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Social Capital as a Policy Resource

Social Capital as a Policy ResourceEdited by John D. Montgomery and Alex Inkeles

Existing studies of social capital have provided ample evidence of its pervasiveness and offered useful impressions of its political, economic, and social influence. That it can be also a resource for the implementation of public policies is less well understood. Social Capital as a Policy Resource considers how leaders use it to accomplish objectives that are exogenous to the purposes of those that originally contributed to it. Since social capital is usually a by-product of group behavior, its existence should be observed as a separate feature of a group’s assets. It is most frequently observed indirectly through its influence on social systems and their policies, but it may also perform the reverse role by becoming an instrument of policy. This book examines some of its uses in mobilizing public support through appeals to unrelated loyalties. Social capital, the study asserts, may serve to mediate state-society relations; but the state, independent of its cooperative activities, is still as strong as ever in most of the project countries, perhaps stronger than before the ‘associational revolution’ of the last quarter century. In the actual study of social capital, focusing on policy – on someone’s preferred future and the actions necessary to bring it about – moves the discussion beyond community and organization to a consideration of the mundane human concerns – for a secure existence, for respect, dignity, and a sense of meaning – that make social relations worth pursuing at all.

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