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WEBINAR: Professor Carl L. Bankston III: In What Sense is Social Capital “Capital”?

November 19, 2021 @ 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm CST


Invited Speaker

Professor Carl L. Bankston III

Department of Sociology
Tulane University

The word “capital” originally referred to financial resources invested in the production of greater financial resources. It has been gradually extended to other kinds of resources. These have included the skills, training, and knowledge of individuals, social groups or political entities (human capital); cultural traits that lead to desirable outcomes (cultural capital); and qualities of sets of people that result in advantages either for the sets themselves or the individuals in them (the most common senses of “social capital”). What do these uses of “capital” have in common and what differentiates them?

If one thinks of capital as any set of assets that can produce profitable outcomes, then it makes sense to talk about skills, training, or knowledge or about cultural values or forms of interpersonal relations as “capital.” Indeed, financial assets alone can only result in profits within cultural and interpersonal environments. But social capital clearly differs in a number of ways from financial capital. The latter comes in identifiable amounts. Although social scientists have proposed various ways of quantifying social capital, it does not come in obvious countable units, such as dollars or Euros. Authors often define what social capital is in varying ways, with some essentially considering it as synonymous with cultural capital or some particular cultural value (such as trust), while others define it in terms of interpersonal networks of control and support. A co-author and I have argued that one special problem in social capital theory is that the production of desirable outcomes from interpersonal relations or values is a matter of process, rather than a matter of the investment of countable assets. If social capital involves characteristics of social groups that result in profitable outcomes, when should we regard an outcome as profitable?

This webinar will deal with the theoretical problems involved in thinking about social relations as investable assets and attempt to explore what social capital does and does not have in common with the tradition idea of financial capital.

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About the presenter:

Carl L. Bankston III is professor of sociology at Tulane University. His most recent books include American Ideas of Equality: A Social History, 1750-2020 (Cambria, 2021), The Rise of the New Second Generation (with Min Zhou; Polity, 2016); and Immigrant Networks and Social Capital (Polity, 2014). His research interests include international migration, sociology of education, stratification, historical sociology, and sociology of religion. Social capital theory has consistently been a dominant theoretical framework across all of these areas.

About Our Webinar Series

This event is part of our regular webinar sessions for social capital researchers including PhD/master students. These sessions include invited presentations from prominent scholars as well as presentations by PhD students and experts in professional practice.

For social capital researchers, these sessions are an opportunity to hear about the latest social capital research and insights from scholars working on the concept. They can be a great way to connect with people, to get advice, discuss ideas or issues, get suggestions for literature to read, or you can just listen.

Are you researching social capital and want to present your research? Click here for more information and to submit a proposal.

Generally, presentations can be 20 to 30 mins. The content of your presentation will depend on your research stage.


November 19, 2021
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm CST




Tristan Claridge
+64 22 018 9043

4 thoughts on “WEBINAR: Professor Carl L. Bankston III: In What Sense is Social Capital “Capital”?”

  1. Avatar

    It is interesting to read and interact on social capital; I have been a practitioner in development sector for marginalized communities especially working with indigenous population in Madhya Pradesh Nimar area which is one of the backward areas in India, whereby I along with my field team developed social capitals for agriculture keeping gender as cross cutting theme.

    I would like to share more on to that.
    Ahmedabad- Gujarat, INDIA

    1. Avatar
      mohamed Paull Ngegba

      I would be grateful if you would share your experience with me. I am a lecturer in community rural development ,and I am interested in understanding how social capital can help boost up rural development work on Sierra Leone.

  2. Avatar
    João Eduardo Alencar

    Upon Bourdieu definition of social capital, how embrangent is the extent of resources held by the network?

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The International Social Capital Association is an international non-profit member-based association devoted to advancing the research on and the application of the social capital concept for the benefit of all.