How do social connections impact quality of life in cities?
Social capital explores economic and social benefit that people receive as a result of being part of a network of connected individuals. Different types or features of social networks provide different benefits.
The two main types of social capital in the literature are “bonding” and “bridging” social capital. Bonding social capital is the benefit we get from being part of a group of individuals who are similar to ourselves. The benefits of bonding social capital are solidarity, deep trust and loyalty, and emotional and material support. Bridging social capital is the benefit we receive from being connected with a diverse and heterogeneous group of individuals. The benefits of bridging social capital are access to new information and assets, which increases employment opportunities, and increased openness and tolerance.
Social capital has been associated with many positive outcomes, such as trust, lower crime, economic growth, well-being, and physical health.
What Makes A Good City Forum
At the Cardus What Makes A Good City Forum we asked Cardus experts Milton Friesen, Andrew Bennett, and Andrea Mrozek to speak to this valuable question. Miss the event?
- Ostrom and Ahn
Elinor Ostrom and T.K. Ahn have written an excellent introduction to social capital for their substantive edited text. In particular, they note that we are in the early stages of trying to understand this very complex and elusive phenomena. It is, without question, worth reading.
Link to PDF of "Introduction"
Measurement of Social Capital - Sandra Franke (2005)
Though still largely unknown, this is a vital resource for the state of the craft a decade ago. There is a great deal in it that remains relevant to the ongoing exploration of measuring social capital, how it may impact policy, and what the road ahead may look like.
Link to report website.
Bowling Alone - Robert Putnam
Thorough review of the data on the decline in social connectedness in the U.S., and recommendations on how to reverse the trend. Strong emphasis on group membership and participation. Sparked attention outside of academic circles.
Link to book.
Democracy in America - de Tocqueville
Well worth a read, even if you only have time for a few sections (it is a better read than most books about the book). He looks at democratic America just before the Civil War and the institutions that fostered social capital among its citizens.
Link to free online version of book.
World Bank - Social Capital resources
World Bank Social Capital webpage – An example of a measurement environment and a good overview of social capital including how it relates to international development. However, the material is not current and online resources are many, many years out of date.
Link to World Bank website.