Gilligan Quinn, Aoife
Social capital: an assessment of its relevance as a conceptual and policy tool.
Voluntary Sector Working Papers,
Centre for Civil Society, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.
Social capital as a conceptual and policy tool has become common currency amongst academics, policy makers and politicians. Its importance has been recognised in popular discourse to the extent that ‘networking’ has become a verb. Yet in spite of its rapid rise in popularity, there is much debate about the utility of social capital as a policy and conceptual tool. This paper provides an overview of academic debates about social capital, considering critiques both of the concept and of its use in policy. There is specific discussion of the relationship between social capital and, inter alia, associationalism, social exclusion and inequality, democracy, and gender. The paper finally illustrates how social capital is a key component within the policies of the New Labour Government.
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