Social Science Information 42 (2):155-183 (2003)

The aim of this article is not only to provide an overview of the state of recent discussion about the concept of social capital, it is also an attempt at critical reflection on theoretical and empirical research efforts. The question is whether the concept of social capital is a fashionable term proposed as a cure-all for the maladies affecting contemporary communities, organizations and societies as a whole or whether it has more long-term strategic - theoretical as well as applicable - meaning for sociology and other social-science disciplines. Despite the deficiencies of the recent research findings, we argue that the latter is true. The concept represents a very important conceptual innovation which can facilitate the theoretical integration within sociology and the inter- and trans-disciplinary collaboration of sociology and other disciplines, especially economics. The article emphasizes the problems of reception, definition and operationalization, and the developmental role of social capital.
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DOI 10.1177/0539018403042002001
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