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Types of Social Capital

Attempts to more thoroughly conceptualize social capital have resulted in many authors identifying different types and characteristics, the most common being the distinction of structural and cognitive, and bonding and bridging. Although not always called the same thing, the distinction between bridging and bonding (and often linking as well) is common in the literature. Aldridge, Halpern et al (2002)[1] identified these main types of social capital. Bonding is horizontal, among equals within a community whereas bridging is vertical between communities (Dolfsma and Dannreuther 2003[2]; Narayan 2002[3]; Narayan and Pritchett 1999[4]). Wallis (1998)[5] and Wallis and Crocker et al (1998)[6] referred to bonding capital as localized which he defined as being found among people who live in the same or adjacent communities, and bridging capital, which extends to individuals and organizations that are more removed. Bridging social capital is closely related to thin trust, as opposed to the bonding (splitting) social capital of thick trust (Anheier and Kendall 2002)[7]. Read more about the differences between bonding and bridging social capital, or about the approaches to conceptualising and measuring bonding/bridging social capital.

The other important distinction of social capital, developed by Norman Uphoff and Wijayaratna (2000)[8] spans the range from structural manifestations of social capital to cognitive ones (Grootaert and Van Bastelaer 2002a)[9]. Structural social capital facilitates mutually beneficial collective action through established roles and social networks supplemented by rules, procedures and precedents (Hitt et al. 2002)[10]. Cognitive social capital, which includes shared norms, values, attitudes, and beliefs, predisposes people towards mutually beneficial collective action (Krishna and Uphoff 2002[11]; Uphoff 1999[12]). Cognitive and structural forms of social capital are commonly connected and mutually reinforcing (Uphoff and Wijayaratna 2000).

There are numerous other examples in the literature; for example, whether its ties are strong (intensive and repeated) or weak (temporary and contingent); vertical (operating through formal hierarchical structures) or horizontal (in which authority is more decentralized); open (civically engaged and exercising open membership) or closed (protective and exercising closed membership); geographically dispersed or circumscribed; and instrumental (membership as social collateral for individual wants) or principled (membership as bounded solidarity) (Heffron 2000)[13]. These varieties of types of social capital require further exploration to establish a widely agreed upon framework, vital for empirical analysis (Van Deth 2003)[14].

See a further explanation of the different types of social capital.

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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  1. Aldridge, Stephen, David Halpern, and Sarah Fitzpatrick. 2002. Social Capital: A Discussion Paper. London, England: Performance and Innovation Unit. ^
  2. Dolfsma, Wilfred, and Charlie Dannreuther. 2003. ‘Subjects and boundaries: Contesting social capital-based policies.’ Journal of Economic Issues 37: 405-413. ^
  3. Narayan, Deepa. 2002. “Bonds and bridges: social capital and poverty.” in Social Capital and Economic Development: Well-being in Developing Countries, edited by Sunder Ramaswamy. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar. ^
  4. Narayan, Deepa, and Lant Pritchett. 1999. “Social capital: Evidence and implications.” Pp. 269-296 in Social Capital: A multifaceted perspective, edited by Ismail Serageldin. Washington, DC: World Bank. ^
  5. Wallis, Allan. 1998. “Social capital and community building.(Building Healthier Communities: Ten Years of Learning)(part 2).” National Civic Review 87: 317-19. ^
  6. Wallis, Allan, Jarle P. Crocker, and Bill Schechter. 1998. “Social capital and community building, part 1.” National Civic Review 87: 253-72. ^
  7. Anheier, Helmut, and Jeremy Kendall. 2002. ‘Interpersonal Trust and Voluntary Associations.’ British Journal of Sociology 53: 343-362. ^
  8. Uphoff, Norman, and C. M. Wijayaratna. 2000. “Demonstrated Benefits from Social Capital: The Productivity of Farmer Organizations in Gal Oya, Sri Lanka.” World Development 28: 1875-1890. ^
  9. Grootaert, Christiaan, and Thierry Van Bastelaer. 2002a. ‘Conclusion: measuring impact and drawing policy implications.’ Pp. 341 – 350 in The Role of Social Capital in Development, edited by Thierry Van Bastelaer. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press. ^
  10. Hitt, Michael A, Ho-Uk Lee, and Emre Yucel. 2002. ‘The importance of social capital to the management of multinational enterprises: Relational networks among Asian and Western firms.” Asia Pacific Journal of Management 19: 353. ^
  11. Krishna, Anirudh, and Norman Uphoff. 2002. ‘Mapping and measuring social capital through assessment of collective action to conserve and develop watersheds in Rajasthan, India.” Pp. 85 – 88, 115 – 124 in The Role of Social Capital in Development, edited by Thierry Van Bastelaer. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press. ^
  12. Uphoff, Norman. 1999. “Understanding social capital: Learning from the analysis and experience of participation.” Pp. 215-253 in Social Capital: A multifaceted perspective, edited by Ismail Serageldin. Washington, DC: World Bank. ^
  13. Heffron, John M. 2000. ‘Beyond community and society: The externalities of social capital building.’ Policy Sciences 33: 477-494. ^
  14. Van Deth, Jan W. 2003. “Measuring social capital: orthodoxies and continuing controversies.” International Journal of Social Research Methodology 6: 79. ^

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