In part by Jack…
In the book Bowling Alone, author Putnam, talks a great deal about the glue that holds a society together and allows it to thrive. Those things are generalized in the term social capital, in the finance world this would be money. But, what is it in a social setting?
Social capital refers to connections, networks, and relations among people, especially when those links are enriched by civic virtue and deepened by reciprocal obligation. None of these forms of capital appears out of the blue. Nor can they be taken for granted. It takes attention, effort, and commitment to provide, grow, and enhance them.
A society that expects to thrive can ill afford to be without sound social capital, for that resource fosters what Putnam calls “sturdy norms of reciprocity.” At the heart of those norms is a sense of mutual trust. Where such trust is found, people can count on each other for help, support, and commitment that encourage and create shared causes. Quoting baseball’s Yogi Berra, Putnam says that the reciprocal features of social capital he has in mind are largely summed up in the adage: “If you don’t go to somebody’s funeral, they won’t come to yours.”
Putnam’s analysis of social capital highlights three further points. First, social capital is not unequivocally good. Social networks, even reciprocal obligations, can serve causes that are unjust and destructive. Putnam wants to minimize the forms and functions of social capital that promote “sectarianism, ethnocentrism, corruption” and bolster those that encourage “mutual support, cooperation, trust, institutional effectiveness.” Trump’s 4th of July parade was designed to generate pride, trust and support. Did it meet its goals? If not, what would you suggest?
- Ethnocentrism - Sociology. the belief in the inherent superiority of one’s own ethnic group or culture. a tendency to view alien groups or cultures from the perspective of one’s own. Another word for tribalism.
- Sectarianism – excessive attachment to a particular sect or party. Another form of fanaticism.