Social Capital

 | February 17, 2009 8:04 AM

I read an interesting short article today about social capital.

Sociologist Robert Putnam believes the following are indicators of social capital:

  • How many of your neighbor’s first names do you know?
  • How often do you attend parades or festivals?
  • Do you volunteer at your kid’s school? Or help out senior citizens?
  • Do you trust your local police?
  • Do you know who your U.S. senators are?
  • Do you attend religious services? Or go to the theater?
  • Do you sign petitions? Or attend neighborhood meetings?
  • Do you think the people running your community care about you?
  • Can you make a difference?
  • How often do you visit with friends or family?

Measuring Prosperity: What Is Social Capital? » My Money Blog

For me personally I would answer in the following way.

  • I know a few of my neighbor’s first names but not enough.
  • I have never attended parades or festivals but I am now reconsidering my ambivalence towards them.
  • I volunteer at an after school program at the local public elementary school but that is part of my church.  Since we home school I don’t feel compelled to volunteer at the school.  I don’t help out senior citizens but I have been thinking about how that could be something good that the whole family could do.
  • I trust my local police enough to call them in an emergency event but I don’t completely trust them.  That might be an immigrant thing.
  • I know my U.S.  senators and my local representative, Boxer, Feinstein, Eshoo.  However beyond their names I feel like I know verry little about them, especially Boxer.
  • I attend church regularly.  We don’t go to the theater though that would be nice to do once the kids are older.
  • At the farmer’s market they often have petitions so I do enjoy signing the ones I support.  I have not attended any neighborhood meetings but we are on a neighborhood email list.
  • I don’t know anything about the people running my neighborhood but I don’t believe that they necessarily care about me though sometimes my needs and theirs are common.
  • I think I can make a difference.  I am not sure if I have made much yet.
  • We visit with friends a lot which we really enjoy.  We don’t have family in the immediate area but my mom is here for two months. 🙂

2 Responses to “Social Capital”

essny wrote a comment on February 17, 2009

I’ve been meaning to read Putnam’s book BOWLING ALONE for years now.

I remember when I lived in my studio and had a housewarming party and I invited my neighbors on my floor, plus the guy who lived downstairs, as well as the cute guy who lived in the building (haha). When friends heard about my inviting strangers, they thought it was so weird. I didn’t think it was weird. I mean, they were my neighbors. I should know who they are in case of emergency, as well as for pure social reasons, saying “hi” in the hallways, and in case there’s some sort of misunderstanding, easier to deal with. Also, it makes for living in the city, alone, a bit less lonely.

But maybe once you are in a relationship (marriage/live-in) and/or have kids, and live out in the suburbs, it’s like you want to just keep to that social unit. I don’t know. It’s interesting, though, to know people who live in apartment buildings and yet have no idea who lives across the hall/above/below them.

seonghuhn wrote a comment on February 17, 2009

That’s very cool that you did that. I couldn’t do it because I’m shy and scared of people but I have thought of doing just that and how nice it would be. I think you have inspired me to at least think about it a little more.

Care to comment?