The Troika of Sociology, Political Science and Economics
Edited by Gert Tingaard Svendsen and Gunnar Lind Haase Svendsen
1 Veronica Nyhan Jones and Michael Woolcock Introduction Social capital, in its best forms, contributes to economic, social and political development by enabling information-sharing, mitigating opportunistic behavior and facilitating collective decision-making (Woolcock and Narayan, 2000). Although theoretical and conceptual debates properly continue, and will be unlikely to ever reach a clean resolution (Szreter and Woolcock, 2004), these have occurred alongside eﬀorts to enhance the quality and scale of empirical data available to assess the claims (and counterclaims) made regarding the eﬃcacy of social capital, especially in the ﬁeld of international development. The range of data sources now spans the full gamut of social science, from national household surveys, historical records and ﬁeld experiments to case studies, key informant interviews and ethnographic investigations; all have been deployed in an eﬀort to better understand the nature and extent of social relations in particular communities, its trajectories over time, and its consequences for human welfare. Most research conducted on social capital in developing (and, for that matter, developed) countries, however, has been conducted using a single methodological instrument (for example, surveys or participant observation). With the notable exception of Anirudh Krishna (2002, 2007), researchers have worked predominantly with either quantitative or qualitative methods, a consequence being that opportunities for fruitful exchange between approaches have been lost. Moreover, the actual content of the tools used to collect data on social capital – as opposed to the ﬁnal results obtained from them – have rarely been disclosed or made available to other researchers to...
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