Communitarian Approach to Social Capital Theory

Woolcock and Narayan (2000, p. 229)[1] 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[2] , 1995[3] ) and by Fukuyama (1995[4] , 1997[5] ). 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).


  1. Woolcock, Michael, and Deepa Narayan. 2000. “Social capital:  Implications for development theory, research, and policy.” The World Bank Research Observer 15: 225-249. ^
  2. Putnam, Robert D. 1993. ‘The prosperous community: Social capital and public life.’ The American Prospect 4. ^
  3. Putnam, Robert D. 1995. “Bowling alone: America’s declining social capital.” Journal of Democracy 6: 65-78. ^
  4. Fukuyama, Francis. 1995. Trust : the social virtues and the creation of prosperity. London: Hamish Hamilton. ^
  5. Fukuyama, Francis. 1997. ‘Social capital and the modern capitalist economy: Creating a high trust workplace.’ Stern Business Magazine 4. ^

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