Author: John Harriss
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8187496169
This book explores the origins of the idea of social capital, and its diverse meanings. Social capital has come to play a significant part in 'the anti-politics machine' that is constituted by the discourses of international development.
The idea of social capital – meaning, most simply put, ‘social connections’ – was unheard of outside a small circle of sociologists until very recently. Now it is proclaimed by the World Bank to be ‘the missing link’ in international development, and it has become the subject of a flurry of books and research papers, including some, recently, on India.
This book explores the origins of the idea of social capital, and its diverse meaning, in the work of James Coleman, Pierre Boundieu, and of Robert Putnam – who is responsible, more than any other, through his work on Italy and the United States, for its extraordinary rise. John Harriss then asks why this notion should have taken off in the dramatic way that it has done, and finds in its uses by the world Bank the attempt, systematically, to obscure class relations and power. Social capital has thus come to play a significant part in ‘the anti-politics machine’ that is constituted by the discourses of international development.
This powerful and lucid critique will be of immense use to all those interested in development studies, including sociologists, economist, planners, and NGO and other activists.
Introduction: The ‘Missing Link’ and the ‘Anti-politics Machine’
Where the ‘Missing Link’ Came from
(or, how a Harvard professor became a celebrity)
The Fragility of the Foundations
(or, why the Harvard Professor’s idea is so misleading)
‘Anti-Politics’ in America
The Debate About Social Capital and Civil Society in the United States
(or, another Harvard professor enters the fray)
Social Capital and ‘Synergy Across the Public-private Divide’
(or, a California professor comes to the rescue?)
The Trojan Horse?
Social Capital in the World Bank
Putting Social Capital to Work
What Happened to the Trojan Horse
The Case for Political Action