IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Unpacking social capital in Economic Development: How social relations matter


  • Irene van Staveren
  • Peter Knorringa


Social capital is a contested concept, embraced by the mainstream as “the missing link” in economic analysis. This article suggests a way to turn it into a more meaningful understanding of how social relations matter in the economy. It will do so by unpacking the concept into various elements, distinguishing what social relations are from what they do, and by recognizing power in social relationships. We will illustrate our alternative approach with two case studies on the Small and Medium scale Enterprises (SME) footwear sector in Ethiopia and Vietnam. We conclude with suggestions on how this more contextual approach to the understanding of the economic influences of social relations may contribute to social economics.

Suggested Citation

  • Irene van Staveren & Peter Knorringa, 2007. "Unpacking social capital in Economic Development: How social relations matter," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 65(1), pages 107-135.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:rsocec:v:65:y:2007:i:1:p:107-135 DOI: 10.1080/00346760601132147

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gray, Wayne B. & Shadbegian, R.J.Ronald J., 2004. "'Optimal' pollution abatement--whose benefits matter, and how much?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 510-534, May.
    2. Alberto Alesina & Eliana La Ferrara, 2000. "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 847-904.
    3. Sigman, Hilary, 2001. "The Pace of Progress at Superfund Sites: Policy Goals and Interest Group Influence," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(1), pages 315-344, April.
    4. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1999. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1243-1284.
    5. Holger Sieg & V. Kerry Smith & H. Spencer Banzhaf & Randy Walsh, 2004. "Estimating The General Equilibrium Benefits Of Large Changes In Spatially Delineated Public Goods," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(4), pages 1047-1077, November.
    6. Shreekant Gupta & George Van Houtven & Maureen Cropper, 1996. "Paying for Permanence: An Economic Analysis of EPA's Cleanup Decisions at Superfund Sites," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(3), pages 563-582, Autumn.
    7. James T. Hamilton & W. Kip Viscusi, 1999. "Are Risk Regulators Rational? Evidence from Hazardous Waste Cleanup Decisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 1010-1027, September.
    8. Alberto Alesina & Eliana La Ferrara, 2003. "Ethnic Diversity and Economic Performance," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2028, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Kurka, Bernhard & Maier, Gunther & Sedlacek, Sabine, 2007. "Breaking the vicious cycle in peripheral rural regions: the case of "Waldviertler Wohlviertel" in Austria," SRE-Discussion Papers 978, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business.
    2. Isabel Fischer & Tina Beuchelt & Tom Dufhues & Gertrud Buchenrieder, 2010. "Risk management networks of ethnic minorities in Viet Nam," Asia-Pacific Development Journal, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), vol. 17(2), pages 83-118, December.
    3. Crespo, Joan & Réquier-Desjardins, Denis & Vicente, Jérôme, 2014. "Why can collective action fail in Local Agri-food Systems? A social network analysis of cheese producers in Aculco, Mexico," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 165-177.
    4. Paschalis Arvanitidis & Athina Economou & Christos Kollias, 2016. "Terrorism’s effects on social capital in European countries," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 169(3), pages 231-250, December.
    5. Rehman, Naqeeb Ur, 2016. "Innovation Performance of Chilean SMEs: A Bivariate Probit Analysis," MPRA Paper 68827, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Sedlacek Sabine & Kurka Bernhard & Maier Gunther, 2009. "Regional identity: a key to overcome structural weaknesses in peripheral rural regions?," European Countryside, De Gruyter Open, vol. 1(4), pages 180-201, January.
    7. Alexander Tatarko, 2012. "Are Individual Value Orientations Related to Socio-Psychological Capital? A Comparative Analysis Data from Three Ethnic Groups in Russia," HSE Working papers WP BRP 03/PSY/2012, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    8. Naqeeb Ur Rehman, 2016. "Network alliances and firms’ performance: a panel data analysis of Pakistani SMEs," Eurasian Business Review, Springer;Eurasia Business and Economics Society, vol. 6(1), pages 37-52, April.
    9. Jean-Philippe BERROU (GREThA UMR CNRS 5113) & Claire GONDARD-DELCROIX (GREThA UMR CNRS 5113), 2010. "Social networks in the entrepreneurial career: life-stories analysis of informal entrepreneurs in Bobo-Dioulasso (Burkina-Faso) (In French)," Cahiers du GREThA 2010-09, Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée.

    More about this item


    social capital; trust; SME; footwear; Ethiopia; Vietnam;


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:rsocec:v:65:y:2007:i:1:p:107-135. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Chris Longhurst). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.