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Is Social Capital Really Capital?

  • Robison, Lindon J.
  • Schmid, A. Allan
  • Siles, Marcelo E.

Social capital in the past two decades has emerged as a dominant paradigm in the various social science disciplines. However, its adoption by the different social science disciplines has led to multiple and often conflicting definitions of social capital. Some differences in the definition of social capital can be explained because scientists have included in the definition expressions of its possible uses, where it resides, and how its service capacity can be changed. This paper defends the social capital metaphor by pointing out that social capital has many important capital-like properties including service potential, durability, flexibility, substitutability, opportunities for decay (maintenance), reliability, ability to create other capital forms, and investment (disinvestment) opportunities. Social capital is compared to other forms of capital including cultural capital and human capital. Keywords: social capital, cultural capital, human capital, physical/financial capital, service potential, durability, flexibility, substitutability, decay (maintenance), reliability, investment (disinvestment)

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File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/11649
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Paper provided by Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics in its series Staff Papers with number 11649.

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Date of creation: 1999
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Handle: RePEc:ags:midasp:11649
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  1. Baron, James N & Hannan, Michael T, 1994. "The Impact of Economics on Contemporary Sociology," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(3), pages 1111-46, September.
  2. Emery N. Castle, 1998. "A Conceptual Framework for the Study of Rural Places," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 80(3), pages 621-631.
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