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Christoforou, A. (2003). On the identity of social capital and the social capital of identity. Cambridge Journal of Economics 37, 719–736
In contemporary economics, social capital is identified by some with norms and networks that enhance trust, reciprocity and cooperation for the production of public goods. But critics claim that social capital is principally of individualist origin and provides solid ground for the subordination of labour by capital. We argue that, despite neoclassical (mis)treatments, more socialised conceptions of social capital address individuals’ capacities to share a sense of social obligation and common identity and pursue joint strategies for public welfare. We attempt to reinstate the ‘social’ in social capital via the concept of social embeddedness, where individuals freely engage in processes of reflection, social mobilisation and political debate to assess different and often conflicting values and objectives across multiple collective agencies. Choices thus depend not only on personal utility, but also on personal identity, i.e. what kind of person one wants to be and what kind of society one wishes to have.


Christoforou, Asimina

Asimina Christoforou is Adjunct Professor at the Athens University of Economics and Business, Greece, and Co-ordinator of the Social Capital Working Group of the International Initiative for Promoting Political Economy (IIPPE). She is member of the editorial board of the Journal of Economic Issues...

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