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 16: The Labour Market

Fabio Sabatini


* Fabio Sabatini 16.1 Introduction The positive role of social capital in economic development is now commonly acknowledged in the scientific and political debate. However, both social capital and economic development must be looked on as multidimensional concepts: the definition of what type of social capital may provide a positive contribution to the wealth and progress of a society is still a subject of major contention. One of the most popular definitions of social capital refers to the set of ‘features of social life – networks, norms, and trust – that enable participants to act together more effectively to pursue shared objectives’ (Putnam, 1995). Drawing on more than a decade of empirical investigations, the literature has classified the elements in the set into three main types of social capital: bonding, bridging and linking. Bonding social capital relates to networks between homogeneous groups of people, quite close to outsiders, that constrain members into their boundaries. Bridging networks are shaped by weak ties connecting people belonging to different socio-economic backgrounds. Examples are culture and sports clubs. Linking social capital refers to vertical connections with people in power, whether they are in politically or financially influential positions. Examples are voluntary organizations and social services agencies. Bonding social capital is generally considered as a source of backwardness, while bridging and linking ties are supposed to foster the diffusion of information and trust, with beneficial effects for economic activity and well-being. The economics literature on social capital generally...

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