The Troika of Sociology, Political Science and Economics
Edited by Gert Tingaard Svendsen and Gunnar Lind Haase Svendsen
Chapter 7: Religio-philosophical Roots
Ralph Weber Introduction Throughout the ever-growing corpus of literature on social capital, two very diﬀerent ways of thinking and writing stand out in the social sciences. One makes use of the concept of social capital heuristically, that is, as analytical tool, to investigate an actor’s resources that originate from that actor’s relation to a speciﬁc social structure; the other conceives of social capital as a measurable entity present in diﬀerent social groups in varying quantities – often, but not always, the higher the quantity the better for the group. To divide the wide-ranging debates over social capital into these two camps is simplifying, but demarcates a major dividing line, on the one side or the other of which every social scientist concerned with social capital chieﬂy falls. This division is also useful for structuring the present religio-philosophical reﬂection on social capital. Such reﬂection is indeed apposite. For reasons of expediency or, worse, ignorance, social scientists of both camps more often than not disregard religious and philosophical thought and relegate their own research’s contingency to the background. This chapter seeks to illustrate – by adopting a Confucian viewpoint – how religio-philosophical reﬂection may contribute to making social enquiry more eﬀective. Little if any of the existing literature on social capital that deals with religion or philosophy targets the concept itself. Yet, regardless whether social capital is used as tool applied to some social structure or whether it is taken as entity to be measured across di...
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