Capital is something that carries value, and the term is used coterminously in different concepts like human capital, economic capital, or cultural capital.
Social capital, in that sense, is the aggregate value of a network of social relationships, more or less institutionalized, which are based on civic norms, generalized social trust, and understandings that facilitate coordinationcooperationation for mutual benefit.
OECD defines Social Capital as "networks together with shared norms, values, and understanding that facilicooperationation within and among groups."
Social Capital is a part of our life.
GENESIS: "Social capital" may have first appeared in a book published in 1916 in the U.S. that discussed how neighbors could work together to oversee schools. The term got famous after the publication of Robert Putman's bestseller, BOWLING ALONE: THE COLLAPSE AND REVIVAL OF AMERICAN COMMUNITY in 2000.
VARIETIES OF SOCIAL CAPITAL: Despite having debates on its various forms, it can be divided into three states.
1. BONDS: Links to people based on a sense of common identities such as family and close friends and people who share our culture or ethnicity.
2. BRIDGES: Links that stretch beyond a shared understanding of identity, for example, to distant friends, colleagues, and associates.
3. LINKAGES: Links to people or groups further up or lower down the social ladder.
BENEFITS OF HAVING SOCIAL CAPITAL:
1. SOCIAL VALUES: Getting in a friendly environment and helping, sharing, and caring about our fellow humans helps us to become less ego-driven, individualistic, or self-centered. It develops values like humility, honesty, trust, justice, transparency, responsibility, and patience in us.
Social capital promotes togetherness.
2. LEADERSHIP QUALITY AND SOCIAL ACTIVISM: It helps a person to mobilize people around a common goal. E.g., Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln, etc. used their social capital effectively.
3. RESPONSIBILITY AND DEDICATION: We tend to become more responsive towards the needs of others and social problems like p0llution, poverty, hunger, epidemics, etc. become our collective responsibility.
4. VOLUNTEERISM: Social capital promote humanism, care, helpfulness in us. This results in philanthropism, the rise of voluntary sector organizations, including NGOs and Charities.
5. ADMINISTRATION: Good social capital helps administrator to gain acceptability for the initiatives taken, makes it easier to implement and sustain projects, helpful in controlling adverse situation like crowd management, improve people participation in administration and enhance a sense of ownership and accountability.
6. STRENGTHENING RELATIONS AT INTERNATIONAL LEVEL: Soft power diplomacy or humanitarian assistance works in enhancing social capital among countries. This results in better diasporic relations, welfare-relcooperationation, value-driven geopolitics, etc.
THE NEW ECONOMY: BEYOND THE HYPE writes that "social capital provides the glue which facilitcooperationation, exchange, and innovation."
However, its critics argue that social capital can lead to a situation of strong in-groups where it creates a perception of, WE AGAINST THEM. It sometimes leads to suspicion, xenophobia, discrimination, or even sub-regional tendencies.
Human and social capital can't exist in isolation. Times like Covid-19 require collective action and responsibility. Social Capital might have its share of pros and cons, but if it is harnessed and utilized correctly, it can pave the way for the world not just to fight this ongoing pandemic but also to come out of this even more decisive and bolder.
Social capital promotes caring.
Please, maintain harmony during this crisis.