The CAPITAL in Social Capital: An Austrian Perspective
In recent decades economists started discovering the importance of the social dimension of economic interactions. Contemporary economics has borrowed several sociological concepts for its own use, among the most important being the concept of social capital. However, this transfer within disciplines did not occur without a loss-the nature of social capital in economics remains confused and obscure. The purpose of this article is to clarify it, specify the possibilities for its use, and discuss their limits. It is argued that economics once also possessed a view of human beings that was more "socialized" than the modern neoclassical "Homo oeconomicus," and that this more "socialized" view still exists in the Austrian school of economics. Because this tradition of economic thought has also developed an elaborate capital theory, it can serve as an ideal source where we can look for inspiration in the current social capital debate. First, social capital is (re)defined along these lines as an individual's asset connected with recognized reciprocity (as opposed to interactions usually classified as "altruistic"). Then major critical claims about the relation between social and physical capital are answered and the connection between social capital, trust, and social norms is described. Copyright © 2010 American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Inc..
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Volume (Year): 69 (2010)
Issue (Month): 4 (October)
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