Social capital is the name given to your "wealth" of social connections.

Good reading list here :

  • BernardLietaer says that alternative local currencies help build social capital. Especially mutual credit type currencies which encourage formalization of mutual favours.

: Interesting point at end, that social capital can't be traded for other things. (Though contrast the NetoCracy notion of Exploitation and discussion in TheAttentionEconomy of turning attention into money. What's the relation between attention and social capital?)

: And SocialCapitalAndIncome

Read with PhilAgreOnSocialSkills :

But the phrase "social capital", as well as its connection with the mapping of social networks, begins with Loury (1977), for whom it served as part of an explanation of poverty in terms of poorly-functioning community support systems. Social capital for Loury was the sum total of other people's capital (e.g., equipment available for borrowing) to which an individual has access through social connections of friendship and association. A related concept, mainly intended to explain the persistence of social stratification, originates with Bourdieu and Passeron (1977). Social capital was then theorized more fully by Coleman (1990) and by such scholars of social networks as Lin (1982, 2001) [1].


But is social capital actually any better than other kinds? HernandoDeSoto argues that the third-world remains poor precisely because it doesn't have more formal property laws and has to get by on social capital backed transactions. These don't scale up.

I'm not sure that social capital can be construed as being a property of an individual. Maybe I'm mistaken, but I've always thought about it as a property of a community or group. Social capital is an amalgamation of a number of things including familiarity, trust, a sense of responsibility to the group, and a capacity for cooperation that arises as a property of social networks, not of individuals. Reputation can back transactions in some instances, social capital can't. If you're part of a community with strong social capital you are more likely to have had the chance to develop a reputation that could serve as credit, but Mayfield's assertion that social capital is a form of credit strikes me as wrong-headed. If it was a form of credit, Putnam and all the Saguaro people wouldn't be jumping through the hoops they are trying to figure out how to quantify it. -Robert