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Social Capital's Roles In Community Building

781 words - 4 pages

Social capital plays a role in community building and economic development. Through grants, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation supports research on issues related to poverty. In 1996, the Mott Foundation awarded two grants in hopes of refining and redirecting the approach to community building. First, a grant was awarded to Robert Putnam to lead academicians, advocates, and practitioners in the exploration of ways to generate social capital and ultimately strengthen civil society. Second, another grant was awarded to the National Civic League (NCL) to teach community-based organizations how to perform their own evaluations.

This position paper examines the perspectives of ...view middle of the document...

Localized social capital results from informal daily interactions within organizations or communities. Generalized social capital connects organizations and communities to others, which Putnam termed as “bridging capital.” Although a community may have high localized social capital, it can still have low generalized social capital, which could lead to few economic opportunities. This results from a lack of connections to other communities. A “norm of civic engagement” binds these two types of social capital, and a broader civic agenda guides local interactions, effectively bridges to other groups, and ultimately achieves a civil society.

The second perspective is advocate (Wallis, Crocker, & Schechter, 1998). They are consultants who explain effects of new ideas, such as social capital, for particular “areas of practice” like community building through evaluation reports, position papers, or identification of best practices. From this perspective, there are two uses for the term social capital. First, it allows speculation of connections among various structural and functional relationships during community making. Social capital also helps explain why certain collaborations are successful, which relates to its importance in network resiliency and sustainability seen in Module 4. Second, it supports the argument that “soft processes and products” of community building need more attention and funding.

The third perspective is grant maker (Wallis, Crocker, & Schechter, 1998). They develop and monitor community-building programs at foundations. While most grant makers are aware of social capital, there is little consensus on its definition and...

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