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The Structure of Social Capital: An Austrian Perspective on its Nature and Development

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  • Emily Chamlee-Wright
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    Abstract

    As the literature on social capital has emerged over the past two decades, both advocates and critics of the concept have grappled with the question 'what is the nature of “social capital?”'. By viewing this question through the lens of Austrian capital theory (particularly under Lachmann's influence) we can understand social capital as being structural in nature, made up of heterogeneous and often complementary elements. This way of thinking about social capital opens the door for understanding the role of the 'social entrepreneur' as discovering new combinations within the social capital structure. By carving out a role for the change agent, we see social capital development as a process of social learning that extends the cognitive reach of individuals beyond what they can know directly. An Austrian approach to social capital advances the theoretical debate by linking the literature on network analysis (in which the focus is on individualistic accumulation of social capital) and broader questions of social capital embedded within community-wide norms. Further, an Austrian understanding of social capital informs policy debates, such as the question of whether social capital development can be, or needs to be, part of a deliberate development strategy.

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    File URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09538250701661806
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Review of Political Economy.

    Volume (Year): 20 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 41-58

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    Handle: RePEc:taf:revpoe:v:20:y:2008:i:1:p:41-58

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    Cited by:
    1. Christopher Coyne & Russell Sobel & John Dove, 2010. "The non-productive entrepreneurial process," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer, vol. 23(4), pages 333-346, December.
    2. Paul Lewis & Emily Chamlee-Wright, 2008. "Social embeddedness, social capital and the market process: An introduction to the special issue on Austrian economics, economic sociology and social capital," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer, vol. 21(2), pages 107-118, September.
    3. Shideler, David W. & Kraybill, David S., 2009. "Social capital: An analysis of factors influencing investment," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 443-455, June.
    4. Sanford Ikeda, 2008. "The meaning of “social capital” as it relates to the market process," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer, vol. 21(2), pages 167-182, September.
    5. Anthony Carilli & Christopher Coyne & Peter Leeson, 2008. "Government intervention and the structure of social capital," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer, vol. 21(2), pages 209-218, September.

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