13 Sep 2014

What is low social capital?

Low social capital could be described as any situation where there is a lack of social structure and organisation, and or where people are prone to act antisocially. Simply put social capital is the productive benefits of sociability. So, when people act or are likely to act antisocially we could describe the context as having low social capital.

Social capital includes both structural and cognitive elements. The structural elements include factors such as networks, organisations, rules, and roles that provide the opportunity and context for social interaction. Cognitive elements include mental or attitudinal factors such as trust and norms that influence human behaviour towards others.

Therefore, low social capital could be a lack of networks, rules, and roles, and could be low trust and norms that promote low collaboration and antisocial behaviour.

Social capital is extremely complex so the presence of any factor does not necessarily result in high social capital. For example, rules may limit positive behaviour or result in exclusion, strong norms may encourage negative behaviours, and high levels of trust may facilitate corruption rather than prevent it.

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