Social capital and development

See bellow a draft/notes I took before my seminar on social capital and development at Gdansk University of Technology:

We have a tendency to think that urban planning, development are one thing and politics another thing. Here, in Spain, and in the whole Europe. Why politics matters. Let´s see how traditional societies worked. I mean the pre-industrial societies. People needed a dwelling and they build it. They needed a path to carry out goods and they build it. Hence, there was a direct relation between the individuals and the territory, i.e. the resources. We can say that urban and economics problems were solved by mean a unidirectional relationship. In these societies, the traditional societies, everything is solved in a relatively easy way. When you need a dwelling you build a hut or even a cave.
But in current and complex societies, those that are built up over the years and that accelerates as of a triple process of historical change known as industrial revolution, the liberal or French revolution and the construction of the anteroom of the current Modern State. Let´s say that the Modern State as we now understand it, is the result of those revolutions. In other words, a State where comes first the individual. Unlike Middle age when the statements were first. In two words, a historical process that give way to the current industrial and capitalist society.
But what lies beneath all this facts in sociological terms is that society becomes much more complex. And it seems that such complexity is growing up to date. Hence, if a problem of dwelling in a traditional society unidirectionally, I insist, I need a house and I build it. I am hungry I hunt deers or plant potatoes.
But in the complex, industrial, urban and capitalist societies this isn’t it. You live in a dense city so we need to agree where one or another build their home and you can´t no longer plant potatoes or hunt beers. Here is when the State appears as a way to solve all our problems. The intermediation of the State will guarantee that people is going to have job and dwelling. The question is that now we still need to work and houses but now it depends on macro factors due to the introduction of a monetary system, political system, media system etc. and, particularly, over the last decades global institutions.
And it is here when such concepts as local or regional development show up. Because regions and communities can no longer decide on their destination. Here is when economics sciences and social sciences start to worry about making possible all regions in the world become prosper. Especially those which did not get to experience the industrial revolution. Since the beginning of the twenty century, many thinkers where debating on the concept of development, regional development.
There is a huge literature on development. HUGE. However, Two main streams.
The first has to do with the so called Modernization theories. Best represented by Walt Whitman Rostow and his original work:
Rostow, W. W. (1990). The stages of economic growth: A non-communist manifesto. Cambridge University Press.
The essence of modernization theories is that the only matter to get the desirable development of a region is simply follow the steps of industrial revolution, i.e. follow the steps of England, Germany and US. In others word, experience an industrial and urbanization revolution. Hence, the State just need to invest on roads, infrastructures, technology, encourage investors, industrial and real State investors because this is going create jobs and jobs will make people independent and happy. And that is. Those are the steps.
Modernisation theory is subject to criticism originating among socialist and free-market ideologies, world-systems theorists, globalization theorists and dependency theorists, social network theories and, finally, social capital theories.
Social capital has to do with good relations between people, acquaintance, neighbours, community members and even unknown people within a given region. You don’t know them, but you trust them, because there are reasons to trust them. When there is no reason to ban your kid going to school alone. Yes, because it is pretty connected to economy and development.
That said, let me introduce you the concept from a more theoretical approach. When we talk on economic development or growth it is pretty common mention such aspects as financial capital, physical capital, human capital, technological capital. We see them as essentials of development. However, such ways of capital not always are sufficient to explain and understand why certain regions thrive and other regions don´t. For instance, Spain, over the last 15 years has never got so much funds, we have never seen such human capital as now, in terms of university graduated generations. All this types of capital often overlook the social dimension of the society. They overlook how people interact, how is the integration of the people in their own neighbourhoods, as well as the way people behave as economic agents within their communities.
It is, after all, another type of capital known as social capital and which theories have multiply over the last two decades. No more, just two decades. We could say that these theories are still in diapers. Why, because there are many different perspective both theoretical and empirical. In any case, it is worth mentioning the three main streams which are best represented by these three authors. Coleman, Bourdieu and Putnam.
Coleman, J. S. (1988). Social capital in the creation of human capital.American journal of sociology, S95-S120.
Bourdieu, P. (2011). The forms of capital.(1986). Cultural theory: An anthology, 81-93.
Putnam, R. D., Leonardi, R., & Nanetti, R. Y. (1994). Making democracy work: Civic traditions in modern Italy. Princeton university press.
Putnam, R. D. (2001). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. Simon and Schuster.
Specially the last one or least, in terms of local development. His work comes to say that both democracy and economic performance strongly depends in large part on the horizontal bonds that make up social capital.
It is possible to speak of social capital as the norms, values, attitudes and beliefs that govern interactions among people and institutions and predispose to cooperation and mutual assistance. In other words, a given region can have great potential of growth in base of the natural or physical wealth, count with strong sources of financing (like European Union), having a very highly qualified population but, if there are no conditions for solid social relations. In other words, if there are no shared norms, values, attitudes and beliefs that grease the relationships between people and institutions, development could not be entirely feasible. Thus, communities where there is no social cohesion, economic progress could be clearly slowed.
Let me put you an example, silly but clear example. The other day in the cafeteria of the faculty of economics I was waiting in the queue, as most of the people and after ten minutes waiting I see a couple of young ladies, very fashion, going straight to the head of the line and ordering their stuff. How you feel in that situation. So when it happens in a macro level, we talk on a lack of social capital. No rule, no norm, no trust. And you, as possible entrepreneur, you won´t waste your time in a place where there is no rule, no trust, no norm. Why, because we people want to make sure that our effort is going to be rewarded. If you live in a place where all people know each other, you share the same square, the same stores; your kids can go alone to school. You trust the place you live. In that case, you could get involved in business or whatever initiative, because you are sure that such effort will come back in one or another way. But you won’t do it in a place where, first of all, you don’t even say hello to your neighbourhood. Second, you share nothing with then. Or let me put an extreme example, you won´t start up a business if there is a mafia around. (In Spain sometimes mafia is in the government).
What is more, if the city where you live is full of social capital then you may attract newcomers that want to live here. And among that newcomers there could be also foreign investors that want not only locate their call centres.
In this sense, there is an agreement within the social sciences to consider social capital as a key to address the social, economic, financial and environmental pressures (Jordan et al factor, 2010;. Michelini, 2013; Lemon et al. , 2013)). In other words, communities with high reserves of social capital are more resistant to changes in the context of globalization and climate change. In other words, if global economy crash, certain non-embedded (Granovetter) first bye bye.
Michelini, Juan J. 2013. “Small farmers and social capital in development projects: Lessons from failures in Argentina’s rural periphery.” Journal of Rural Studies 30:99-109. DOI: 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2013.01.001
Jordan, Jeffrey L., Bulent Anil and Abdul Munasib. 2010. “Community Development and Local Social Capital.” Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics 42:143-159.
Limón, J. A. G., Toscano, E. V., & Garrido, F. E. (2013) La contribución de los agricultores al capital social: evidencias desde Andalucía. VI Congreso Español de Sociología.
Research has shown that communities with high reserves of social capital have a greater capacity to deal with disputes, to share useful information and execute successful development projects, while communities with similar provision of traditional production factors such as capital natural, physical or human, they do not achieve comparable levels of economic progress (Trigilia, 2001; Woodhouse, 2006)
Trigilia, C. (2001). Social capital and local development. European Journal of Social Theory, 4(4), 427-442.
Woodhouse, Andrew. 2006. “Social capital and economic development in regional Australia: a case study.” Journal of Rural Studies 20:83-94. DOI: 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2005.07.003
Finally, this is an attempt to classify different type of social capital.

I hope you have some question, but let me first formulate one, is your community, or the whole region you live in, full of social capital, and why?

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