Social Capital as a Resource in Migration Processes

  • Cristina Natili
  • Fiorenza Misale
Part of the Europe in a Global Context book series (EGC)


The explicit introduction of the term “social capital” can be traced back to the late 1970s, but it is only in the recent years that it has started to be discussed. With the concept of social capital, one wants to demonstrate that economic choices are not only influenced by availability of economic resources, but also by the availability of the social resources, in particular by the network of relationships in which the individual is placed. It is a turning point that has matured in a climate of reaction to the “hyper-socialized” actor, tied to Parson’s sociology, and accompanied by major attention to the relational dynamics at a micro-sociological level. In order to introduce the concept of social capital, we refer to Pizzorno’s contribution [see Bagnasco et al. (2000)]. The author explains that sociology begins to deal with social capital only later on because for more than a century sociology tried to determine the boundaries that separated it from the social science that described itself as hegemonic—economics. It seemed as if the social relations of exchange should be studied by economics, and the non-exchange relations, and thus the friendly relations or those of mutual support, should be studied by sociology. Later on the boundaries started to fade: economics began to use the concept of “human capital” to identify the building up of acquaintances with which the individual contributes to the productive process of richness. So, to explain how this was formed, thanks to social relationships, we started talking about social capital. However, when talking about social capital, we are not referring to all kinds of social relationships. We must select as social capital carriers those relationships where it is possible that the more or less durable identity of the participants is recognized and in which forms of solidarity and reciprocity are hypothesized. Thus, relationships that are not able to build on social capital must be excluded, as should be exchange relationships, encounters between people who don’t carry on their relationship in time and, finally, those of hostility, exploitation or conflict in a general sense. These all have the fact that they don’t need the recognizability of the other’s identity in common, as in the case of conflict. Instead, social capital implicates the presence of a stable and durable relation. It can be activated by a determined subject of action, but exists independent from those scopes and, thus, from being activated in their function.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cristina Natili
    • 1
  • Fiorenza Misale
    • 2
  1. 1.Università La SapienzaRomaItaly
  2. 2.Università di Roma TreRomaItaly

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