Two Decades of Social Capital: Where is this Concept Going?

By Ignacio Macedo Castillejos.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

After 20 years that social capital was conceptualised, the current development of this concept seems to be ambiguous. Hence, this paper addresses the following research questions: Does social capital has achieved a common understanding among scholars and practitioners? How is this concept being used among scholars to address development issues? Is it possible to assert that the concept of social capital is consolidated as analytical framework? Thus, the aim of this work is to know the current state social capital as analytical framework to address development issues. Specifically, it is attempted to know the way that social scientists understand and apply the concept of social capital. The author finds out how scholars and policy analysts identify social capital, measure social capital, promote the creation of social capital, and link the concept to different theoretical frameworks. In order to do this, it was carefully examined the most referenced research articles on social capital. The main conclusion is that effective interdisciplinary research based on social capital concept requires a well defined theoretical framework. Therefore, it is necessary to differentiate explicitly Bourdieu, Coleman and Putnam’s perspectives. It is not desirable to continue in the anarchical way that has followed the development of this concept over the last 20 years. Just as physical capital is clearly associated to specific characteristics of tools and machines; or human capital is associated to academic credentials and abilities; social capital must be specified in a similar way. It is crucial to create basic “standards” or “codes” of understanding between scholars of different areas or with different backgrounds. Thus, it is necessary to stop using social capital in the multiples ways it has being used.

Keywords: Social Capital, Coleman, Bourdieu, Putnam, Social Research, Institutional Economics, Social Networks, Development Studies

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp.243-258. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.595MB).

Ignacio Macedo Castillejos

Research Postgraduate, School of Development Studies, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK

Ignacio Macedo Castillejos is a researcher specialized in the analysis of public policies. His expertise includes research and consulting activities on program and project evaluation techniques, sustainable development strategies, and information management strategies.Ignacio has worked as National Consultant for FAO in Mexico, and he is partner of Intervención Estratégica Consultores S.A. a Mexico City-based consulting firm. He has been lecturer of Economic Policy at Autonomous Metropolitan University (UAM, Mexico) and has participated as project researcher for the Research and Teaching Centre in Economics (CIDE, Mexico). Currently Ignacio is postgraduate researcher of the School of Development Studies at University of East Anglia, UK. His research is sponsored by the National Council of Science and Technology of the Mexican Government (CONACYT).ACADEMIC BACKGROUND Ignacio is Economist graduated with honours in the Autonomous Metropolitan University (UAM, Mexico). He holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Public Administration from the Research and Teaching Centre in Economics (CIDE, Mexico) as well as a Master’s degree in International Development from The University of East Anglia (UEA, UK). As postgraduate student he participated in an exchange program with the School of Public Affairs of the University of Baltimore, (UB, USA).

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