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What is Social Capital?

Supplementary resources on social capital to complement our guide to social capital.

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Social Capital in Practice

A general guide for the practical application of social capital

Regard, including beliefs and feelings about others

Regard is consideration and respect for a person or group. Mutual regard is a strong foundation for social capital at the individual level. When regard is present within a group or community, it represents a positive atmosphere where individuals feel valued and acknowledged. It promotes positive and constructive communication. When people treat each other with respect, it cultivates a supportive space where individuals are more likely to share ideas, collaborate on projects, and offer assistance when needed.

Regard for others can positively influence various other aspects of social capital. Positive interaction based on regard strengthens bonds and fosters a sense of belonging, enhancing the overall cohesion of the community. In a respectful and inclusive group, trust naturally flourishes, forming a crucial component of social capital.

In situations where differences arise, a foundation of mutual respect allows for more constructive discussions and compromises. This ability to handle conflicts amicably helps to preserve social capital, preventing divisive issues from eroding the trust and cooperation within the community.

When individuals respect and appreciate the differences among them, it creates an environment where diverse perspectives are valued. This inclusivity contributes to a richer and more vibrant social network, enhancing the overall resilience and adaptability of the community.

Reduces the tendency for individuals to associate and bond with people who are similar to themselves, known as homophily. Homophily can impair social capital, particularly the formation of connections with people who are different and from different backgrounds. However, homophily is generally problematic for social capital when otherness is not recognised and respected.

Having regard for others helps to move past perceived differences to find commonalities with others that provide a foundation for strong social capital. Regard involves consideration of others, so allows us to understand them and their situation better. This is connected with improved empathy for them and greater awareness of commonalities that provide the basis for a range of shared understandings.

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