What is Social Capital?

Social Capital is the operating system on which a trusting, tolerant and respectful communities runs

Cover of Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam (2000)

Social Capital is not a new concept. L.J. Hanifan was using the term over a century ago to refer to social and communal networks that provide the “tangible substances” that count the most in the daily lives of people.

Robert Putnam popularised the theory in his 2000 book Bowling Alone.


“Our economy, our democrac

y, and even our health and happiness depend on adequate stocks of social capital”

Robert Putnam

There are 3 types of Social Capital:




“Each one of us…can be a builder of social capital. We’re part of the solution used for sticking things together, the ‘glue’ that makes communities better places to live”

Jody Horntvedt

“Prosperity requires not just investment in economic capital, but investment in social capital”

Mark Carney


Social capital thrives on authenticity and withers in the presence of phoniness or manipulation”

Dan Cohen & Laurence Prusak