Understanding Notions of Social Capital

Understanding Notions of Social Capital
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By Binish Qadri

Social capital theories, by and large, start with the notion of social capital, which has great bearing upon the historical advancement of the concept. That is why what is more imperative is a considerate knowledge of the evolution of the concept, which has deep origins in economics and sociology. Prior to 1980s, the term social capital was not popular at all because the economists and sociologists of that time had definitional problems with the term which got compounded with every passing day in the sense that there was widespread discussion over whether social capital is actually capital. The notion of social capital is still in its growing stages. The operational working of the term social capital is catching attention of the economists and sociologists in the contemporary times as numerous research studies put on faulty conceptualizations. The problem with these studies is that they did not consider the exceedingly situation specific nature of social capital.
Social capital even though an old notion, it has been coined in recent times (Bankston and Zhou 2002). It is related to civil society and social linkages (Adam and Roncevic 2003). Bourdieu, Coleman and Putnam are credited with modern improvement of the concept. In its comprehensive form, social capital refers to the social ties between people that facilitate productive and fruitful outcomes (Szreter 2000). It encompasses those frameworks of social trust, customs, and networks that people can draw upon to resolve collective problems and maximize social welfare. That is to say that it provides a solution for social problems like unemployment, poverty, malnutrition, dowry system, corruption and ineffective government/bad governance. It is a connecting link between sociology and economics (Adam and Roncevic 2003). The concept is used in description of the importance of public participation in improving learning outcomes and educational performance in general and school performance in particular. If a person interacts with his fellow being, and they interact with other fellows, it will result into accumulation of social capital, which may instantaneously satisfy his social needs and maximize social welfare or may substantially improve the living conditions in the whole community. The importance of social capital lies in the fact that it integrates several sociological notions in the form of social cohesion, integration, social support, social cooperation and social welfare (Requena, 2003As cited by Claridge, 2004). And, the actual power of theories and treatise on social capital lies in the combination of large level sociological-historical frameworks with micro-level causal frameworks.
Social capital augments Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in an economy and improves labour market, (Kawachi et al., 1999 As cited by Claridge, 2004). It is a significant component of years of schooling (Aldridge et al., 2003 As cited by Claridge, 2004), merit goods in general and public health in particular (Coulthard et al., 2001As cited by Claridge, 2004), public administration, business cycles and political economy of a country. In fact, economic and political performance of a country is highly dependent upon the nature and type of social capital. Better the nature and type of social capital,, better will be the economic and political performance of a country and vice versa.
Complementarity is a state where better-quality production of one good or service builds up demand for the second good or service. There is a complementarity between physical capital and social capital because the construction of better physical capital will build up demand for better social capital and vice versa. Physical capital in the contemporary times, which is becoming more and more multidimensional and therefore complex, requires the holdup of a better social capital. In addition, there is two-way relationship between physical capital and social capital. Physical capital affects social capital and social capital affects physical capital. The better interaction between physical capital and social capital will maximize social advantage and vice versa. Development which is all-encompassing and comprehensive and therefore, sustainable requires good mix of physical capital and social capital.
An important contribution to social capital and its related theories must be in the form of appraisal of contemporary social capital modeling and theory building together with the measurements to social capital, the stages and points at which it is positioned, the contributing factors of social capital, the kinds and styles of social capital, the importance and pros and cons of social capital. Furthermore, in order to maximize social welfare the concerned authorities must first aim and then work at bringing a good mix of physical capital and social capital. But, such a good mix is possible only and only if there is conceptual clarity between the two terms. Once there is conceptual precision in physical capital and social capital, we can expect good understanding of the same and accordingly, good connection between physical capital and social capital. In order to make the graph of the performance of a society smooth and continuous, government and the concerned authorities need to build a better type of physical and social capital.

Adam, Frane, and Borut Roncevic. (2003). ‘Social Capital: Recent Debates and Research Trends.’ Social Science Information. Vol. 42: 155-183.
Bankston, Carl L, and Min Zhou. (2002). ‘Social Capital as a Process: The Meanings and Problems of a Theoretical Metaphor.’ Sociological Inquiry. Vol. 72: 285-317.
Claridge, T. (2004). Social capital and Natural Resource Management: An important role for social welfare? Unpublished Thesis, University of Queensland Brisbane, Australia.
Requena, F. (2003). Social capital, satisfaction and quality of life in the workplace, Social Indicators Research, 61(3), 331-360.
Szreter, Simon. (2000). ‘‘Social Capital, the economy, and education in historical perspective.’’ Pp. 56-77 in Social Capital: Critical Perspectives, edited by Tom Schuller. Oxford University Press.

The author is a Research Scholar at the Department of Economics, Central University of Kashmir, an Academic Counselor, IGNOU STUDY CENTRE 1209,S.P. College, Srinagar; and Editor in EPH – International Journal of Business and Management Science & Asian Journal of Managerial Science. She is also the IJRULA title awards, 2018 winner (Best Researcher, 2018). And can be reached at: qadribinish@gmail.com