15 Jan 2020

Current definitions of social capital Academic definitions in 2019

In 2004 I wrote an article about the definitions of social capital and included a table of definitions from Adler & Kwon (2002). The article is still one of the most popular online, which is evidence that definition continues to be a challenging area for newcomers to social capital.

Now, 15 years later, I was interested in which definitions are being used and which have faded into obscurity. In 2004 it seemed that every author proffered their own definition of social capital, however this has been widely criticised, and I was hopeful that in 2019 there would be an established definition being used in the literature.

My method was simple: I randomly selected 100 peer-reviewed journal articles with social capital in the title that were published in 2019. I read the article to identify the definition or definitions of social capital there were used in the article and compiled a list.

Although 100 articles are a very small sample of the thousands of articles on social capital published each year, the results are interesting. The definitions from a handful of authors seem to have emerged. These authors are Robert Putnam, Pierre Bourdieu, Nan Lin, Janine Nahapiet & Sumantra Ghoshal, and to a lesser extent James Coleman. Almost 70% of definitions used came from publications by these authors.

Approximately 20% of definitions can from 18 different authors or collaborators, and the remaining 10% used their own definition (i.e. did not cite any author or publication for the definition).

The table below summarises these results.

Table 1. Source of definitions used in publications on social capital in 2019 (n = 112)
#Author/s cited for definitionPublications cited for definition
29Robert Putnam(Putnam, 1993, 1995, 2000, 2007; Putnam, Leonardi, & Nanetti, 1993)
17Pierre Bourdieu(Bourdieu, 1984, 1985, 1986; Bourdieu & Wacquant, 1992)
13Nan Lin(Lin, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2008; Lin, Fu, & Hsung, 2001)
11Janine Nahapiet & Sumantra Ghoshal(Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998)
9Own definitionNA
7James Coleman(Coleman, 1988, 1990, 2000)
5Ichiro Kawachi(Kawachi, Berkman, & others, 2000; Kawachi, Subramanian, & Kim, 2008)
2Tom Healy & Sylvain Cote(Healy & Cote, 2001)
2Miquel Porta(Porta, 2014)
2Alejandro Portes(Portes, 1998)
2Hans Westlund et al(Westlund & Adam, 2010; Westlund & Bolton, 2003)
1Paul Adler & Seok-Woo Kwon(Adler & Kwon, 2002)
1Alistair Anderson & Sarah Jack(Anderson & Jack, 2002)
1David Dai et al(Dai, Mao, Zhao, & Mattila, 2015)
1Sara Ferlander(Ferlander, 2007)
1Eric Gedajlovic, et al(Gedajlovic, Honig, Moore, Payne, & Wright, 2013)
1Edward Glaeser et al(Glaeser, Laibson, & Sacerdote, 2002)
1Luigi Guiso et al(Guiso, Sapienza, & Zingales, 2004)
1Marleen Huysman & Volker Wulf(Huysman & Wulf, 2004)
1National Research Council(National Research Council, 2014)
1Wendy Stone(Stone, 2001)
1David Throsby(Throsby, 1999)
1Veerle Vyncke et al(Vyncke et al., 2013)
1Michael Woolcock(Woolcock, 1998)

112 definitions found in 100 peer-reviewed journal articles on social capital published in 2019

The variability evident in the table above may suggest that the definitional difficulties that have plagued social capital theory have not yet been resolved, or if there is a resolution, it is not being observed by many authors.

I’ll discuss the main authors who were cited before discussing the considerations for definitions of social capital. I don’t suggest you rush off to cite one of the authors at the top of the table above until you have considered the most appropriate definition for your study or application of social capital.

Robert Putnam

Putnam’s conception of social capital has received widespread criticism, yet, evidence from this sample of 2019 publications would suggest his definitions have emerged as the most popular. This may be because Putnam was responsible for the widespread popularity of the concept, and this popularity may persist. Another explanation could be that Putnam’s definitions capture a suitable top-level description of social capital. It may be that social capital is too complex to precisely capture its meaning in a definition, so perhaps for many authors Putnam’s definition provides a suitable overview. There are more specific and tangible definitions, however, in my view they often omit important elements of the concept.

Consider, for example, Putnam’s definition of social capital from Bowling alone: America’s declining social capital:

“features of social organization such as networks, norms, and social trust that facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefit” (Putnam, 1995 p.67).

This definition provides a general explanation for the concept, however, since norms and trust are normally considered part of the relational dimension, the lack of reference to shared understandings could be a problem if you perceive social capital as the property of the collective and intend to use the structural/relational/cognitive conceptualisation.

Pierre Bourdieu

Bourdieu’s conception places social capital as the property of the individual rather than the collective. This means many aspects of the cognitive dimension of social capital are excluded since they relate to the wider social context rather than being a characteristic of specific relationships. This means Bourdieu’s definition may be unsuitable where social capital is treated as the property of the collective, or where it is both the property of the collective and individual.

Under this conception, civic norms are not social capital [unless they reinforce the social position and status. Understandings of civic norms could be relevant, since for Bourdieu social capital is the property of the individual so an understanding of norms, or rules of the game, is an advantage. Thick trust is an important part of social capital, grounded in reputation and goodwill embedded in relationships, however, is thin (or generalised) trust relevant?

The focus on the individual is evident in Bourdieu’s definition:

“the aggregate of the actual or potential resources which are linked to possession of a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition” (Bourdieu, 1986 p.248).

Nan Lin

Lin’s definition of social capital is more quantifiable and more precise than Putnam’s definition. By conceptualising social capital as access to resources through network ties, the complexity and intangible nature of relational and cognitive dimensions is avoided. However, under the surface these difficulties remain when we explore the nature of the social structure that enables access to these resources and the processes that facilitate the actions required to access them.

An example of a commonly cited definition from Lin is:

“resources embedded in a social structure that are accessed and/or mobilized in purposive actions” (Lin, 2001)

Lin is most cited in the economically oriented branch of the literature on social capital that is commonly referred to as the network approach.

Janine Nahapiet & Sumantra Ghoshal

Nahapiet & Ghoshal (1998) are commonly credited for the distinction between structural, cognitive, and relational dimensions of social capital, building on Granovetter’s (1992) discussion of structural and relational embeddedness. In my current analysis I found that 34% of the publications made reference to structural, cognitive and relational (or a two-way distinction of structural and cognitive or structural and relational), although within this group of publications only 60% cited Nahapiet & Ghoshal (1998) for this conception (refer to table 4). The popularity of this conceptualisation would suggest their definition would be popular, however only 11% of the sampled publications used their definition.

This may be because their definition appears to position social capital as the property of the individual, despite the inclusion of relational and cognitive dimensions in the conceptualisation. This is their definition:

“the sum of the actual and potential resources embedded within, available through, and derived from the network of relationships possessed by an individual or social unit” (Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998 p.243).

James Colman

Coleman received relatively few citations for definitions of social capital despite being commonly accepted as one of the contemporary authors on the concept. This is likely because he treated social capital as almost universally productive while ignoring inequality that results or causes differential power and status.

A commonly cited definition for Coleman is:

“Social capital is defined by its function. It is not a single entity, but a variety of different entities having two characteristics in common: They all consist of some aspect of social structure, and they facilitate certain actions of individuals who are within the structure” (Coleman, 1990 p.302).

Considerations when defining social capital

The definitions above represent a variety of perspectives on social capital. The main reason for the significant variation evident in these definitions is that some authors treat social capital as the property of the individual, some treat it as the property of the collective, and some see it as having both individual and collective properties.

There are two key questions that will likely influence how you define and conceptualise social capital. Unsurprisingly they relate to the meaning of its constituent words since both are open for interpretation.

  1. Does ‘social’ relate to networks (i.e. social relationships) or the disposition to live and cooperate with others (i.e. social norms)? Is social capital the property of the individual, the property of the collective, or does it have both individual and collective components?
  2. Does ‘capital’ represent an economic definition of capital or is it a metaphor? Does social capital involve the mobilisation of forms of capital only, or does the ‘capital’ in social capital have more metaphoric character; representing various tangible and intangible resources, benefits, productivities and savings?

There is little consensus on these questions in the literature. While I believe it is essential to be clear on these points there may be no right answers to these questions. For example, is it incorrect to conceptualise social capital as a private property involving a narrow definition of capital? Personally, I do not take this approach; I consider social capital to have both individual and collective components and I understand ‘capital’ as a metaphor. I can rigorously substantiate this position however this does not make other approaches invalid.

What is important is clarity and consistency of approach, and the ability to explain and justify it. You should be clear about the approach you take on social capital and your definition must match how you conceptualise and operationalise the concept.

If you are unsure of what approach to take the following question may help you reach some clarity:

Is holding a door open for a stranger an example of an outcome of social capital?

If yes, then social capital has collective properties since this action is not embedded in specific social relationships. Since the interaction is between strangers the interaction is not based on relational properties such as norms of trust or reciprocity that are established by repeat interaction between individuals. Instead it is based on civic norms, generalised trust, and understandings that are generally shared, not embedded in a specific network. A yes to this question also means that capital has metaphoric character since the benefits, productivities or savings associated with holding a door open for someone doesn’t fit with an economic definition of capital. No ‘capital’ is mobilised, but the action is clearly a benefit of sociability. Despite this, it may or may not be related to social capital depending on how you define it.

As you’ve probably already concluded, social capital is actualised through action, so the question is the cause or motivation of human behaviour. This is one of the key questions of the social sciences: what makes humans cooperative? Normative influence is an important aspect of most, perhaps all, conceptions of social capital. Norms develop through repeat interaction so have relational properties (i.e. relating to specific relationships) but are also influenced by wider group or societal norms. Therefore, the norms related to a relationship do not develop in isolation and are influenced by experiences beyond the relationship. If you take a network approach to social capital, then you must be clear about the boundaries of what is relevant and the justification for what is included and excluded from consideration.

What definition of social capital do I use?

Considering my approach to understanding social capital, I don’t find any of the definitions mentioned above particularly suitable. For me, none of them adequately capture the full meaning of the concept or leave too much conceptual ambiguity. For me, social capital has a network component, involving social relationships, but also involving shared understandings that are not necessarily embedded in existing relationships.

For the last 15 years I have resisted the temptation to proffer my own definition of social capital since I support the criticism of the many authors who have done just that. To date I have done what many other authors have done; include several definitions from prominent authors without nominating an accepted definition. I have convinced myself that collectively these definitions are sufficient to communicate the meaning of the concept. Several times I have launched investigations to find a suitable definition that is commonly used/accepted but consistently lacked satisfaction.

I think ideally a definition would describe what it is; not what it does, not where it comes from, not why it’s important, not examples, not an incomplete list of constituents (for example using “such as…”), not tied to context, not based on outcomes, not overly abstract or vague to require further definition of composite concepts, and not specific as to overly narrow its scope.

The table below contains definitions from some relatively rarely cited publications that I find interesting. They are rarely cited relative to the popular publications detailed above, many of which have over 50,000 Google Scholar citations.

Table 2. Other definitions of social capital
DefinitionGoogle Scholar citations*
“the institutions, relationships, attitudes and values governing interactions amongst people” (Iyer, Kitson, & Toh, 2005 p.1016)379
“the networks, norms, relationships, values and informal sanctions that shape the quantity and co-operative quality of a society’s social interactions” (Aldridge, Halpern, & Fitzpatrick, 2002 p.5)330
“potential willingness of citizens to cooperate with each other and to engage in civic endeavors collectively” (Stolle, 2003 p.19)309
“understood broadly as those structural, relational and cognitive features of social interaction that facilitate coordinated action and collective learning” (Staber, 2007 p.505)111
“the many resources derived from the social interaction between individuals and groups” (Reyes, Giovannoni, & Thomson, 2018 p. e01169)2
“accumulation of various types of social, psychological, cultural, cognitive, institutional, and related assets that increase the amount (or probability) of mutually beneficial cooperative behavior” (Uphoff, 1999 p.216)1282
“the application or exercise of social norms of reciprocity, trust and exchange for political or economic purposes” (Cooke, Clifton, & Oleaga, 2005 p.1066)344
“the values and beliefs that citizens share in their everyday dealings and which give meaning and provide design for all sorts of rules” (Maskell, 2000 p.111)560
“the shared knowledge, understandings, norms, rules, and expectations about patterns of interactions that groups of individuals bring to a recurrent activity” (Ostrom 2000 p.176)1122

*The Google Scholar citations is the “cited by” number on Google Scholar as at 14 January 2020

The definitions listed in the table above are far from an exhaustive list of potentially suitable alternate definitions of social capital. Although most of these definitions have some shortcomings, they get to the core intuition of social capital.

This study of 100 academic articles published in 2019 is a very small sample. I welcome suggestions on the most popular and appropriate definitions of social capital.

Methodological notes

The attribution of definition is claimed by the author through citation. Some authors directly quote definitions while others paraphrase. The definition was identified by statements such as “social capital is…” or “social capital is defined as…”. Some authors provide more than one definition, and, in these cases, they did not always clarify which definition will be used for the study – for many authors it seems definitional precision is not of great importance. This is perhaps not surprising considering the general lack of clarity in the conception of social capital.

Those authors who used their own definition of social capital may have borrowed heavily from existing and accepted definitions without directly quoting them. Others clearly shaped a definition to suit their study, further contributing to the bastardisation of the concept (as discussed by critics).

Results

Table 3. Full details of definitions cited by sampled publications
Publication cited for definition of social capitalDefinition of social capital providedPublication
(Adler & Kwon, 2002)the set of benefits individuals can gain from their social connections and social structures, such as access to information and emotional support(Qiu et al., 2019)
(Anderson & Jack, 2002; Gedajlovic et al., 2013; Westlund & Bolton, 2003)an inherently humanistic and intangible asset inhering in networks and indispensable source of informal support for entrepreneurs(Lee et al., 2019)
(Bourdieu & Wacquant, 1992)the accumulated sum of mutual acquaintances that due to its durability, becomes a structural resource embodied by one’s social network(van der Zeeuw et al., 2019)
(Bourdieu & Wacquant, 1992)the aggregate of physical or virtual resources which belong to a person or a community by means of holding a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition(H. Li et al., 2019)
(Bourdieu & Wacquant, 1992)the sum of the resources, actual or virtual, that accrue to an individual or a group by virtue of possessing a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition(Lindström & Rosvall, 2019)
(Bourdieu & Wacquant, 1992)sum of the resources, actual or virtual, that accrue to an individual or a group by virtue of possessing a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition(Neumeyer et al., 2019)
(Bourdieu, 1984; Lin, 1999)the resources that accrue from membership in a social network(Xu & Saxton, 2019)
(Bourdieu, 1985)an aggregated measure of resources derived from durable networks of ‘more-or-less institutionalized’ relationships and social structures that members can use in the pursuit of their own interests(Cox et al., 2019)
(Bourdieu, 1986)the socio-structural resources (e.g., emotional or instrumental support) that accrue through shared norms and values within durable relationships(Archuleta et al., 2019)
(Bourdieu, 1986)the value of social networks or the benefits and obligations that come with group membership(Buck-Mcfadyen et al., 2019)
(Bourdieu, 1986)access to the capitals of other members of a network of social ties that can be mobilized for personal ends(Veenstra & Abel, 2019)
(Bourdieu, 1986)resources that individuals can access that are embedded in their social relationships(You & Hon, 2019)
(Bourdieu, 1986)a real or potential set of resources, which exists in networks that people have established in familiar and cognitive relationships(Yu & Nilsson, 2019)
(Bourdieu, 1986)the aggregate of the actual or potential resources which are linked to possession of a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition(Ntontis et al., 2019)
(Bourdieu, 1986)circumstances in which individuals can use membership in groups and networks to secure benefits(Bashar & Bramley, 2019)
(Bourdieu, 1986)the aggregate of the actual or potential resources which are linked to possession of a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition(Chen & Starobin, 2019)
(Bourdieu, 1986)an aggregation of actual or potential resources that were more or less associated with institutionalized networks of mutual understanding and cognition(Z. Li & Tan, 2019)
(Bourdieu, 1986)aggregate of the actual or potential resources which are linked to possession of a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance or recognition(Slåtten et al., 2019)
(Bourdieu, 1986; Coleman, 1988; Lin, 2001; Putnam, 1995)the aggregate of the actual or potential resources which are linked to possession of a durable network of more or less institutionalised relationships of mutual acquaintance or recognition(Stahl & McDonald, 2019)
(Coleman, 1988)actual and potential resources in relationships between people(Clausen et al., 2019)
(Coleman, 1988; Lin, 2001)the set of resources someone has access to in a social network(Recuero et al., 2019)
(Coleman, 1988; Lin, 2002; Portes, 1998)material and informational resources that actors have access to through social ties(Morel & Coburn, 2019)
(Coleman, 1990)how an increase of networks or social contacts has beneficial effects on a person’s economic attainment(Renema & Lubbers, 2019)
(Coleman, 1990)relationships among actors, as well as resources that pass across the ties that connect them(Dufur et al., 2019)
(Dai et al., 2015)the social connections through which entrepreneurs can obtain tangible and intangible assets necessary for business performance(Akintimehin et al., 2019)
(Ferlander, 2007)a construct that concerning social relations at both individual and societal levels. It consists of social networks, norms of reciprocity, or social support and social trust.(Kordan et al., 2019)
(Glaeser et al., 2002)an individual characteristic, the result of a specific investment choice, which is a different dimension of the human capital that the individual owns(Bosbach & Maietta, 2019)
(Guiso et al., 2004)the degree of altruistic tendency and the level of mutual trust among people within a community(Huang & Shang, 2019)
(Healy & Cote, 2001)networks together with shared norms, values and understandings that facilitate cooperation within and among groups(Peiró-Palomino & Picazo-Tadeo, 2019)
(Healy & Cote, 2001; Putnam, 2000)social networks that share norms, values, and understandings, facilitating cooperation within or among group(Murayama et al., 2019)
(Huysman & Wulf, 2004)network ties of goodwill, shared language, shared norms, and a sense of mutual obligation that people can derive value from(Kent et al., 2019)
(Kawachi et al., 2000)beneficial resources in relations between people(Framke et al., 2019a)
(Kawachi et al., 2000)the resources that are accessed by individuals as a result of their membership of a network or group(Yamaguchi et al., 2019)
(Kawachi et al., 2000)resources in social relations among individuals in social units(Framke et al., 2019b)
(Kawachi et al., 2000)the resources such as interpersonal trust and norms of reciprocity that are available within social groups(Hori et al., 2019)
(Kawachi et al., 2008)resources obtained through social relationships(Firouzbakht et al., 2019)
(Lin, 1999)investment in social relations with expected returns(Lőrincz et al., 2019)
(Lin, 2000)the investment in embedded resources in social networks with expected returns(Kang et al., 2019)
(Lin, 2000)the resources and value outcomes that are embedded in a person’s social network(Appau et al., 2019)
(Lin, 2001)expected benefits gained from investment and use of resources obtained from social relations(Crawford, 2019)
(Lin, 2001)the resources that are embedded within social networks(Webber et al., 2019)
(Lin, 2001)resources embedded in social networks that can be accessed through social ties(Benbow & Lee, 2019)
(Lin, 2008)resources embedded in one’s social networks, resources that can be accessed or mobilized through ties in the networks(Lukács J & Dávid, 2019)
(Lin, 2008)the resources embedded in people’s social networks(Huber et al., 2019)
(Lin et al., 2001)resources embedded in a social structure; accessibility to these social resources by individuals; and use or mobilization of them by individuals engaged in purposive action(Kerksieck et al., 2019)
(Moore & Kawachi, 2017; Porta, 2014)the resources available to individuals and groups through membership in social networks and it can be conceptualized either at an individual (egocentric) or collective (sociocentric) level(Carrillo-Álvarez et al., 2019)
(Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998)the sum of the actual and potential resources embedded within, available through, and derived from the relationships possessed by an individual or social unit(Gölgeci & Kuivalainen, 2019)
(Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998)the potential resources, both tangible and invisible, embedded in social relations or networks(Yang et al., 2019)
(Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998)the networks of relationships and the resources found and available in these networks(Hernández-Carrión et al., 2019)
(Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998)the sum of the actual and potential resources embedded with, available through, and derived from the network of relationships possessed by an individual or social unit(Zhou, 2019)
(Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998)the capital that develops from the relationships between people and among people(Harris et al., 2019)
(Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998)the additional resources embedded in the network of a collective(Sagar et al., 2019)
(Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998)the current and potential resources embedded in networks of relationships. It refers to the networks of relationships which allow individuals to exchange and access the different assets available in said networks(Redondo & Camarero, 2019)
(Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998)the value and resources contained in and made available through an individual’s or an organization’s network of relationships(Eiteneyer et al., 2019)
(Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998)the sum of actual and potential resources embedded in social networks that are crucial to the functioning of individuals(Siti-Nabiha & Kamalia, 2019)
(Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998)the aggregate of resources embedded in and accessible through a network of relationships(Sanchez-Ruiz et al., 2019)
(Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998)the sum of the assets or resources embedded in the networks of relationships between individuals, communities, networks, or societies(Shao & Pan, 2019)
(National Research Council, 2014)high levels of engagement in community organizations; connectedness with friends and neighbors; and positive attitudes toward others(Weiss et al., 2019)
(Porta, 2014)the resources that individuals can access thanks to their membership in a network or group, which includes both the resources accessible through direct, individual connections as well as the ones that are available to all the members just for belonging to the group(Carrillo‐Álvarez et al., 2019)
(Portes, 1998; Putnam et al., 1993)networks with shared norms, values, and understanding that facilitate relationships within or among groups(Kawasaki et al., 2019)
(Putnam, 1993)features of social organization such as trust, norms and networks that can improve the efficiency of a society by facilitating coordinated actions(Chan et al., 2019)
(Putnam, 1993)features of social organizations, such as trust, norms, and networks that can improve the efficiency of society by facilitating coordinated actions(Eriksson et al., 2019)
(Putnam, 1993)a resource can be used to facilitate co-operation within the society, thus is valuable to combat environmental issues(Wu et al., 2019)
(Putnam, 1993)the ways in which individuals are embedded in social organizations that facilitate cooperation for mutual benefit, including civic or community engagement(Córdova et al., 2019)
(Putnam, 1993; Putnam et al., 1993)

(Coleman, 2000)

a collection of features of a social organisation -a social network- that facilitate coordinated action (Putnam, 1993; Putnam et al., 1994) by facilitating certain actions and constraining others (Coleman, 2000).(Fitzsimons et al., 2019)
(Putnam, 1995)civic connections and social trust(J. King et al., 2019)
(Putnam, 1995)features of social life – networks, norms and trust – that enable participants to act together more effectively to pursue shared objectives(B. King et al., 2019)
(Putnam, 1995)business social capital refers to relations, norms, and knowledge shared within the firm(Elias et al., 2019)
(Putnam, 1995)networks of actors and associated trust and norms in relationships between actors(Fisch, 2019)
(Putnam, 1995)the value of social committee such as network, norms and trust that build up coordination and cooperation to achieve goals(Shanmugam, Karunakaran, et al., 2019)
(Putnam, 1995)the social networks of individuals(He et al., 2019)
(Putnam, 1995)systems that result from social and economic organisation, trust, solidarity, shared values and norms of reciprocal cooperation, informational and economic exchange, and informal and formal groups and associations(Kolade et al., 2019)
(Putnam, 2000)connections among individuals—social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them(Wachs et al., 2019)
(Putnam, 2000)features of social organization such as networks, norms, and social trust that facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefit(Almohamed & Vyas, 2019)
(Putnam, 2000)a network of individuals and groups which are established based on trust(Amaewhule & Abraham, 2019)
(Putnam, 2000)the access and proficiency individuals have to knowledge and networks that facilitate acquisition of economic resources and social well-being(Rhodes et al., 2019)
(Putnam, 2000)features of social organization such as networks, norms, and social trust that facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefit(Berthelsen et al., 2019)
(Putnam, 2000)the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness within social networks(Rosenkranz, 2019)
(Putnam, 2000)connections among individuals—social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them(Manago & Melton, 2019)
(Putnam, 2000)social networks [among individuals] and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them(Carreras & Bowler, 2019)
(Putnam, 2000)features of social organization, such as networks, norms and social trust that facilitates coordination and cooperation for mutual benefit(Zhu et al., 2019)
(Putnam, 2000)the features of social organisation—networks, norms and trust—that enable people to act together more effectively to pursue shared objectives(Meek et al., 2019)
(Putnam, 2000)stocks of social trust, networks, and values upon which people can draw in order to improve their livelihoods and to pursue shared objectives(Cofré-Bravo et al., 2019)
(Putnam, 2007)social networks and their associated norms of trust and reciprocity(Painter & Price, 2019)
(Putnam et al., 1993)resources acquired through social interactions of reciprocity and mutual aid(Sanchez et al., 2019)
(Stone, 2001)networks of social relations which are characterised by norms of trust and reciprocity(Stanley et al., 2019)
(Throsby, 1999)a kind of resource derived from relationships with other people in a social network(S. Li et al., 2019)
(Vyncke et al., 2013)social networks act as a potential resource for individuals and society as a whole(Ahlborg et al., 2019)
(Westlund & Adam, 2010)networks of actors and the norms and values being distributed in these networks(Habersetzer et al., 2019)
(Woolcock, 1998)the information, trust, and norms of reciprocity inherent in a social network(Ferris et al., 2019)
Ownshared values, norms, routines, and practices across a localized population of socioeconomic agents(Aragón Amonarriz et al., 2019)
OwnA relational resource that can emerge as communicators negotiate relationships and meanings that establishes norms, builds trust, and positions communicators to facilitate the exchange and mixing of resources and information within and across networks that may provide value to members of a network and/or the network itself(Saffer, 2019)
Ownthe social connections a person has that can be utilized for advancement within an arena of social life (e.g., being family friends with politician)(Kyle Rudick et al., 2019)
Ownthe value of social networks and is determined by voluntarism, donating, neighbourhood-activities and charity(Abdullah et al., 2019)
Ownthe intimate set of social relations that shape civil society work(Peck, 2019)
Ownthe value of social relations merged with cooperation and coordination terms to achieve goals(Shanmugam, Gheni, et al., 2019)
Ownthe benefits that accrue to individuals and groups through their social relationships(Story & Glanville, 2019)
Ownthe social connectedness of a community(Lu & Xiao, 2019)
Ownresource that facilitates certain behaviors(Neal & Neal, 2019)
Table 4. Publications referring to structural, cognitive, and or relational dimensions
PublicationUses dimensions
(Abdullah, Malek, & Manaf, 2019)
(Ahlborg, Svedberg, Nyholm, Morgan, & Nygren, 2019)Yes*
(Akintimehin et al., 2019)Yes*
(Almohamed & Vyas, 2019)
(Amaewhule & Abraham, 2019)
(Appau, Awaworyi Churchill, Smyth, & Zhang, 2019)
(Aragón Amonarriz, Iturrioz, Narvaiza, & Parrilli, 2019)Yes
(Archuleta, Prost, & Golder, 2019)Yes*
(Bashar & Bramley, 2019)
(Benbow & Lee, 2019)
(Berthelsen, Westerlund, Pejtersen, & Hadzibajramovic, 2019)
(Bosbach & Maietta, 2019)
(Buck-Mcfadyen, Isaacs, Strachan, Akhtar-Danesh, & Valaitis, 2019)
(Carreras & Bowler, 2019)
(Carrillo‐Álvarez, Kawachi, & Riera‐Romaní, 2019)
(Carrillo-Álvarez, Villalonga-Olives, Riera-Romaní, & Kawachi, 2019)
(Chan, Roy, Lai, & Tan, 2019)
(Chen & Starobin, 2019)
(Clausen, Meng, & Borg, 2019)
(Cofré-Bravo, Klerkx, & Engler, 2019)
(Córdova, Coleman-Minahan, Bull, & Borrayo, 2019)
(Cox et al., 2019)
(Crawford, 2019)
(Dufur, Thorpe, Barton, Hoffmann, & Parcel, 2019)
(Eiteneyer, Bendig, & Brettel, 2019)Yes
(Elias, Alexopoulou, Scholes, & Hughes, 2019)Yes
(Eriksson, Lindgren, Ivarsson, & Ng, 2019)
(Ferris, Javakhadze, & Rajkovic, 2019)Yes*
(Firouzbakht et al., 2019)Yes*
(Fisch, 2019)Yes*
(Fitzsimons, Rodríguez-Lesmes, Stein, Vera-Hernández, & Yoshida, 2019)
(Framke et al., 2019a)
(Framke et al., 2019b)
(Gölgeci & Kuivalainen, 2019)Yes
(Habersetzer, Grèzes-Bürcher, Boschma, & Mayer, 2019)
(Harris, Wright, & McMahan, 2019)
(He, An, & Berry, 2019)
(Hernández-Carrión, Camarero-Izquierdo, & Gutiérrez-Cillán, 2019)Yes
(Hori et al., 2019)Yes
(Huang & Shang, 2019)
(Huber, Gil de Zúñiga, Diehl, & Liu, 2019)
(Kang, Gold, Kim, & Kim, 2019)Yes*
(Kawasaki, Hanaoka, Saito, Bandara, & Nakamichi, 2019)
(Kent, Rechavi, & Rafaeli, 2019)
(Kerksieck, Bauer, & Brauchli, 2019)
(King, Fielke, Bayne, Klerkx, & Nettle, 2019)
(King, Hine, Washburn, Montgomery, & Chaney, 2019)
(Kolade, Kibreab, James, & Smith, 2019)
(Kordan, Lolaty, Mousavinasab, & Fard, 2019)Yes*
(Kyle Rudick, Quiñones Valdivia, Hudachek, Specker, & Goodboy, 2019)
(Lee, Tuselmann, Jayawarna, & Rouse, 2019)Yes
(Li & Tan, 2019)Yes
(Li, Modi, Wu, Chen, & Nguyen, 2019)Yes
(Li, Walters, & Tian, 2019)Yes
(Lindström & Rosvall, 2019)Yes*
(Lőrincz, Koltai, Győr, & Takács, 2019)Yes
(Lu & Xiao, 2019)
(Lukács J & Dávid, 2019)
(Manago & Melton, 2019)
(Meek, Ogilvie, Lambert, & Ryan, 2019)Yes
(Morel & Coburn, 2019)
(Murayama, Murayama, Hasebe, Yamaguchi, & Fujiwara, 2019)
(Neal & Neal, 2019)
(Neumeyer, Santos, Caetano, & Kalbfleisch, 2019)
(Ntontis, Drury, Amlôt, Rubin, & Williams, 2019)
(Painter & Price, 2019)
(Peck, 2019)
(Peiró-Palomino & Picazo-Tadeo, 2019)
(Qiu, Nolte, Brown, Serebrenik, & Vasilescu, 2019)
(Recuero, Zago, & Soares, 2019)Yes*
(Redondo & Camarero, 2019)Yes
(Renema & Lubbers, 2019)
(Rhodes, Cordie, & Wooten, 2019)
(Rosenkranz, 2019)Yes
(Saffer, 2019)Yes
(Sagar, Rose, Agdas, & Kajewski, 2019)Yes
(Sanchez et al., 2019)
(Sanchez-Ruiz, Daspit, Holt, & Rutherford, 2019)Yes
(Shanmugam, Gheni, bin Yusof, & Karunakaran, 2019)
(Shanmugam, Karunakaran, & Amidi, 2019)
(Shao & Pan, 2019)Yes
(Siti-Nabiha & Kamalia, 2019)
(Slåtten, Lien, Horn, & Pedersen, 2019)Yes
(Stahl & McDonald, 2019)
(Stanley, Stanley, Balbontin, & Hensher, 2019)
(Story & Glanville, 2019)Yes*
(van der Zeeuw, van Deursen, & Jansen, 2019)
(Veenstra & Abel, 2019)
(Wachs, Yasseri, Lengyel, & Kertész, 2019)
(Webber et al., 2019)
(Weiss, Paxton, Velasco, & Ressler, 2019)
(Wu, Mentzakis, Schaafsma, & Hu, 2019)
(Xu & Saxton, 2019)
(Yamaguchi et al., 2019)Yes*
(Yang, Matthews, Sun, & Armendariz, 2019)
(You & Hon, 2019)
(Yu & Nilsson, 2019)Yes*
(Zhou, 2019)Yes
(Zhu, Li, Xia, Wang, & Mao, 2019)Yes*

*Did not cite Nahapiet & Ghoshal (1998) for the dimensions of social capital

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  • Paul J Nelson April 24, 2020

    Now for nearly 4 years since retirement, I have applied my professional career of 41 years as a primary physician (aka family medicine physician, pediatrician, general internist) for an attempt to understand the following conundrum. For the USA, why is it that maternal mortality, childhood maltreatment, childhood obesity, adolescent homicide/suicide, substance abuse/suicide, homelessness, mass shootings, mid-life depression/disability, and senile dementia (“Alzheimer’s disease) have all steadily worsened for the last 50 years and especially the last 10 years? Meanwhile, our nation’s health spending has increased during the last 60 years from 5.0% of the national economy in 1960 to 18.0% in 2019.

    As a point of reference, since it applies to 50% of our resident persons, we would need to reduce maternal mortality by 70% to rank among the 10 developed nations with the lowest maternal mortality incidence. There are at least 700 women who die annually in the USA just because they lived in the wrong nation at the time of conception. I do not accept that our healthcare industry, in spite of its knowable faults, is primarily responsible for the level of annual worsening of our nation’s maternal health. As cited above, our nation’s worsening Well-Being is most likely the result of our loss of social capital and its attendant social cohesion, uniquely community by community.

    For HEALTH, Social Capital may be defined as “the spontaneity occurring among a community’s resident persons to apply the norms of trust, cooperation, and reciprocity for resolving the social dilemmas they encounter daily that becomes more readily expressed by the community’s resident person when generational caring relationships increasingly permeate the community’s social networks.”

    For HEALTH, Social Cohesion may be defined as “a general expectation among the resident persons of a nation’s communities that the resident persons of each other’s community are trustworthy and that the prevalence of these trustworthy persons improves when every community of their nation persistently collaborates with their adjacent communities to support each other’s SURVIVAL Commons (aka augmented safety net) with continuing contributions of Social Capital.”

    The definitions for caring relationships, family (aka generational), community, and survival commons are another matter. The long-standing philosophical term, Common Good, lurks in the shadows of contemporary human Well-Being.

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  • Ivan April 24, 2020

    Dear Tristan,
    thank you very much for this article. It helped me a lot while trying to find an applicable definition for my student research.
    Although, the very concept stands pretty much blurry still and I am actually thinking of replacing it with “solidarity”…
    My point of research is youth gangs and (positive) social capital in the community. Since youth gangs are often seen as a negative aspect of social capital, and in the case of my research it is shown the opposite. How can youth gangs produce social wealth to the community? For example, in this COVID-19 crisis, they have organized a volunteering service that cares for old and risky citizens. The question is, how to measure it? If I do it with “trust”, there is a good chance people, in general, will say that they do not trust youth gangs, if I do it with “network connections” people, in general, will deny any connection with gangs, the “norms of society” are obviously (since it is a criminal gang) not applicable in whole… None of the aforementioned definitions is applicable since some of them carry an individual “marker”, some are very explicit about “gangs” as a negative indicator, and some are very focused on inter-company relations that are too “strict” for usage in a loose environment that I am dealing with. The closest examples of what I am talking about is mafia involvement in the community (by sharing parts of their economic capital to refer to Bourdieu) and very close to it is also “Muslim brotherhood” in Egypt but it is also a social movement and a political organization so it doesn’t fit. If you have any idea how to solve this issue or knowledge about some literature that could be helpful, please share it. Thank you in advance and sorry for my bad English.

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    • Tristan Claridge April 24, 2020

      I think youth gangs are an example of a social grouping with a strong sense of shared identity and common interests. Whether the their actions are perceived as positive or negative outcomes of social capital depends on the perspective (i.e. it may be positive for them but negative for another group) and context. I don’t think it’s unusual for gangs to support their community; generally they are members of the community so it is their gang as much as it is their community. The definition of social capital may be a challenge. You may want to focus on the individual level aspects of social capital but also include the community level aspects while still being sensitive for different and often inequitable access to social capital.

      Reply
  • Paul J Nelson April 6, 2020

    “Table 2: Other definitions of social capital” ends with a citation for Ostrom E of 1122. There is no entry within the References list attributed to Ostrom E. (also on page 176, but published in 2000)

    Ostrom E. 2000. “Social capital: a fad or a fundamental concept.” In Dasgupta P & Serageldin, eds. “Social Capital: A Multifaceted Perspective.” pp172-214. THE WORLD BANK.

    Note: The paper was presented during an April 1997 workshop organized by the World Bank.

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    • Tristan Claridge April 6, 2020

      Thanks for point this out Paul. It looks like a problem with the reference software. I have fixed the year and added Elinor’s chapter to the reference list.

      Reply

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