Social capital

 

In sociology, social capital is the expected collective or economic benefits derived from the preferential treatment and cooperation between individuals and groups. Although different social sciences emphasize different aspects of social capital, they tend to share the core idea "that social networks have value". Just as a screwdriver (physical capital) or a university education (cultural capital or human capital) can increase productivity (both individual and collective), so do social contacts affect the productivity of individuals and groups.[1]

We're all embedded in vast social networks of friends, family, co-workers and more. Nicholas Christakis tracks how a wide variety of traits -- from happiness to obesity -- can spread from person to person, showing how your location in the network might impact your life in ways you don't even know.

Nicholas Christakis explores how the large-scale, face-to-face social networks in which we are embedded affect our lives, and what we can do to take advantage of this fact

 

http://www.ted.com/talks/nicholas_christakis_the_hidden_influence_of_social_networks.html

Dec 10 2012: This talk by Nicholas Christakis focuses on the ubiquity of social networks and their role in building social capital. He focuses on how our social networks affect our lives and how these clusters of networks arise. Like authors from this semester, Christakis highlights the importance of diversity in networks. He says a network has more resources available if members have contact with many other people as opposed to a network where each of the members is connected to one another. During his talk, Christakis provides images and animations to help listeners visualize and understand the correlation between one’s network of friends/family and one’s likelihood of becoming obese.
While he does not explicitly use poverty as an example, I believe Christakis’ theories clearly relate to those of DeFilippis and Fraser in “Why Do We Want Mixed-Income Housing and Neighborhoods?”. In that essay, the authors emphasize the importance of placing low-income residents in close proximity to middle-class homes because it can help foster a sense of work ethic and common culture in poorer families. Additionally, the contact between residents of different classes helps make financial resources and job opportunities available that are often nonexistent in ghettos or more class segregated communities. 
A similar argument was made in Chapter Two of Venice by Andrew Deener. He mentions that Holiday Venice was a project that constructed Section 8 subsidized housing buildings throughout Oakwood for the families most in need. Since the project buildings were scattered throughout the neighborhood, instead of clustered together in one spot, residents of Holiday Venice were more likely to form useful networks with middle-class neighbors who resided in single-family dwellings.
The importance of building social capital and social networks was reiterated in many weeks’ readings. Root Shock by Fullilove explored the consequences of urban renewal on the social networks in African American communities

 

 


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