Negative Effects of Social Capital

Although social capital has been defined in several different ways by different experts, however, most commonly it can be called as the outcome of social relations. It not only comprises of financial benefit but also includes expectative benefits that are derived from the cooperation between various groups and individuals.

The major difference between the financial capital and social capital is that the latter fosters positive relationships and thus enhances the fulfillment and the confidence. Even after having so many benefits, social capital can also produce some unwanted results. Yes, it is surprising but true that when we analyze the other side of social capital, we may find that it can put burdens on the society.

Let us discuss how social capital can be detrimental to the society and can bring about the negative consequences.

Social capital producing negative outcomes is generally called as negative social capital. The potential downsides include restrictions on individual freedom, excess claims on group members and exclusion of outsiders. Additionally, instead of focusing on creating the bond between the two worlds - rich and poor, it emphasizes on bridging the gap between them. The result is that it is deepening the gap between the two. It also puts a barrier in social mobility.

Individuals working in social enterprises need to abide by certain rules and regulations and are supposed to do only what is expected. Their personal development and new ideas in most cases are not welcome. In such a scenario, it gives a sense as if it were creating unwanted results. Though every feature of social capital produces desired results but along with this, it also produces a liability too.

Social capital is all about bridging the gap between the rich and the poor. Yes, it definitely improves the economic conditions of the poor but also increases the gap between the two. The individuals who are benefitted by social capital almost lose their mobility. There is a slight change in their condition but they are stuck in the same employment all through their life. Apart from this, outsiders are totally excluded. It means that benefits of social capital can be availed by only a particular section of the society. Robert D. Putnam, the author of ‘Bowling Alone’ links social capital to the decline in American political participation. According to him, the political institution and democracy are overpowered by the social groups and this lead to the adverse outcomes. In normal circumstances, it isolates certain communities from rest of the world but social capital group which is extremely strong can become the reason for the isolation of a particular ethnic group from the society.

Later works of Robert D. Putnam also emphasize on the fact that the rise of social capital can also result in increased racial diversity in communities. The negative effect of social capital can also be seen in society. Earlier, women did not vote at the similar levels as that of men but the difference between them is almost diminishing. Social capital is available to all types of communities regardless of their nature and slowly it is becoming a way for women to participate in local politics. Now the scenario is that they are more engaged in politics and have an informal way to operate. What is negative is not their participation in politics but it is their way that is keeping this activity off the radar. They are not focused on national or international politics.

Apart from this, there are several other negative effects of social capital in the field of internet, civil society and educational achievements.


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