Sociologie Românească, Vol. V, no. 3/2007, pp. 3-22.




Social capital, trust, and information: some consequences for social policy


Petru Iluţ


*Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca


Full text (PDF) pdf_button





Abstract: Analysing several definitions, elements, characteristics and types of social capital, it is also suggested as relevant the distinction between structural (stabile) and circumstantial social capital. In fact, we should rather talk about structural and circumstantial (contextual) solidarity. On the other hand, it is very important to circumscribe more precisely what social capital (solidarity) means, because if its content and sphere are extended too much, the concept dilutes and risks losing its descriptive and explanatory power. As for trust, I present and comment on its two main paradigms of interpretation: utilitarian and moral principles, on the role of information and also discuss in a broad sense the theory of asymmetrical information and its consequences in formulating and implementing social policies. In the effort of building a larger stock of social capital it is necessary to create efficient links both vertical (between micro-, mezzo-, and macrosocial entities) and horizontal (on the same level). Considering also the dark side of social capital and solidarity, some possible tensions between administrative decentralization and local interests groups are revealed. Finally, starting from the premise that any action has to rely on an accurate knowledge of the social reality, the article describe some ways to optimize the methodology of the study of social capital, trust and other related concepts.