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Social Capital Essay

1222 words - 5 pages

Social capital is the is the social connections that allow for social interactions in which an individual has opportunities to build bonds, help others out, and affect change for the better. When the social engagement is reciprocated, it can produce benefits for the multiple individuals engaged in the activity and so further the circumstance of the society.
Robert D. Putnam, a political scientist and professor, contends in his essay titled “Bowling Alone: America's Declining Social Capital” that there has been a decline in the social capital over the last several decades. He names that are different factors to explain this, including changes in the workforce, mobility, demographics, and technology. However, mostly it is a change in the behaviors of people.
The presence of social capital in civically engaged communities leads to better socioeconomic situations and an improved general quality of life. In his own research, he also found that in Italy the “levels of effectiveness [in regional governments] varied dramatically” and relates to the existence of civic engagement. Social capital can only produce benefits if utilized, just as monetary capital does little if not reinvested in the economy. Even if someone has many contacts in their address book the benefits of social capital can only be realized if at least some of them are engaged for socialization regularly. When people disassociate from groups they are less socially engaged. Democracy does not work as intended if a potential voter does not voice their opinion at the ballot box. He states that “voter turnout, newspaper readership, membership in choral societies and football clubs” were activities prevalent in successful areas. (Putnam 67) These each require active participation by citizens.
In general, people can act in two different motives social wise. Altruism is the utter devotion to bettering the lives of others. Its highest virtue is selflessness. Egoism, or selfishness, is the devotion to acting for one’s own well-being. To some degree someone can act in ways that benefit both themselves and others, but they would only have a single motive for their efforts. An individual can work for them self but with helping others in mind. Those are the particular capitalists that utilize the markets for profits then give some too much of their accumulated wealth in philanthropy are an example. Folks can work for them self and only benefit others when it serves to help them self. These would be the greedy capitalists. Opposed to each of these, an individual can just work for them self, and perhaps their family, then leave society to itself. Certainly, acting with the salvation of others in mind will be more socially responsible. A selfish person is the kind of person I believe society does not want to exist. The completely anti-social person would not reap any benefits of society, but they would not contribute to nor experience its deficits either.
There are times where trying to help others,...

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