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 7: Religio-philosophical Roots

Ralph Weber


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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