Social capital : Implication For Development Theory, Research and Policy
By Michael Woolcok
What is Social Capital :
“its not what you know, it is who you know.” This is common aphorhism sums up much of the conventional widom regarding social capital. It is wisdom bornexperience – that gaining membershio or exclusive clubs requires inside contacts, this clos competetion for job and contract are usually won by those with friends in high places. When people fall on hard times, they know it is thei friends and family who constitute the final safety net.
A defining feature of being poor, moreover is that not a member of – or even be activly excluded from – certain social network and intitutions that cold be usg to secur good jobs and decend housing.
Social capital refers to norms and network tsht enable people to act collectively. This simple of definitions of social capital
1. it focus on the sources, rather than the consequences, of socaial capital while recognizing that important features of social capital, such as trust andd reciporcity, are developed in an inteative process.
2. this definition permits the incorporation of different dimensions of social capital and recognizes that communities can ave acses to more or less of them. Different combintions of bonding and bridging social captal that are responsible for the range of outcomes observed above and incorporates a dynamic component which in optimal combinations cahange over time.
3. While this definition present the community as the primary unit of analysis, it recognizas the individuals and household can nonetheless appropriate soial capital and that the way communities themselves are structred truns in large part on their relationship with the state.
The conceptualization of te role of social relationshop in development represents an important departure from earlier theoritical approaches and therefore as important implications for contemporary development research and policy. These prespectives, which focused on the stategic choices o rational individuals interating under various time, budgetary, and legal constraints, held that groups existed primarily to lower the transaction cost of change; given undistroted market signals, the optimal size and combination would duly emerge.
FOUR PERSPECTIVES ON SOCIAL CAPITAL AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
This final category and related work in political and new institutional economics. Research on social capital and economic development can be categorized into four distinct perspectives: the communication view, the networks view, and the synergi view.
The Communication View
The Communitarian perspective equates social capital with such local organizations as clubs, associations and civic groups. Communitarians, who look at the number and destiny of this groups in a given community, hold that social capital is inherntly good, that more is better, and that is prescences always has a possitive effect on a community’s welfare. This prespective has made important contributions to analyses of proverty by stressing the centralit of socalties in helping the poor manage risk and vulnerability.
The networks view
A Second Prespective on social capital, which attempts to account for both its upside and its downside, stress the importance of vertical as well as horizontal associations between people and of relations within and among such orgnizational entities as community group and firms.
The Institutional View
A Thrid Prespective of social capital, institutional view, argues that the vitality of community networks and civil society il largely product of the political, legal and the institutional enviroment. where the communitarian and the networks prespectives largerly treat social capital as an indapendent variable giving rise to various outcomes, both good and bad, the institutional view instead views social capital as a dependent variable.
The Sinergy View
Sinergy view whih atempts to integrate the compelling work emerging fro the networks and institutional camps. Although the synergy view trace its intectual atencedent to earlier work in comparative political economy and anthropology, its most influential body of research was published in a special issue of world development.
For Views of Social Capital on table
Perspective Actors Policy Prescriptions
Local Associations Community groups
Voluntary Organizations Small Is Beautifull
Recognize Social assets of the poor
Bonding and Bridging Communities Entrepreuneurs
Informations Brokers Decentralize
Brige Social Divides
Political and Legal Institutions Private and Public Sectors Grant Civil and political liberties institute transparancy, accontability
Community Networks and state society relations Community Groups, civil soviet, firms, states Coproduction, complementarity Participations, linkages Enhance capacity and scale of local organizations
Measuring Social Capital
Several recent inovative studies have attempted to quantify social capital and its contribution to economic developments. True measure of social capital is probaly not possible of several reasons:
1. The most comperhensive definitions of socaial capital are multidimensional, incorporating differents unit of analysis.
2. the nature and forms of social capital change over time as the balance shifts beetwen informal organizations and formal institutions.
3. because no long standing cross surveys were initially designed to measure social capital, contemporary researchers have had to compile indexes from a range of approximate items. Several excllent studies have identified useful measure of, and proxies for social capital however.
Implications For Development Theory and Policy
Six Broad recommendations can be offered for incorporating the concept of social capital into development policy
1. For development interventions in all sectors and at all lvel (especially the country level), social intitutional analysis should be used to identify correctly the range steakholders and their interrelations.
2. its is critical to inverst in the organizational capacity of the poor and to help build bridges beetwen communities and social groups.
3. Social capital prespective adds its voice to those calling for information disclosure policies at all levels to encourage informed citizenship and accountability of both private and public actors who purport to serve the public good.
4. improvements in physical accses and modern communications technology that can foster information excahnge across soia groups should be emphasized to complement social interaction based on face to fece interchange.
5. development interventions should be viewed through a social capital lens, and assments of their impact should include the potential effect of the intrventions on social capital of poor communities.
6. Finally Social Capital should be seen a component of orthodox development [rojects, froms dams and irrigation system to local schools and health clinics. Where poor communities have direct input into the design, impleantationm manageent, and evaluation of project are enhanced.