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The OECD defines Social Capital as “networks together with shared norms, values and understandings that facilitate cooperation within or among groups” (OECD, 2001, p 41.).

A 2013 OECD project proposed four distinct interpretations of social capital, as follows:
•Personal relationships, referring to the structure of people’s networks (i.e. the people they know) and the social behaviours that contribute to establishing and maintaining those networks, such as spending time with others, or exchanging news by telephone or email.
•Social network support, which is a direct outcome of the nature of people’s personal relationships, and refers to the resources – emotional, material, practical, financial, intellectual or professional - that are available to each individual through their personal social networks.
•Civic engagement, which comprises the activities and networks through which people contribute to civic and community life, such as volunteering, political participation, group membership and different forms of community action.
•Finally, trust and cooperative norms, referring to the trust, social norms and shared values that underpin societal functioning and enable mutually beneficial cooperation. The concept primarily refers to different kinds of trust, as well as norms of reciprocity and non-discrimination. The types of trust that are most often considered as forms of social capital are generalised trust (i.e. trust in ‘others’, including strangers) and institutional trust, which can refer to political institutions as well as the judiciary, police, the media or other institutions.

Source Publication:
OECD (2001), The Well-Being of Nations: The Role of Human and Social Capital, OECD, Paris.
Scrivens, K. and C. Smith (2013), Four Interpretations of Social Capital: An Agenda for Measurement, OECD Statistics Working Papers, http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/economics/four-interpretations-of-social-capital_5jzbcx010wmt-en.

Statistical Theme: Social and welfare statistics

Created on Thursday, May 2, 2002

Last updated on Thursday, March 13, 2014