Handbook of Social Capital
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Handbook of Social Capital

The Troika of Sociology, Political Science and Economics

Edited by Gert Tingaard Svendsen and Gunnar Lind Haase Svendsen

The Handbook of Social Capital offers an important contribution to the study of bonding and bridging social capital networks, balancing the ‘troika’ of sociology, political science and economics. Eminent contributors, including Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom, explore the different scientific approaches required if international research is to embrace both the bright and the more shadowy aspects of social capital. The Handbook stresses the importance of trust for economies all over the world and contains a strong advocacy for cross-disciplinary work within the social sciences.
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Chapter 1: The Troika of Sociology, Political Science and Economics

Gert Tinggaard Svendsen and Gunnar Lind Haase Svendsen


Gert Tinggaard Svendsen and Gunnar Lind Haase Svendsen Many common efforts succeeded in accomplishing that task which many more isolated efforts were not able to accomplish. (Carl von Linné, translated from the Swedish in Ulrik, 1867) 1.1 The troika of social capital The Russian word troika (‘threesome’) denotes a sleigh or wagon pulled by three horses abreast. A simultaneous, harmonious and steady pull by all three horses sends the sleigh flying without exhausting the horses. In contrast, if one horse pulls too hard, or if one pulls less than the others, the sleigh will lose momentum and, at worst, overturn. The difficult act of driving a troika implies exact coordination, discipline and understanding to ensure smooth and skilful handling. We find that ‘troika’ is an appropriate metaphor for the three disciplines that have mostly ‘pulled’ social capital research, namely sociology, political science and economics. The main idea in this book is that the most important synergy effect of a balanced team of horses hitched in troika is to account for tangible as well as intangible assets or ‘forms of capital’ at the same level of analysis (cf. Bourdieu, 1986), thus overcoming the artificial demarcation between economic and non-economic areas of research. This means that intangible forms of capital, for example, cultural and social capital, should be accounted for alongside the more traditional, visible capitals such as physical and economic capital. In such an approach, culture is seen as no less economic than economics, and vice...

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