Beyond community and society: The externalities of social capital building

  • John M. Heffron


The concept of social capital is both a very new and a very old one. Even the earliest human societies, in their efforts to manage and control a hostile physical environment, produced assets that gave their strivings a larger, cumulative effect, one of the earmarks of social capital formation. Pre-scientific societies, anthropologists tell us, engaged in a process of ordering and classifying their experience that if not scientific in our modern sense of the term was not entirely mythological either. What Claude L evi-Strauss has called the science of the concrete — ‘the organization and exploitation of the sensible world in sensible terms’ — is a quintessentially human activity, as relevant to our ancient ancestors as it is to us today (Levi-Strauss, 1973: p. 16). Pre-modern forms of social capital tended to be nested in structures, not individuals; they were context dependent, time-bound, and almost exclusively group-based (Redfield, 1953).


Social Capital Liberal Democratic Party Social Capital Formation Effective Public Policy Social Capital Building 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • John M. Heffron
    • 1
  1. 1.Educational Research Programs, Pacific Basic Research CenterSoka University of AmericaUSA

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