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Social Capital

Social science studies of social capital exploded in the 1990s, triggered to a large extent by the public visibility of sociologist Robert Putnam’s 1995 book Bowling Alone. While less revolutionary today, contemporary research on social capital continues as part of the broad agenda focusing on the role of social interactions mechanisms in determining individual choices. Social capital has, in effect, transitioned from being a “new” to a “normal” area of the social sciences. The focus on mechanisms, in turn, calls into question the value of the social capital rubric.

What Is Social Capital?

While empirical studies of social capital are based on well-defined proxies, from the perspective of theory, social capital continues to be an ambiguous term. As noted by Alejandro Portes, some early authors conceptualized ...

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