Chapter 9: Social Capital Creation: Collective Identities and Collective Action
Roderick M. Kramer For a proper understanding of collective action, the existence of a collective identity should be recognized. (Gupta et al., 1997, p. 301) The quality of community life depends, in no small measure, on the willingness of its members to cooperate with each other. Such cooperation can assume many forms, including sharing vital information, conserving scarce resources and contributing to public goods. When members of a community are reluctant to cooperate in such a fashion, multiple problems arise. In extreme instances, such failures of cooperation and information-sharing can have even more catastrophic and tragic results, as the 9/11 Commission Report Investigating Terrorist Attacks in the United States concluded. The importance of social capital to organizational performance is well established. However, without strong cooperation between individuals, social capital would not exist. This chapter asserts that identiﬁcation with the collective facilitates social capital creation. It explores the theoretical and empirical underpinnings for this idea and puts forth an integrated framework that shows how individuals’ social identities – and the connection of those identities with the collective – inﬂuence their willingness to contribute, or not contribute, to the reservoir of social capital available to that collective. It also draws on conceptual insights and empirical ﬁndings from several closely related streams of social psychological theory and research, including social identity theory, the Common Ingroup Identity model, self-categorization theory, and related theories pertaining to the social nature of the self.1 As described in Chapter 1 of this book, ‘What is social capital?’...
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