Social Capital


Bourdieu was very clear: social capital augments the power of holders of real capital. It is class-related, and appropriately ancillary to real capital. Putnam and conformist writers use it to pretend people who
don’t have real capital are not so badly off, after all, they have social capital.

It’s a way of blaming the victim: what, you’re unemployed? Go use your social capital to get a job, or start a business, or something. Go bond or go bridge, but don’t bother us.

Certainly networking and solidarity are important, maybe crucial. But they function, for working people, in opposition to real capital. Words matter; if everyone has one form of capital or another, if baby-sitting for your grandchildren is a form of capital, social capital, for your children too, then capital is a good thing, they  shouldn’t knock it, or tax it, or object when it gets bailed-out.

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About pmarcuse

Just starting this blog, for short pieces on current issues. Suggestions for improvement, via e-mail, very welcome. pm35@columbia.edu
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