Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Social Capital Explanations

In Nan Lin's book, Social Capital, he provides the following explanations as to why social capital works, or more clearly, why embedded resources in social networks enhance the outcomes of actions. They are as follows with an example of each (see pages 19-20):
  1. information flow is facilitated - word of mouth effect (e.g., being connected to people with useful information is a benefit)
  2. social ties may exert influence - some ties carry more weight (e.g., son of the President)
  3. social credentials - resources beyond an a single individuals' are available if necessary (e.g., politician endorsement)
  4. reinforcement identity and recognition - can provide support and public acknowledgment of one's claim of resources (e.g., maintenance of mental health and entitlement of resources)
Lin suggests that these four elements "may explain why social capital works in instrumental and expressive actions not accounted for by forms of personal capital such as economic or human capital."

I would agree and add that relationships among people add an additional layer of complexity that cannot be accounted using only individual centered metrics.

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