Close this search box.

What are the different types of social capital?

The different types of social capital are typically defined as structural social capital, cognitive social capital, and relational social capital. Another common categorisation of social capital is the following types: bonding social capital, bridging social capital, and linking social capital.

The taxonomic refinements have been described as types of social capital, as forms of social capital, as dimensions of social capital, and as functions of social capital.

While defining different types of social capital can have descriptive value, each ‘type’ is not distinct and exclusive – there is significant overlap and interrelationships between each type.

The structural/relational/cognitive types of social capital have become the most common refinement of types of social capital. It is based on Janine Nahapiet and Sumantra Ghoshal’s theoretical work that built on Granovetter’s (1992) discussion of structural and relational embeddedness and Uphoff (1999) distinction between structural and cognitive social capital.

The bonding/bridging/linking types is also common however only relates to the structural dimension of social capital as a means to classify different types of social ties between individuals. It has most relevance for the network approach that seeks to understand social capital as ties between individuals.

About the Author

More Articles

Lindon Robison

The High Cost of Cheap Social Capital

This paper briefly reviews the theory of social, negative, and cheap social capital and then explains the popularity and the high cost of cheap social capital. Next, this paper points out that our voluntary exchanges (which are enabled by prospects of mutual gain) and the high cost of involuntary exchanges (which are entered into in response to threats and defensive and destructive acts) both reflect our responses to the same physical and socio-emotional needs. Therefore, what differentiates our responses to similar needs are the relationships we have with others—whether they are social, negative, or cheap. Finally, this paper offers some suggestions for avoiding the high cost of cheap social capital.

Read More »
Lindon Robison

The Cheap Side of Social Capital

Earned, inherited, and covenant commonalities enable persons and groups of people to develop sympathy and empathy for each other. The sympathy and empathy that one person or group has for another person or group is defined here as social capital. The absence of commonalities often results in relationships of apathy and antipathy that one person or group has for another person or group, defined here as negative social capital. People and groups that share negative social capital for the same person or group can form cheap social capital relationships characterized by the couplet—the enemy of my enemy is my strange bedfellow.

Read More »
Tristan Claridge

Introduction to Social Capital for Researchers

Webinar This session provides a foundation for understanding what social capital is, where it comes from, and what it does as well as some of the challenges of reading the literature and conducting research on social capital. The session is

Read More »
Receive the latest news

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get occasional updates about social capital related events and publications.