Handbook on the Economics of Reciprocity and Social Enterprise
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Handbook on the Economics of Reciprocity and Social Enterprise

Edited by Luigino Bruni and Stefano Zamagni

The recent era of economic turbulence has generated a growing enthusiasm for an increase in new and original economic insights based around the concepts of reciprocity and social enterprise. This stimulating and thought-provoking Handbook not only encourages and supports this growth, but also emphasises and expands upon new topics and issues within the economics discourse.
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Chapter 34: Spiritual capital

André Habisch


The notion of ‘spiritual capital’ sounds like an oxymoron: ‘spiritual’ originates from the Latin spiritus (translated from Greek Pneuma and Hebrew Ruach) and has the implication of ‘supernatural being’ or ‘essential principle’. In the Western-Christian tradition ‘spirit or spirituality’ expresses the living, creative, spontaneous, challenging character of God’s (‘Holy spirit’) presence or the corresponding orientation of the human person or community. Spirituality grants orientation, ‘inspiration’ and sense making. On the other hand ‘capital’ in its classical economic context is one of three (the others are: labour, land) factors of production. As input in the production function of an individual or household (capital stock) it originates from previous production and enhances the ability to perform productive activities in the future (capital flow). Thus, while ‘spiritual’ has implications of a challenging, unforeseen reality, requiring an attitude of careful attention and questioning; ‘capital’ is something known and disposable whose wise usage requires rational calculation. For the basic economic activity of optimal capital usage all relevant information have to be known – while the spiritual dimension represents the essential non-availability of relevant factors. Spiritual capital is defined here as those individual as well as collective endowments of sense making, inspiration and innovation, which allow for continuous economic effort and ensure successful business cooperation and integrated human development. Spiritual capital is often nurtured by but not necessarily linked with institutionalized religion.

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