Social Capital and Social Identity: Friendship and Kinship Connections as a Source of Social Capital

Social Capital and Social Identity: Friendship and Kinship Connections as a Source of Social Capital

Caryn Cook (University of South Wales, UK)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7721-8.ch003


This chapter explores the relationships between what are complex and shifting socio-economic and political conditions and the role and connection of norms and networks of social cooperation, such as friendship networks and kinship connections within Latvia. These “connections” and “kinships” have long served as a source of “social capital” it is argued, which is beyond the immediate circle of family. Research does suggest these relationships often perform functions usually associated with formal civil society, particularly in times of need. Specifically, this chapter considers the nature and practice of blat which something, it is argued, so naturally it was not even thought about. During Soviet times, it developed into a quiet resistance against the official system making life bearable for citizens, and therefore acting to support the continued existence of the Soviet system. The chapter also considers the links between social network theory, new-institutionalism, and social capital.
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Social Capital And Networks

Social capital perspectives, when studying the nature of networks, were proposed by Putnam (2000) who argued that social capital is about connections amongst individuals in the form of social networks, norms and reciprocity. This also has links then to trustworthiness that can arise from these. Norms, as referred to by Kaasa (2009), are trustworthiness and general reciprocity. Landry, Amara and Jamari (2002) also interpret norms as being trustworthiness. This of course implies that the core theme of social capital theory is about networks of connections and the nature of and features of social organization, such as trust and norms, that can then improve or support society by facilitating co-ordinated actions (Putnam, 1993). In support, Fountain (1998) also refers to social capital and its relationship to innovation as being constituted of networks, norms and trust stating that such norms, networks and trust enable cooperation between individuals and/or organizations. This supposed that this support, goodwill afforded by individuals or groups becomes a resource in itself. Social capital is embedded in networks of shared interaction and recognition and therefore become resources in their own right. Therefore, those that do not have ‘connectivity’ to networks cannot then gain access (Putnam, 2000). Generic forms of social capital can be seen to be composed of the fundamental characteristics of social capital. The characteristics include the notion that social capital may increase via a ‘virtuous circle’ of activity and diminish as a consequence of a ‘vicious circle’ of activity (Putnam et al., 1993). Fountain (1998) supports the concept of social capital increasing in a virtuous circle; she refers to the cyclic facets of social relationships.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Norm: A situation or behavior considered typical.

“Blat”: A form of corruption using a system of informal agreements, exchanges of services, connections, party contacts, or black-market deals.

Informal Networks: A major source of exchanging information and news between individuals related to the organization.

Reciprocity: Providing advantage and help to other people, including privileges given from one individual or organization to another.

Societal Norm: Informal understanding that governs the behavior of members of society.

Social Capital: Connections amongst individuals in the form of social networks, norms, and reciprocity.

Social Network: A social structure made up of social actors (individuals or organizations) involving social interactions and personal relationships.

Trust: A belief in the truth, reliability or ability of an individual or organization.

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