Social capital

Social capital is a sociological concept which refers to the value of social relations and the role of cooperation and confidence to achieve positive outcomes. The term refers to the value one can get from their social ties. For example, newly arrived immigrants can make use of their social ties to established migrants to acquire jobs they may otherwise have trouble getting (e.g., because of lack of knowledge of language). Studies show that there a positive relationship between social capital and the intensity of social network use. In sociology, social capital is the expected collective or economic benefits derived from the preferential treatment and cooperation between individuals and groups. Although different social sciences emphasize different aspects of social capital, they tend to share the core idea "that social networks have value". Just as a screwdriver (physical capital) or a university education (cultural capital or human capital) can increase productivity (both individual and collective), so do social contacts affect the productivity of individuals and groups. The term 'social capital' was in occasional use from about 1890, but only became widely used in the late 1990s. In the first half of the 19th century, Alexis de Tocqueville had observations about American life that seemed to outline and define social capital. He observed that Americans were prone to meeting at as many gatherings as possible to discuss all possible issues of state, economics, or the world that could be witnessed. The high levels of transparency caused greater participation from the people and thus allowed for democracy to work better. L. J. Hanifan's 1916 article regarding local support for rural schools is one of the first occurrences of the term "social capital" in reference to social cohesion and personal investment in the community. In defining the

oncept, Hanifan contrasts social capital with material goods by defining it as: "I do not refer to real estate, or to personal property or to cold cash, but rather to that in life which tends to make these tangible substances count for most in the daily lives of people, namely, goodwill, fellowship, mutual sympathy and social intercourse among a group of individuals and families who make up a social unitů If he may come into contact with his neighbor, and they with other neighbors, there will be an accumulation of social capital, which may immediately satisfy his social needs and which may bear a social potentiality sufficient to the substantial improvement of living conditions in the whole community. The community as a whole will benefit by the cooperation of all its parts, while the individual will find in his associations the advantages of the help, the sympathy, and the fellowship of his neighbors (pp. 130-131)." Jane Jacobs used the term early in the 1960s. Although she did not explicitly define the term social capital her usage referred to the value of networks. Political scientist Robert Salisbury advanced the term as a critical component of interest group formation in his 1969 article "An Exchange Theory of Interest Groups" in the Midwest Journal of Political Science. Sociologist Pierre Bourdieu used the term in 1972 in his Outline of a Theory of Practice, and clarified the term some years later in contrast to cultural, economic, and symbolic capital. Sociologists James Coleman, Barry Wellman and Scot Wortley adopted Glenn Loury's 1977 definition in developing and popularising the concept. In the late 1990s the concept gained popularity, serving as the focus of a World Bank research programme and the subject of several mainstream books, including Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone and Putnam and Lewis Feldstein's Better Together.