Emergence of the concept of ‘social capital’ into development literature dates back to the period of post-World War II. Since then it has received considerable attention among sociologists, economists and political scientists and has reputed for its capacity in delivering benefits such as welfare of the society, better care of children, improved government responses, better health care and lowering social injustice. Furthermore, it is considered as an emerging area of inquiry with agencies such as World Bank and the OECD.
The thrust of this paper however, is to emphasise the necessity to build social capital in developing world to empower the communities to have sufficient resources to hold their governments accountable and to facilitate their entry into market economies. To begin, I will be defining some of the basic terms used in the argument to provide theoretical grounding extracting most notable authors in this approach and then discuss the role of social capital in holding governments accountable followed by its role in market economy.
Definition of terms
The concept of social capital is multi-dimensional in nature and related to the social relationships in general. Therefore the structure of the relationship and quality of are important in dealing with social capital. The different magnitudes of it as studied by scholars in this sphere are discussed below to draw the definition for social capital.
Social Capital as Coleman (1989) defined by its function, “is not a single entity but a variety of different entities, with two elements in common: they all consist of some aspect of social structures, and they facilitate certain actions of actors-whether persons or corporate actors-within the structure”. Definition by Fukuyama (2001) reads as “social capital is an instantiated informal norm that promotes co-operation between two or more individuals. The norms that constitute social capital can range from a norm of reciprocity between two friends all the way up to complex and elaborately articulated doctrines like Christianity and Confucianism”. These definitions focus more the relations of an actor with other actors or in other words social capital as in relations with external links of an actor. Social capital is also defined in relation to internal links of an institution as Woolcock (1998) defines it as “the information, trust, and norms of reciprocity inhering in one’s social networks”. According to Portes (1998) “economic capital is in people’s bank accounts and human capital is inside their heads, social capital inheres in the structure of their relationships.”
Social capital – to hold governments accountable
According to my personal experience in Sri Lanka, the war with terrorism has ruined social capital of the country over three decades. There are many ethnicities living in the country therefore this social capital with their relationships, networks, values and norms within them could be utilized to achieve common goals such as...