Social Capital

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry in encyclopedia/dictionarypeer-review


The core idea of social capital is that one’s group relations/memberships play a significant role in facilitating purposive action and attaining desirable ends; this is has many precedents, but its conceptual salience is fairly recent and dates back to the 1980s. There has been since an explosion of the social capital literature, coupled with its spectacular uptake by many policymaking constituencies. Despite the many variations and uses there is a polarization in the history – and present – of ‘social capital’ that tends to be either underplayed or overlooked: that between the critical version originating with Bourdieu and Coleman’s functionalist/normative version and its subsequent offshoots (e.g. Putnam) prominent in the English-speaking world. Although in its dominant version social capital can be ideologically invested and conceptually questionable, it is still important to reclaim it as a critical analytic tool to uncover and explain how social inequalities are sustained and reproduced via relational resources.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWiley-Blackwell’s Encyclopedia of Sociology, Second Edition
EditorsGeorge Ritzer
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2015


Dive into the research topics of 'Social Capital'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this