capital: the Key to Success for the 21st

Century Organization, by Valdis Krebs,

IHRIM Journal Volume XII, Number 5 2008 39

Organizations with better connections in the network of industry alliances and joint ventures report higher patent outputs,a higher probability of innovation, and higher earnings and chances of survival in rapidly innovating industries. Social capital, within the firm and across the firm’s border to other firms, seems to be a prerequisite for organizational learning, adaptability

and agility.


Business bookshelf: Why top performers struggle

In 'Chasing Stars,' a meticulous study of Wall Street analysts, Boris Groysberg finds that even for the brightest, changing jobs can throw cold water on a hot career.

May 23, 2010|By Stefan Stern


Boris Groysberg would probably say yes. His new book, "Chasing Stars," is a meticulous study of the performance of Wall Street analysts. It asks the key question: Is the success of individual "star" employees transferable to other businesses?

In other words, is it the team or institution that is key to the high performance, or does it mainly come down to the individual concerned?


Groysberg's data were unequivocal. "Star equity analysts who switched employers paid a high price for jumping ship," he writes. "Overall, their job performance plunged sharply and continued to suffer for at least five years after moving to a new firm."

Analysts' skills are not as portable as all that, it turned out.

What people leave behind, Groysberg argues, are "the capabilities of the old firm and the practiced, seamless fit between their own skills and the resources of the company … an analyst who left a firm where he or she achieved stardom lost access to colleagues, teammates and internal networks that can take years to develop … new and unfamiliar ways of doing things took the place of routines and procedures and systems that over time had become second nature."

…..  . In the high-pressure world of knowledge workers, teams matter more than individuals. And few individuals should ever delude themselves that their great achievements are down to them alone.

Stefan Stern is a columnist for the Financial Times of London, in which this review first appeared.


The term 'social investment state' was coined by Anthony Giddens in his articulation of the third way. The guideline, he argues, ‘is investment in human capital wherever possible, rather than direct provision of economic maintenance. In place of the welfare state we should put the social investment state’ (1998: 117, emphasis in original). The previous year the OECD commented that ‘by shifting from a social expenditure to a social investment perspective, it is expected that considerable progress can be made in transforming the welfare state’ (1997: 14, quoted in Jenson and Saint-Martin, 2001). An earlier template can be found in the report of the Commission on Social Justice3. The central proposition underlying its vision of an ‘Investors’ Britain’ was that ‘it is through investment that economic and social policy are inextricably linked’. ‘High investment – in skills, research, technology, childcare and community development – is the last and first step’ in a ‘virtuous circle of sustainable growth’ (Commission on Social Justice, 1994: 97, 103).


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