Social Capital

Social Capital can’t be defined with one definition, as there are so many. Let’s start by looking at Bourdieu’s definition: “The aggregate of the actual or potential resources which are linked to a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance or recognition.” (Bourdieu, 1997:51)

Now let’s compare this to Putnam’s definition: “Those features of social organisations, such as networks, norms and trust, that facilitate action and cooperation for mutual benefit.” (Putnam, 1993: 35-6)

Putman’s definition refers to situations where an individual does something for someone else with the expectation that that person will reciprocate the favour in the future. Putnam believes that Social Capital is measured in terms of being a member of voluntary organisations and volunteering for charities.


However, Bourdieu sees Social capital as something that primarily benefits an individual as a result of their participation in a social relationship. In other words, he was interested in how dominant classes retained their position. His point was that the posh men got the best jobs to make sure the ‘wrong’ kind of people didn’t. (lower class)

rich man .png

After reading multiple definitions, I think Social Capital is a set of norms and behaviours which are based on trust and mutual respect as well as giving your time generously within a community.

I believe that Social Capital does occur within communities, but could this include an online community? I think so.

Social Media has the power of creating online communities by bringing people together. It allows you to build networks, connect with people who share similar interests with you, and build new relationships.

 “With the recent uptake of social media and self-publishing, there has been a surge of interest in online networks based on local community interests.” (The online neighbourhood networks study)

Social Capital is associated with a sense of belonging. I think being part of a particular fandom online gives you a sense of belonging, as you are part of the online community. If you post an update about a particular fandom you are part of, the community who are connected with the post with benefit from it, therefore increasing your Social Capital.


Johnston, Gordon & Percy-Smith, Janie (2002) In Search of Social Capital, Policy & Politics, vol. 31: pp. 321-34.

OECD (2001), The Well-Being of Nations: The Role of Human and Social Capital, OECD, Paris.

The Online Neighbourhood Networks Study. (2010)


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