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By Laura K. Graham

Drawing on classes from civil society in Northern eire, past Social Capital examines the restrictions of social capital idea in deeply divided societies and advances a reconceptualization of the bonding-bridging distinction.

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Extra info for Beyond Social Capital: The Role of Leadership, Trust and Government Policy in Northern Ireland's Victim Support Groups

Sample text

Social capital differs from other forms of capital, though, according to Bourdieu (1986:243), who noted three fundamental distinctions of capital—economic, cultural, and social—the last being made up of social connections and obligations that can be converted into economic capital. For Bourdieu, social capital differs from other forms of capital because it is based on social networks that are convertible into economic gain. In the group context, Siisiainen (2000:12) explains that “voluntary associations as social capital can be understood as resources produced by the association as a collective and shared by its members.

To better understand this concept, let us turn to what seminal scholars have provided us in terms of a definition. 20 LAURA K. GRAHAM Definitions and Components of Social Capital: Networks, Trust, and Reciprocity Social capital, as a concept, is often described as a resource that individuals and groups possess based on the trust and norms of reciprocity that accumulate within their social networks (see Bourdieu 1986; Coleman 1988; Putnam et al. 1993; Putnam 2000, 2007). In short, social capital can be understood as a resource similar to other forms of capital: economic, human, and cultural.

This description stands in contrast to Gellner’s (1994 cited in Varshney 2002:42) understanding that civil society must only consist strictly of voluntary, nonascriptive groups. The gamut of what is considered a voluntary association is broad and consists of trade unions, secret societies such as the Freemasons, women’s groups, book clubs, bowling leagues, and many other groups who share some common interest or bond. It is this view of civil society that underpins social capital theory, and is often seen as being synonymous with the concept.

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