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Social Capital in Practice: A general guide for the practical application of social capital

This practical guide provides general guidance on the practical application of social capital and an overview of the different ways the concept can be applied to real-world applications. It breaks down the complexity of social capital into more easily understood components. It establishes the logic of social capital and provides a framework that is suitable for any application. It helps practitioners to build the understanding required for the purposeful and systematic application of social capital.

Citation: Claridge, T., 2024, Social Capital in Practice: A general guide for the practical application of social capital, Institute for Social Capital, Brisbane, Australia.

Exploring the limits of social capital

Exploring the limits of social capital: Can social capital be continually improved or is there a maximum?

It is widely acknowledged that social capital is vital to a wide range of human activities and allows modern economies to function efficiently. Building or improving social capital is therefore essential for any social group, organisation, or society. After over 30 years of research on social capital, our understanding of how to maximise social capital is rudimentary. We have many ideas about how to improve social capital in social groupings, but once these ideas have been implemented, we do not know much about the implications of continuing efforts to enhance social capital. There is some evidence that many aspects of social capital have non-linear relationships with outcomes and that some aspects may even have inverted U-shape relationships meaning very high levels of some aspects may be detrimental. This would suggest that social capital has a limit; that it cannot be built or improved infinitely without limit. However, very little is known about what factors limit the maximum amount of social capital and the interrelationships between aspects of social capital that may interact to create this limit.

Citation: Claridge, T., 2022. Exploring the limits of social capital: Can social capital be continually improved or is there a maximum?. Working Paper, Institute for Social Capital, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Designing social capital sensitive participation methodologies

Participation methodologies have been evolving and improving since first gaining international recognition in the 1960s. Despite these improvements there are stillgenuine concerns and criticisms of participation, particularly surrounding its application and effectiveness. The recent advent of social capital theory provides another lens for the analysis and ensuing improvement of participationmethodologies. Social capital theory encompasses the notion that our social relationships are productive in nature; that is, capital’. The theory describes the various dimensions of the complex social world that enable this capital. Both participation and social capital theories have many similarities; both are poorlydefined, conceptualized and operationalized in both debate and application. The two concepts are highly context specific and highly complex. Individually, the concepts still require further analysis to answer key questions, particularly about appropriate application. Jointly, little work has been done to identify the impacts that they have on each other and particularly how social capital benefits can be maximized in participatory methodologies.

Citation: Claridge, T., 2004. Designing social capital sensitive participation methodologies. Report, Social Capital Research, Brisbane, Australia.

Social Capital and Natural Resource Management: An important role for social capital?

The appeal of social capital stems from its intriguing integration of sociology and economics that some authors have heralded as a very important conceptual innovation or inter and trans disciplinary theoretical integration. Although the term social capital is relatively new, the concept is not as it encompasses a variety of other concepts. Broadly, definitions of social capital include reference to social networks and the productive benefits stemming from them. There has been an unprecedented acceptance and application of the concept in recent years with authors from a variety of disciplines applying it to numerous applications. The authors commonly cited as the source of the contemporary debate are Pieere Bourdieu, James Coleman and Robert Putnam. Of these, Putnam is commonly cited for popularizing social capital. The speed of the terms application following Putnam’s early work has weakened the theoretical rigor of the concept, leading many authors to question the validity of the concept. As identified by Wendy Stone, the supply of tools for empirical measurement outstrips demand. What is clear from the literature is that social capital is in a relatively early stage of theorization and much work is required to obtain validity of both conceptualization and operationalization.

Citation: Claridge, T., 2004. Social Capital and Natural Resource Management: An important role for social capital? Unpublished Thesis, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.

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