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Social Capital – Full Course

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About Course

Social capital has become one of the most popular concepts across the social sciences. It is being heard with increasing regularity outside of academia, in business, politics, healthcare, and even in popular language. However, social capital is a difficult, complicated, and confusing concept, with many different meanings and approaches that can seem to contradict and confound. This course provides a foundational understanding of the concept with practical tools to help organise and understand the different conceptual approaches.

This course is designed to give you a rapid introduction to the concept of social capital and its use in research, helping you avoid weeks or even months of reading. The social capital literature can be incredibly confusing, with many different and often contradictory approaches. This course has been designed to be your roadmap, to help you quickly navigate the different meanings and conceptual approaches, helping to direct you to the best approach for your research or interest, and giving you reference lists and readings to get you started. There are no “silver bullets” and no quick simple solutions that are appropriate for every discipline and every application. But, this course guides and directs you. Ultimately, the goal of this course is to help you to understand the concept better, apply it more effectively, and save you time in doing so.


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What Will You Learn?

  • Introduction to social capital
  • History and evolution of social capital
  • Understanding social capital
  • Dimensions of social capital
  • Social capital levels
  • Bonding and bridging social capital
  • Sources of social capital
  • Criticisms of social capital
  • Measurement of social capital

Course Content

Introduction to social capital
This lesson provides a foundation for understanding what social capital is, where it comes from, and what it does as well as some of the challenges of reading the literature and conducting researching on social capital.

History and evolution of social capital
This lesson explores the history of the concept of social capital and how it has evolved and increased in popularity over the last 30 years, and in the context of the last 120 years.

Understanding social capital
This lesson explores the many different conceptual approaches to social capital that can be difficult to identify in the literature and if not understood, can result in enormous confusion and difficulties. The major approaches are identified and explained, and a typology is provided to help understand and position the different approaches.

Dimensions of social capital
This lesson explores the dimensions of social capital. Most scholars agree that social capital is multidimensional and although different dimensions have been proposed, there is a consensus emerging that there are three dimensions most relevant to its application.

Social capital levels
This lesson identifies the different levels at which social capital operates from the individual to the social group or organisation to community or society level.

Bonding and bridging social capital
This lesson explores the popular distinction between bonding, bridging, and linking social capital.

Sources of social capital
This lesson provides an overview of the commonly identified sources of social capital and how they contribute to its development.

Criticisms of social capital
This lesson explores the criticisms of social capital by using the wicked problems framework to consider what problems with the concept limit is usefulness and scholarly rigor.

Measurement of social capital
This lesson deals with the challenge of measuring social capital which is essential for research and for the evaluation of intervention programs.

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