When we started SoCe Life, we didn't know what social capital was. But as we began our work of connecting neighbors, a few of our mentors said, "You're building social capital." To which we said, "Great! What is it?" I recently came across an excellent article from the Harvard Kennedy School, which gives some accessible explanation to the phrase. Here is what I found:
"The central premise of social capital is that social networks have value. Social capital refers to the collective value of all 'social networks' [who people know] and the inclinations that arise from these networks to do things for each other ['norms of reciprocity']."
Historically, I doubt people talked about social capital because there has never been a time when people could be as independent as we are today. And now we are starting to see the consequences of that independence.
They continue by explaining how social capital works.
"The term social capital emphasizes not just warm and cuddly feelings, but a wide variety of quite specific benefits that flow from the trust, reciprocity, information, and cooperation associated with social networks. Social capital creates value for the people who are connected and, at least sometimes, for bystanders as well."
Still confused? Fear not, the next post will have specific examples.