As previously identified, social capital theory suffers from much criticism for being poorly defined and conceptualized. This problem largely stems form the fact that social capital is multi-dimensional with each dimension contributing to the meaning of social capital although each alone is not able to capture fully the concept in its entirety (Hean et al. 2003). The main dimensions are commonly seen as:
- Trust (Coleman 1988; Collier 1998; Cox 1997; Kawachi et al. 1999a; Kilpatrick 2000; Leana and Van Buren III 1999; Lemmel 2001; Putnam 1993; Putnam et al. 1993; Snijders 1999; Welsh and Pringle 2001)
- Rules and norms governing social action (Coleman 1988; Collier 1998; Fukuyama 2001; Portes and Sensenbrenner 1993)
- Types of social interaction (Collier 1998; Snijders 1999)
- Network resources (ABS 2002; Kilpatrick 2000; Snijders 1999)
- Other network characteristics (Burt 1997; Hawe and Shielle 2000; Kilpatrick 2000; Putnam 1995) adapted from (Hean et al. 2003, p. 1062).
Other authors have identified different groups of dimensions, for example Liu and Besser (2003) identified four dimensions of social capital: informal social ties, formal social ties, trust, and norms of collective action. Narayan and Cassidy (2001) identify a range of dimensions illustrated in figure 5.
Piazza-Georgi (2002) posited that Woolcock (1998) was the first to attempt a dissection of the concept of social capital within a unified conceptual framework. She goes on to state that Woolcock does this by defining four dimensions of social capital, in two pairs of opposing concepts: embeddedness and autonomy, and the macro and the micro level (refer to figure 6).
Analysis by Onyx and Bullen (2001) suggested that there are eight distinct dimensions of social capital; many are related to each other. Uslaner and Dekker (2001) sum this discussion up by identifying that it is clear that the components of social capital need to be treated as multi-dimensional rather than one-dimensional.
Citing this article
This article is part of a thesis submitted to the University of Queensland, Australia. You should reference this work as:
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 Unpublished Thesis, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.
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4 thoughts on “Dimensions of Social Capital Theory”
Really like how you have culminated the breadth of thinking around social capital into one area. I have many of the references you refer to and am pleased to see I wasn’t too far off from capturing the different perspectives. My only issue with the site is that figures and tables aren’t actually showing or their titles. Hopefully you can rectify this as I would love to visually see what you have referenced as well. Thanks,
Thank you Tristan for the help you’ve provide to so many of us who’ve tried to use the concept of social capital in an intellectually-responsible way. At this point in my career, many people utilize my work; so the errors and conceptual fuzziness that inhere in my published work can’t be reversely corrected. I can only hope that any future published work does a better job of using SC in a way that alerts the reader that the concept of SC demands more intellectual and theoretical integrity.
Good morning, i am from a tiny island called Trinidad and Tobago. A plural society in which social capital formation and maintenance differs based on differing ethnicities, cultures and classes. This results in clear differences among groups in approaches to finance, economics and wealth creation. has any consideration been given to building social capital developmental models which can work across cultures/ethnicities?
Most of the research on social capital tends to universalize across differences in society. Some approaches though are far more sensitive to context and can work across different cultures and ethnicities.