Social Capital Is The Shared Knowledge Sociology Essay Example
Social Capital Is The Shared Knowledge Sociology Essay Example

Social Capital Is The Shared Knowledge Sociology Essay Example

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  • Pages: 15 (4011 words)
  • Published: September 7, 2017
  • Type: Research Paper
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The purpose of this study is to demonstrate the significant role played by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in building Palestinian social capital. The main factors involved in constructing and accumulating social capital include network ties, trust, collective action and cooperation, shared information, social cohesion and inclusion, and empowerment. The study examines the impact of communication within NGOs on the development of social capital by influencing these factors. The study adopts a quantitative approach.

The aim of the field survey in Bethlehem District was to study six Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in the Health Sector. This involved a representative sample of 81% Top Management, 70% Middle Management, and 24% Lower Management. The data collection utilized a structured questionnaire that focused on different aspects contributing to societal capital. Each aspect was examined through four to five inquiries. The research findings show that effective communication within NG


Os directly contributes to the development of societal capital. Communication is crucial for building networks, fostering trust, promoting collaboration and cooperation among stakeholders, enhancing social cohesion, and improving access to information. Additionally, the research emphasizes that all six aspects of societal capital construction are positively interconnected. Therefore, it is recommended for organizations to acknowledge the advantages of maintaining effective internal communication.

The thesis focuses on the concept of social capital, which refers to the connections and associations between individuals in organizations and communities that facilitate cooperation. Social capital was initially introduced by Pierre Bourdieu in his publication "The Forms of Capital". In this work, Bourdieu (1986) classifies three types of capital: economic, human, and social capital. He defines social capital as the combined resources associated with being part of a network of informal relationships based o

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familiarity and recognition. These relationships provide support to each participant and are collectively owned (1986, 248).

There are three types of societal capital: Bonding, which involves relationships between people or groups with shared values; bridging, which involves relationships and cooperation with those who have different interests; and linking, which involves relationships and influence with governments or those in power (Putman 2000). Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) need to gather and build societal capital. NGOs can perform better if they have enough societal capital. Communication within NGOs can impact the creation and accumulation of social capital through its influence on the six key sources identified by the World Bank (Grootaert et al. 2003): Network Ties, Trust, Collective Action and Cooperation, Shared Information, Social Cohesion and Inclusion, and Empowerment.

The main focus of this study is the communication within Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). This involves various characteristics such as building relationships, organizing networks, fostering trust, shared norms, and social cohesion. These elements contribute to the development and strengthening of social capital, which plays a crucial role in economic growth. However, this research specifically examines bonding social capital at the horizontal level within NGOs to narrow its scope.

Chapter One: Theoretical Background

Capital refers to the accumulation of resources for future investments and is an economic concept. Sociologists have identified different types of capital including economic, cultural, and social capital as outlined by Bourdieu (1986).

The main focus of this thesis is social capital, which refers to the norms and networks that enable corporate actions (World Bank 2011). Social capital encompasses organizations, relationships, and customs that shape the quality and quantity of societal interaction. Therefore, social capital is crucial for both economic prosperity and sustainable development.

Putman (2000) identified three types of social capital: bonding social capital, involving relations between people or groups who share the same values; bridging social capital, involving relations that connect people or groups with different interests; and linking social capital, involving relations and influences between people or groups and those in positions of power. On the other hand, communication is essential for every interaction and collaboration (United for Intercultural Action n.d.).

The importance of interaction for individuals to feel a sense of belonging, empathy, obligation, and motivation in order to collaborate on solving common problems and achieving shared goals cannot be overstated. Communication is vital in management as it involves conveying information with the aim of creating mutual understanding that fosters unity of action towards common objectives. Thus, communication encompasses real-life experiences within social networks and relationships based on trust and tolerance, which can greatly benefit individuals by developing their social capital (Putman 2000). Given the growing number of NGOs operating in Palestine, effective communication and networking are crucial for building social capital and improving service delivery and resource utilization (Dudwick et al.).

Forming webs through communication is the first step in building societal capital (2006). Informal webs can be formed through horizontal and vertical relationships, enabling the exchange of information and resources within communities. The study concentrates on communication within NGOs, which will reinforce relationships, establish networks, build trust, share norms, and encourage coherence. This ultimately contributes to the growth and improvement of social capital, a vital element for economic development. Given the limited resources that many NGOs have, efficient and effective communication within these organizations is crucial for enhancing efficiency and effectiveness.

Communication is crucial for empowering

members of an organization to participate in decision-making, take responsibility, exchange information efficiently, reduce unnecessary competition between departments, and foster collaboration in achieving organizational goals. Conversely, the lack of communication leads to a lack of collective voice, poor working relationships, and wasted resources. Effective communication produces outcomes that possess and build the characteristics of social capital, such as groups and networks, trust and solidarity, collective action and cooperation, shared information, norms, beliefs. Social capital is a vital resource for development alongside human and economic capital. Therefore, it is important to emphasize and pay attention to this important concept by studying how communication within NGOs can build and strengthen social capital. Specifically, this thesis will examine the role of NGOs in accumulating social capital through their daily operations using the managerial tool of communication.

Research on the NGO sector has become important due to the roles they play in socio-economic development. This study aims to demonstrate that social capital can be accumulated through the daily operations of NGOs. It seeks to highlight the critical role NGOs play in building Palestinian social capital. The research explores how communication within NGOs impacts the construction of social capital, specifically through its influence on network ties, trust, collective action, cooperation, shared information, social cohesion and inclusion, and empowerment. The study emphasizes the importance of NGO communication as a managerial tool for achieving their objectives and providing necessary services to disadvantaged Palestinians.

In this research, there are two main variables: communication as the independent variable and constructing societal capital as the dependent variable. However, in order to understand the impact of NGO communication on constructing societal capital, we need to break down the

dimensions or benefits of communication as the independent variable. Social capital is a concept that has significant implications for enhancing the quality, effectiveness, and sustainability of NGOs operations, especially those based on community action. Social capital can be categorized into two forms: structural or cognitive societal capital.

At the practical and operational level, communication within NGOs can impact the creation and accumulation of social capital through its influence over the six sources that contribute to social capital (Grootaert et al. 2003). NGOs can benefit from their well-organized communication activities by utilizing information channels within groups to acquire information quickly and cost-effectively. Staff networks also facilitate trust-building, information sharing, and decision-making among NGO personnel, ultimately helping them achieve their goals. Additionally, maintaining transparency through communication channels and dialogue can foster trust within the organization, improving interpersonal behavior and promoting strong collective action. Communication within NGOs also enhances teamwork in addressing common issues and building loyalty towards the organization, which is a crucial aspect of their success.

NGOs engage in corporate actions to provide public services to the community. Effective communication within NGOs involves shared language, vocabulary, and corporate storytelling, which can enhance positive social relationships. This approach reduces the risk of conflicts between different levels of the organization and promotes equal access to development benefits by encouraging participation and fulfillment of individual responsibilities. NGOs that empower their staff are seen as assets. Empowered individuals can enhance their capacities for decision-making, negotiate with and influence institutions, control their lives, and hold accountable those that affect their well-being.

The research assumes that Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) effectively communicate through various channels to carry out their daily activities and achieve their goals. The

study's focus is not on gaining a clear understanding of how NGOs communicate, but rather understanding the impact communication has on building social capital. The variables in the study concentrate on the structural and cognitive aspects of social capital according to World Bank (2011). Although analytically distinguishing between the six resources contributing to social capital, it is assumed that these resources are highly interconnected.

Chapter Two: Understanding Social Capital Concept

In the past, it was believed that economic development and growth result from utilizing physical, natural, and human capital. However, it is now acknowledged that these capitals alone do not solely determine economic growth as countries with similar levels of these capitals have achieved different levels of economic performance.

The economist's inability to recognize the connection in which economic historians engage and form themselves resulted in various achievements. However, this achievement was missing the crucial connection of societal capital (Grootaert 1998). Societal capital plays a vital role in interacting and organizing different types of capital, such as physical, natural, and human, to generate economic growth for sustainable development. This chapter aims to establish the main theoretical framework of societal capital by highlighting its definitions and distinguishing it from other forms of capital.

Social capital signifiers, dimensions, and origins will be discussed, as well as the connection between social capital and development. The literature defines capital as the accumulation of assets. Individuals accumulate capital by saving resources and using them to expand future investments. Bourdieu (1986) categorized three types of capital: economic, human, and social capital.

The text discusses the concept of economic capital and its relationship with human and societal capital. Economic capital is the result of activities that accumulate

human and societal capital. Physical capital refers to man-made resources such as buildings, roads, and tools, which generate future benefits. Societal capital, on the other hand, is embedded in social relationships between individuals. Possessing societal capital requires being connected to others, as they provide a real source of advantage. Creating and activating societal capital involves cooperation between at least two individuals. Additionally, societal capital is expected to have public good characteristics that directly impact its production level. The definition of societal capital can be categorized into two types: those that focus on the relationships actors maintain with others, and those that describe the relationships within an organization's internal structure.

The original definition of social capital, which is commonly accepted by sociologists, states that it refers to the initial action taken by a central actor or a resource embedded in the social network that connects said actor to other actors. The involvement and effectiveness of individuals and groups can be greatly enhanced through their position within social networks, particularly through their direct and indirect connections with others in these networks (Adler and Kwon 2009). Meanwhile, another definition sees social capital as a characteristic found within the internal relationships of collective actors such as groups, organizations, regions, and countries. Various significant definitions of social capital exist in literature; notable examples include those provided by Bourdieu, Coleman, Putman, and Fukuyama. Pierre Bourdieu was the first to explore social capital and identified three forms: economic capital, cultural capital, and social capital (Bourdieu 1986).

Bourdieu focused on the benefits individuals gain from participating in groups and building social connections to accumulate social capital. He defined social capital as the resources associated

with being part of a well-established network based on familiarity and recognition (Bourdieu 1986, 8). In contrast, Coleman emphasized the connection between social capital and education. He believed that social capital and human capital work together, with social capital providing educational advantages.

He defined social capital as a resource gained from relationships through processes such as duties, expectations, trustworthiness, information channels, norms, and effective sanctions. According to Coleman, social capital is defined by its map and is not an individual feature in common. It consists of some aspect of social structure and facilitates certain actions of individuals within the structure. Similar to other forms of capital, social capital is productive and enables the achievement of certain goals that would not be attainable without it (1990, 302). Coleman emphasized that a dense network is a necessary condition for the emergence of social capital. Another definition by Robert Putnam acknowledges that social capital can take various forms but focuses on those related to civic engagement. Putnam defines social capital as characteristics of the social organization such as networks, norms, and social trust that facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefit (1995: 67). Putnam's definition of social capital comprises three elements: networks, norms, and trust.

These elements are interconnected and mutually reinforcing because strong networks create norms of reciprocity and societal trust. Francis Fukuyama emphasized trust as a crucial aspect of societal capital, highlighting its correlation with economic success and its equal importance to physical capital in economic development. He defines social capital as the informal values or norms shared among group members that enable cooperation among them.

In addition to these four widely recognized definitions of social capital, numerous other

scholars have proposed definitions that include trust, norms, networks, and social organizations. Social capital is a valuable complement to natural, physical, and human capital. While social capital shares some characteristics with other forms of capital, it also possesses unique features. Ostrom (2000) stated that social capital, like other forms of capital, is an asset that can be invested in with the expectation of future benefits. Unlike physical capital, social capital is difficult to locate, observe, or measure.

Social capital may not be immediately visible unless a deliberate effort is made to explore how individuals organize themselves and the principles that guide their behavior. Bourdieu (1986) observed that social capital shares similarities with other forms of capital. Similar to physical capital, social capital can be owned and traded; it can serve different purposes. For instance, an individual's network of friendships can be utilized for obtaining information or advice. Moreover, social capital can act as a substitute or complement to other resources. As a substitute, individuals can compensate for a lack of financial or human capital through strong social connections.

Finally, social capital can enhance the efficiency of economic capital by reducing transaction costs. According to Adler and Kwon (2009), social capital is comparable to physical and human capitals. They argued that social capital needs maintenance, and social bonds have to be periodically renewed and confirmed in order to maintain efficiency. Unlike other assets, social capital does not have a predictable rate of depreciation; instead, it can depreciate with lack of use. Ostrom (2000) emphasized that social capital builds and grows through usage. For example, trust shown today will be reciprocated and doubled in the future.

Using social capital for

an initial purpose can generate common concerns, which can often be utilized to accomplish completely different expression activities at a reduced cost (Ostrom 2000 and Grootaert and Bastelaer 2001). Unlike many other forms of capital, social capital possessed by collective actors is a public good rather than a personal belonging for those who benefit from it (Coleman, 1988). Social capital requires mutual commitment and cooperation from both parties to develop, but abandonment by one party will destroy it. Thus, social capital resides not in the actors but in their relationships. Consequently, no actor has exclusive ownership rights to social capital.

Social capital, like other forms of capital, is not easy to generate as it necessitates an investment of time and effort rather than just money. The trustworthy relationships within a network often require years of meetings and interactions to develop. In his study on civic associations in Italy, Putman noted that it can take generations to build and fully utilize corporate social capital (Putman 1995). The origins of social capital are a subject of debate in the literature, with various scholars proposing different explanations. For instance, Coleman presented a network-based interpretation of the origins of social capital.

He identified the origin of societal capital as the construction of societal webs. These webs facilitate the growth of various forms of social capital, including duty, information channels, trust, and norms. Sublime ports (1998) focused on norms, while also differentiating the origin of societal capital based on actors' motives to honor their duties. Putman (1993) identified web ties, norms, and trust as sources of societal capital. Ostrom (1994), on the other hand, identified four key sources of societal capital: webs,

norms, societal beliefs, and regulations.

Societal capital is considered to originate from the relationships between individuals and groups. Some researchers, such as Putman and Brehm, emphasize the internal connections within society, highlighting informal interactions and membership in civic associations or social clubs. Alternatively, network theorists believe that individuals' societal capital is influenced both by direct and indirect connections, which are facilitated by the broader structure of the overall network they are a part of (Adler and Kwon 2009). Coleman (1988) argued that these direct and indirect network ties grant access to both supportive individuals and the resources they can provide through their own connections. Both Putman and Portes stress the importance of shared norms as a fundamental source of social capital, providing a context that enables individuals and groups to take actions that may not otherwise be possible. Putman (1993) specifically highlighted the norms of generalized reciprocity, which resolve collective action problems and strengthen communities.

These shared norms of generalized reciprocality help transform individuals from being opportunistic to becoming members of a community with shared interests and a sense of common good. These reciprocity norms also suggest that there should be some level of equality among those involved in long-term mutual relationships. When this initial social capital exists, actors are able to achieve more. According to Oakerson, in a mutual relationship, each actor contributes to the well-being of others with the expectation that others will do the same, although not necessarily in a fully equal exchange (1993, 143). Shared beliefs, in the form of a shared strategic vision, interpretations, and systems of meaning, play an important role in generating social capital. Social capital cannot develop among people

who do not comprehend each other.

The availability of a shared belief system allows individuals to communicate their thoughts and make sense of their common experiences, contributing to social capital. This communication resource facilitates the emergence of shared worldviews, assumptions, and perspectives among people, enabling collective action (Adler and Kwon, 2009). According to Sublime ports (1998), shared experiences and common beliefs foster a strong sense of community and solidarity, contributing to societal capital. Additionally, formal institutions and regulations have a significant impact on societal capital. Rules directly and indirectly influence social capital by shaping networks, norms, and beliefs.

Formal regulations and establishment have a significant influence on web construction and the content of the ties. Moreover, these regulations can also impact informal organizations, as many ties are formed in specific locations and are not necessarily voluntary. The influence of formal construction on web construction ultimately affects societal capital. Government and other formal institutions are a primary source of societal capital, as a responsive and strong government directly contributes to building societal capital within a community. Conversely, self-organizing systems develop their own rules to address various private and public issues, aiming to create societal capital in a self-aware manner.

This self-organization dedicates time and effort to creating organizations through a set of regulations (Ostrom 2000). The relationship between trust and social capital is somewhat perplexing, as it serves both as a source and expression of social capital. Social capital generates trusting relationships, and the resulting trust, in turn, generates social capital. Moreover, trust and social capital have a positive relationship, as the three sources of social capital - network, shared norms, and belief - influence trust (Adler and Kwon


Trust is built when the behavior of others can be predicted and they act in an expected manner. Trust grows over time through consistent interactions. Additionally, trust develops when reliability and accountability are present in human interactions. The accumulation of social trust enables groups, communities, and even states to manifest a necessary tolerance for addressing conflicts and differing interests.

The literature discusses two dimensions of social capital: structural societal capital and cognitive societal capital. Researchers note that structural societal capital consists of the properties of the societal system, including its network of relationships. Structures such as networks, organizations, and institutions are examples of structural societal capital. This type of capital facilitates the sharing of information and enables collective action and decision-making through network connections, network structure, and other social constructions. Typically, structural societal capital is supported by rules and processes and can be perceived as a tangible concept (Nahapiet and Ghoshal, 1998).

The cognitive dimension of social capital refers to the resources that provide shared representations, readings, and systems of intending among parties. This includes shared norms, values, trust, attitudes, and beliefs. These two dimensions of social capital (figure No. 2.1) can exist at the micro, meso, and macro level (Grootaert and Bastelaer 2001). Uphoff (2000) states that structural and cognitive social capital can work together. For example, cooperation between neighbors may be based on personal cognitive bonds that are not reflected in a formal structure.

Similarly, the existence of community associations does not necessarily imply strong personal connections among its members. This could be due to mandatory participation in activities or the fact that these associations have survived beyond the original external factor that led to their

creation. There are three types of societal capital in society, as shown in figure No. (2.2). Bonding Social Capital enhances relationships and problem-solving among members of homogeneous groups or communities. Bridging Social Capital builds bridges between individuals and communities with different social characteristics and interests. Finally, Linking Social Capital is related to networks and shared norms among communities, government, the private sector, and other social stakeholders (Woolcock and Narayan, 2000). Putnam (1993), on the other hand, focused on bonding social capital at the horizontal level. He defined social capital as the features of the social organization of a network of individuals and the associated norms and values that create benefits for the community. The Communitarian View aligns with bonding social capital, as it equates social capital with a local organization that connects people with similar identities and values.

Communitarians analyze the quantity and density of these groups in communities, arguing that the existence of social capital has positive effects on community welfare. Bonding social capital and the centrality of social ties help the poor manage risk and vulnerability. Bridging social capital refers to the inter-community network view, which emphasizes the importance of connections between people and relationships within and among various organizational entities such as community groups and organizations. Strong inter-community ties give families and communities a sense of identity and shared purpose. Bridging social capital refers to networks with similar structures on a horizontal level (Woolcock and Narayan 2000). On the other hand, Colman (1988) examined linking social capital on a vertical level, defining it as "a variety of different entities, with two elements in common: they all consist of some aspect of social structure,

and they facilitate certain actions of actors—whether personal or corporate actors—within the structure" (P 598).

This emphasizes that societal capital is not just about individuals, but also about the relationships between different organizations. Coleman expanded the concept of societal capital to include both vertical and horizontal connections and behaviors within and between these organizations (Grootaert and Bastelaer 2001). As an asset, societal capital can accumulate and create a continuous flow of benefits. First, it provides access to a wide range of information at a lower cost. Social capital facilitates the exchange of information and knowledge about the behavior of others, thereby reducing the problem of free-riding by individuals. Additionally, it facilitates the transmission of knowledge about technology and markets, thus reducing market failure in information gathering (Grootaert and Bastelaer 2001).

By means of ordinary interaction and through online connections, individuals have easier access to information. For example, through online connections, people can obtain access to new job opportunities and learn more skills and knowledge through online networks. This facilitates the transfer of information.

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