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Social Capital and Peace

Abstract

Social capital refers to the norms, networks, and trust which enable groups or societies to achieve things together which their members would not be able to do separately. It can be a useful conceptual tool for analyzing conflict dynamics and peace processes. It highlights the way in which relationships are central to conflict and its resolution, and the ways in which these relationships are changed as the conflict evolves. Social capital is created, destroyed, and transformed as societies experience conflict, and this in turn affects their ability to recover from it. Trust can be undermined, yet it is central to reaching agreement and taking risks for peace. Existing norms may be undermined, new ones created (such as around the use of violence), and other norms promoted as new social and political structures are tried out in the search for a resolution. Social networks are also transformed and may be important in creating the right environment for implementing a peace agreement. Social capital is therefore affected by conflict and also important in peacebuilding and establishing lasting solutions. It comes in many forms, not all of them positive. Understanding social capital helps us to see the underlying processes – especially at local or interpersonal levels – which are often overlooked but which are fundamental to sustainable peace.

Keywords

  • Peacebuilding
  • Social contract
  • Trust
  • Norms
  • Networks
  • Disarmament
  • Reintegration
  • Transitional justice
  • Liberia
  • Sierra Leone

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Correspondence to Walt Kilroy .

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Kilroy, W. (2021). Social Capital and Peace. In: Standish, K., Devere, H., Suazo, A., Rafferty, R. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Positive Peace. Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-3877-3_47-1

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-3877-3_47-1

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