What is social capital?

There is no single definition of social capital. Different observers have given a particular emphasis in how they define it. TLAP are using the definition of social capital outlined by the Office for Public Management (OPM) and the London Borough of Camden.

"Social capital describes the pattern and intensity of networks among people and the shared values that arise from those networks."1

TLAPs Care and Support Jargon Buster defines 'social capital' in the following way:

The connections that are made between people who live in the same area or are part of the same community, and who are able to do things with and for each other. Strong neighbourhoods, clubs and groups help create a sense of community, enabling people to trust each other, work together and look out for each other.

It has also been described as, 'the glue that holds individuals together as a community.1

The key elements of social capital for Think Local Act Personal are:

  • Personal and social support networks: of family, friends, neighbours
  • Membership of groups: As we know that the act of association alone has a tremendous effect on health and happiness
  • A welcoming and inclusive local community: in which older and disabled people are able to get out and about to use universal services and feel safe and included
  • Making a contribution: Where everyone is valued for their unique talents, skills and gifts and has the opportunity to have a say, to influence and to participate.

1. R Muir, H Khan (Eds) (2006) 'Sticking together: Social capital and local government. The results and implications of the Camden social capital surveys 2002 and 2005'. ippr and London Borough of Camden, p. 6.