Social Capital and Shocks Coping Strategies
A variety of concepts and definitions of social capital are found in the contemporary literature. Some authors define social capital as an intangible asset which is non-physical and being difficult to measure in monetary terms. Others have mentioned that social capital is generated through membership of social networks at different levels, ranging from the individual or household to the local political system. But these definitions do not have a clear and undisputed meaning and they are not free from criticism and disagreement for ideological reasons (Dolfsman and Dannreuther 2003; Foley and Edwards 1997). Some authors argued that definition may vary between disciplines, level and subject of investigation. It also varies with the variation of relations and structure of relations among actors. Social capital has multidimensional aspects ranging from sociological to economic. But common to most definitions of social capital is that they focus on social relations that have productive benefits. In other words, we can say that social capital is the fruit of social relations and benefits derived from the cooperation between individuals and groups. Just like physical and human capital, social capital increases productivity. A plough (physical capital) and university education (human capital) can increase productivity both individually and collectively. Similarly, social networks, relations and contacts (social capital) can also increase the productivity of individuals and groups. Since social capital is an intangible asset, it is very difficult to measure its scale and thus benefit directly. But we can realize the benefit positively from social networks, relationships and participations (Dasgupta 1999). Social capital is important for the well-being of the poor since they are repeatedly affected by natural calamities and it is useful for them to cope with problems of different dimensions, such as health services, food insecurity and access to public services. But in rural Bangladesh there is dearth of social organisations, social networks, cohesion and trust among people that can work as a safety net for rural people particularly for the poor. Thus social capital is particularly important to economic and social development of the rural poor at individual and collective levels. The NGOs in rural areas play an important role in forming institutional social capital among the poor. Institutional capital is more structured and regulated (Ostrom 1990; Coleman 1988).
KeywordsSocial Capital Coping Strategy Household Head Poor Household Intangible Asset
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