By Laura K. Graham
Drawing on classes from civil society in Northern eire, past Social Capital examines the restrictions of social capital conception 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
RETHINKING SOCIAL CAPITAL 27 2. Generalized trust—the kind that we have in individuals or groups that we do not know well, such as acquaintances and professional networks. This is what Putnam (2000:136) describes as “thin” trust. While thick trust might be good for bonding social capital, thin trust is necessary for bridging individuals and groups together. Putnam views both kinds of trust as being essential in developing social capital, though he concedes that they play separate roles.
Moreover, Farrington (2004:4) finds the application of Putnam’s view of civil society problematic: Firstly, holding to such a wide and undifferentiated definition [of civil society as associational life] can lead to the inclusion of uncivil groups, such as the UDA [Ulster Defence Association] or IRA [Irish Republican Army]. However, this is not necessarily the case, as such groups are not involved in “voluntary association” and do not create social capital. Farrington’s analysis is flawed on two counts.
The merits and limitations of its theoretical conceptualization have been debated by scholars for over two decades. These debates tend to problematize social capital theory’s conceptualization, its application to social phenomena and policy prescription, as well as its peculiar relationship to the uncivil tendencies that describe the “dark side of social capital” (Putnam 2000). To date, few of social capital theory’s problems have been adequately resolved, leaving ample room for further discussion and conceptualization by its exponents.
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