Working paper

Indicators of social capital: social capital as the product of local interactive learning processes

15 Sep 1998



A case study in a rural Australian township attempted to determine indicators verifying the existence of social capital. Social capital is provisionally defined as the networks, norms, and trust that constitute the capacity of individuals, workplaces, groups, organizations, and communities to strive for sustainable futures in a changing socioeconomic environment. Participants in the study were chosen based on recommendations of community members on who provides them with help, advice, or information. Analysis of interviews, tape-recorded community meetings and interactions, and personal diaries identified three categories of resources that people draw on as they interact with each other: 1) knowledge resources, or the shared knowledge of community, personal, individual, and collective information; 2) identity resources, or the shared understandings of personal, individual, and collective identities; and 3) consolidated resources, the common understanding and familiarity with community assets used reciprocally for mutual benefit. A set of indicators of these resources used in "community interactive productivity" was then developed. Interactive productivity is viewed as the community learning processes by which social capital is created. The terms "community learning" and "capacity building," and the possible causal link between social capital and economic well-being are discussed.

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