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The Handbook of Political, Social, and Economic Transformation$
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Wolfgang Merkel, Raj Kollmorgen, and Hans-Jürgen Wagener

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198829911

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198829911.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 17 June 2021

Social Capital

Social Capital

(p.642) Chapter 73 Social Capital
The Handbook of Political, Social, and Economic Transformation

Kenneth Newton

Oxford University Press

Social capital, which is built upon trust, social networks, and the coordination of collective action, is said to be the glue binding society together and the lubricant that facilitates frictionless democratic government. General social trust—trust in strangers and people unlike ourselves—helps to breed political trust and vice versa, and together they help to build and maintain democratic government, the norms of civic engagement, and confidence in government institutions. This chapter examines the theoretical and practical problems to be resolved. Do the causal arrows run upwards from individuals to institutions or downwards from institutions to individuals? If the bottom-up approach is accepted, then social engineering must concentrate on raising levels of education and wealth. The top-down approach requires building state institutions that are impartial, corruption-free, and transparent. Either way, the intractable problems of bootstraps and social traps must be solved.

Keywords:   social capital, trust, social engineering, institution building, virtuous cycles, vicious cycles

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