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The role of commonalities in social capital

Exploring Social Capital Podcast
Exploring Social Capital Podcast
The role of commonalities in social capital

Ep 8. Commonalities are an important part of many theories of social capital. For example, bonding social capital is often understood as connections between people who are similar. And the concept of homophily is often cited. Other theories may refer to shared understandings – that is, understandings that we share – and therefore have in common.

Tristan and Lindon delve into the importance of these commonalities, noting that for a commonality to be effective in creating connections, it must lead to significant exchanges, which they refer to as relational goods—intangible signals that satisfy social and emotional needs. They also discuss how simply being in the same context, such as a yearbook or plane ride, can foster connections if there is meaningful interaction.

The conversation shifts to the idea that symbols and shared experiences, such as those found in organizations like Rotary, can create strong bonds even among strangers. These symbols carry embedded relational goods that facilitate connections without direct interaction. They also touch on the role of brokers or intermediaries in forming connections between people who share a common acquaintance.

Tristan and Lindon acknowledge that while finding commonalities can often lead to positive relationships, it can also lead to competitive or negative outcomes. Shared antipathy towards something can create a quick but superficial bond, which may not be lasting or meaningful. They emphasize the importance of understanding the nature and quality of commonalities in fostering genuine and lasting social capital.

The episode concludes with a reflection on the dynamic nature of relationships and the importance of intentional effort in building and maintaining meaningful connections.



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