Social, Religious and Spiritual Capitals: A Psychological Perspective
This article locates the concept of social capital and its faith-basedcorrelates—religious and spiritual capital—within a psychological framework. Upto now, these correlates have been deployed primarily within a social policy and political science discourse. Having located these concepts, the article develops a hypothesis, based on qualitative case study material, that religiously based motivation (spiritual capital) and religiously based participation (religious capital) work in mutually reinforcing ways to produce a virtuous cycle (or feedback loop) of capitals (including bridging and linking forms of capital—as well as bonding).
The psychological dimensions of spiritual capital are typologised and then linked to a series of theological motifs and words that appear to trigger these psychological states. These psycho-theological motifs are then further examined for their potential contribution to what Donal Dorr refers to as a “balanced spirituality”, which sees the possibility of change and transformation at a number of levels (including the social/political) and which also corresponds to classic understandings of the beneficial impact of social capital at micro, meso and macro levels (see Halpen and Putnam). The article concludes by linking this typologising to existing models of psychology of religion and measurement systems (e.g. Fisher, Allport and Ross) before raising some critical questions about the dominance of the capital paradigm as a sufficiently nuanced tool by which to evaluate the nature and psychologicalimpact of faith-based engagement in civil society.
KeywordsSocial Capital Civil Society Church Member Faith Community Virtuous Cycle
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