Geografie 2010, 115, 64-77

The concept of social capital: an attempt to summarize theoretical and methodological points-of-departure and approaches to its study

Jan Pileček

Univerzita Karlova v Praze, Přírodovědecká fakulta, katedra sociální geografie a regionálního rozvoje, Albertov 6, 128 43 Praha 2, Czechia

Received April 2009
Accepted August 2009

The paper presents a survey of selected theoretical and methodological issues surrounding social capital as well as applicable approaches to its study, with an emphasis on the concept’s geographical aspects. Attention is focused, primarily, on definitions of the term social capital, upon which the outlined typology of different forms of social capital is based. Critical reactions to the concept of social capital are presented and discussed. Methods of measuring social capital are also discussed, including selected examples of specific empirical inquiries and indicators used, as is the relationship of social capital and territorial development, with examples from the Czech geographical environment. As indicated by the broad spectrum of aspects discussed, social capital presents a very complicated and, to a certain degree, a disarranged issue. Considering future geographical observations of social capital topics, it is necessary to give detailed attention to the deepening of the theoretical discussion concerning the interconnectivity of geography and social capital, the role of social capital in territorial development and measuring social capital, or rather seeking out relevant indicators.


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