The Creation and Destruction of Social Capital


The Creation and Destruction of Social Capital

Entrepreneurship, Co-operative Movements and Institutions

9781843766162 Edward Elgar Publishing
Gunnar Lind Haase Svendsen, Professor of Rural Sociology, University of Southern Denmark and Gert Tinggaard Svendsen, Professor of Comparative Politics, Aarhus University, Denmark
Publication Date: 2004 ISBN: 978 1 84376 616 2 Extent: 224 pp
This book will contribute substantially to academic and popular debates on social capital and will be an invaluable source of reference for all social scientists. It will particularly appeal to students and scholars of public policy, economics, sociology, political science, anthropology and history.

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Is social capital the ‘missing link’ in economics? In this vital new book, the authors argue that the ‘forgotten’ production factor of social capital is as crucial in economic decision-making as the other more traditional factors of production such as physical, financial and human capital. They attempt to bridge the gap between theory and reality by examining the main factors that determine entrepreneurship, co-operative movements and the creation and destruction of social capital.

To address the question of how social capital is created and destroyed, the authors develop an interdisciplinary approach combining political science, economics, anthropology, sociology and history. They show how bridging social capital enforces personal contact and acts as a lubricator for human co-operation, whereas bonding social capital enforces distance between people, increasing mistrust and, consequently, transaction costs. They demonstrate how entrepreneurship can facilitate voluntary collective action and create inclusive forms of social capital. Crucial in this respect is that entrepreneurs are motivated not only by economic incentives but also by social motives. Applying historical and contemporary case studies, they identify the serious human and economic consequences that result when social capital is disregarded. The authors believe that the implications of such a discovery demand a re-evaluation of traditional economic theory.

This book will contribute substantially to academic and popular debates on social capital and will be an invaluable source of reference for all social scientists. It will particularly appeal to students and scholars of public policy, economics, sociology, political science, anthropology and history.
Critical Acclaim
‘The book offers a coherent historical and interdisciplinary perspective on social capital that is illustrated through the emergence and decline of cooperative movements in Denmark (and Poland). The strength of the book lies in its ability to provide an interdisciplinary account of social capital, which, unlike many neoclassical studies of social capital, does not attempt to quantify the concept to make it fit traditional econometric regressions.’
– Quentin M.H. Duroy, Heterodox Economics Newsletter

‘The lengths that Svendsen and Svendsen have gone to show the importance and depth that social capital has is wonderful in its scale. At once they make an economic, sociological and political argument for the contribution social capital can make to society. . . Svendsen and Svendsen’s book is refreshingly reasoned amongst books examining social capital. Their argument is laid down clearly, and by focusing on one specific study, they isolate a term that runs the danger of overuse because of its expansive implications.’
– David Quartner, Economic Affairs

‘This book gives a very important contribution through its cross-disciplinary approach. I see the book as especially interesting from an entrepreneurship perspective. The book’s thorough description of social capital as an overlooked and important production factor makes very interesting suggestions for entrepreneurship research.’
– Lars Rønning, International Small Business Journal

‘This is a brave book, as it takes on a broad theoretical and societal problem that touches upon many different specializations. . . This reviewer is sympathetic towards efforts to make broad contributions to social science and practice rather than only to narrow academic specializations. It is important that such work can be done and encouraged.’
– Per Davidsson, The Journal of Socio-Economics

‘The new millennium has seen a burgeoning literature on social capital. . . This book is important. It must not get lost amidst the myriad of other lesser texts on social capital. It offers something very different to the majority. . . I strongly recommend it to scholars of social capital and those interested in rural studies. If a book makes you reflect on what you before believed, which this one does, it has done its job.’
– Colin C. Williams, Journal of Rural Studies

‘My general appraisal of this book is unequivocally positive. . . The Svendsens not only seek to explain the observations they describe in great detail, they also challenge our minds regarding the way we used to think about the relation between economy, society and space. . . It really makes you think about the world as we experience and conceive it daily. Within the present abundance of publications dealing with social capital, this book is really a relief as it provides you with a lot of “oxygen” to further develop the ongoing debate on our present society. . . I can recommend it strongly to scholars, researchers and students.’
– Henk Meert, Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie

‘A welcome contribution to scholarly economic and public policy debates, The Creation and Destruction of Social Capital is written for advanced students yet offers insights critical to better understanding micro and macro economics alike.’
– Willis M. Buhle, The Midwest Book Review

‘The Svendsens are urging all social scientists to think more as social scientists rather than just as anthropologists, economists, historians, political scientists, or sociologists. Their effort to broaden the way social scientists think about social organization is an important step, especially for those of us interested in public policies. . . This is the type of book that should be assigned to graduate students across the social sciences as an illustration of the kind of work that they should aspire to do. I know I have learned a great deal from reading this book and appreciate the effort that the Svendsens have put in to crafting this study.’
– From the foreword by Elinor Ostrom
Contents: Preface Foreword by Elinor Ostrom 1. Introduction: The ‘Missing Link’ 2. Social Capital and Entrepreneurship 3. Co-operative Movements and Social Capital in Denmark and Poland 4. Bridging Social Capital and Entrepreneurship in Rural Denmark 5. Bonding Social Capital and Centralization: The Post-War Danish Co-operative Movement 6. Bonding Social Capital and Theory Effects: The Danish Village Society Movement 7. Bonding and Bridging Social Capital: A Contemporary Fieldwork Study 8. Conclusion Bibliography Index
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