Networks of social capital

Three broad types of networks that together make up the social capital in an area have been identified1

  • Bonding social capital - characterised by strong bonds (or 'social glue') e.g. among family members or among members of an ethnic group. These are often the types of networks that are needed to provide personal support and characterise close friendships
  • Bridging social capital - characterised by weaker, less dense but more cross-cutting ties ('social oil') e.g. with business associates, acquaintances, friends from different ethnic groups, friends of friends and so on. For example, knowing someone who knows someone who can help you get a job has been found to be the single most important way in which unemployed people find employment
  • Linking social capital - characterised by connections between those with differing levels of power or social status e.g. links between the political elite and the general public or between individuals from different social classes or groups. This can be essential when brokering new and constructive relationships where, for example, community relations have broken down.