Conclusions about the limits to social capital Part of 2022 report "Exploring the limits of social capital"

The preceding sections have discussed many factors that potentially limit social capital. However, there are likely various other factors that may play a role, and we do not fully understand how they may limit social capital. Further exploration of these issues would require a multidisciplinary approach that embraces pluralism and is built on clear ontological foundations that reflect human’s socially situated experience. I believe this would ideally be a team effort with people from different disciplines contributing detailed expertise to each area of consideration.

The potential limits to social capital discussed above could be recategorised as (1) limits associated with individual characteristics and competencies, (2) the challenges of reaching and maintaining shared understandings, and (3) the effectiveness and efficiencies of institutions and their leaders. The perspective outlined in this article is fundamentally different to the existing approaches to understanding social capital and has the potential to generate new knowledge. Current research focuses on the social capital characteristics of existing social groupings rather than considering the potential nature of social capital. For each of the main issues discussed above, it is obvious how we can design intervention strategies to improve social capital. Many of these issues are obvious and should already be intuitively understood by many people. This approach to social capital focuses our attention on them and provides an understanding of why they are important. This allows us to prioritise these issues and communicate their importance to decision-makers. This is one of the key promises of the concept of social capital and one that requires a strong foundational understanding of the processes involved.

Citing this article

This report was prepared for the Institute for Social Capital. You should reference this work as:

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

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