Social Capital
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Social Capital

Reaching Out, Reaching In

Edited by Viva Ona Bartkus and James H. Davis

This book showcases new innovative research in economics, politics, sociology, and management regarding the topic. Leading scholars from a variety of disciplines present ground-breaking new research exploring the still-undiscovered value of social capital. The book employs a self-consciously multi-disciplinary approach to address two objectives: reaching out and reaching in. Through theoretical and empirical scholarship, the authors explore the many contexts in which the phenomenon can have impact. In effect, social capital research reaches out to issues of economic well-being, civic participation, educational achievement, knowledge and norm formation, and competitive advantage. Further, the authors investigate the many connections between the core themes of social capital and the pillars on which it rests, including structural networks, cognition, relationships and trust. This book is fundamentally about bridging – bridging across disciplines, units of analysis, and themes.
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Chapter 12: Understanding Social Capital: In Whom do we Trust?

Darryl Stickel, Roger C. Mayer and Sim B. Sitkin


Darryl Stickel, Roger C. Mayer and Sim B. Sitkin Since the 1990s there has been a growing interest in social capital, as evidenced by the chapters in this volume. In tandem with the interest has been a concern: empirical evidence shows trends that people are less likely to join groups, invest time and energy in community projects, or volunteer for a wide variety of causes. Overall, US society seems to be experiencing a more general decline in social capital being. That is, people are investing less time to create ‘the set of trust, institutions, social norms, social networks, and organizations that shape the interactions of actors within a society and are an asset for the individual and collective production of well-being’ (Sabatini, 2006). Social capital’s decline is of particular concern because of the wideranging benefits associated with high levels of social capital, including improved children’s welfare, education, safety, economic prosperity, public health, individual well-being and democracy. With healthy social capital, we can also expect more flexible and timely responses to new issues because: ‘[a]ccumulated social trust allows groups and organizations, and even nations, to develop the tolerance sometimes needed to deal with conflicts and differing interests’ (Cox, 1995). High levels of social capital also seem to correlate with more efficient and effective organizations, communities and governments. Despite the growing body of literature on this topic and increasing levels of concern expressed by scholars and government leaders, little progress seems to have been made in...

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