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.

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