Social Capital: A Theory of Social Structure and Action

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Social Capital explains the importance of using social connections and social relations in achieving goals. Social capital, or resources accessed through such connections and relations, is critical (along with human capital, or what a person or organization actually possesses) in achieving goals for individuals, social groups, organizations, and communities. The book introduces a theory that forcefully argues and shows why "it is who you know," as well as "what you know" that makes a difference in life and society.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Lin succeeds in clarifying a muddled body of work on social capital ... [this book] makes its own unique contribution by exploring diverse issues related to the social capital idea." International Journal of Social Welfare

"Social Capital is a magisterial analysis of how social networks are a key to individual achievement and social inclusion. Nan Lin shows that those who depend only on market transactions ignore at their peril the social relationships that underlie and shape deals. Those who read this book will increase their human capital by learning how to increase their social capital." Barry Wellman, University of Toronto

"This long-needed and richly detailed volume, by one of the original theorists of social capital, organizes and advances on the key intellectual challenges and accomplishments of the field of structural sociology. Immensely readable and relevant to today's most interesting sociological questions regarding economic life, Lin's book succeeds in bursting open new doors to the theoretically and substantively important consequences of social capital." Brian Uzzi, Northwestern University

"In Social Capital Nan Lin takes on the long overdue task of meshing incoming network theory with social stratification and mobility theory - in both cases with guidance from empirical research. Aptly, Lin demonstrates the 'strength of weak models': by avoiding technical specifications he not only makes the book accessible to the non-numerate but also suggests how his themes can bear on different disciplinary interests and venues." Harrison White, Columbia University

"Social Capital integrates Nan Lin's two decades of work on social resources and instrumental action. It carefully distinguishes the capital residing in social networks from economic, human, and cultural capital. Drawing on his original research in both the United States and East Asia, Lin presents compelling empirical evidence showing provocative theoretical extensions about the role of social capital in the formation of both networks and reputations, and argues that developments in information techmology have led to a dramatic rise in the formation of social capital." Peter V. Marsden, Harvard University

Lin (sociology, Duke U.) presents his theory of social capital, in which resources imbedded in a social structure are accessed and/or mobilized in purposive action. Wedding his theory with classical and neoclassical notions of capital, he suggest s that resources can be seen as material or symbolic goods. The way in which meaning and significance are assigned to those goods are at the heart of his analysis. He argues that social exchange is characterized by a similar rationality as economic exchange. The theory is applied to certain societal transformations (such as the rise of women's studies departments in academia) to test its validity. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

Table of Contents

Part I. Theory and Research: 1. Theories of capital: the historical foundation; 2. Social capital: capital captured through social relations; 3. Resources, hierarchy, networks, and homophily: the structural foundation; 4. Resources, motivations, and interactions: the action foundation; 5. The theory and theoretical propositions; 6. Social capital and status attainment: a research tradition; 7. Inequality in social capital: a research agenda; Part II. Conceptual Extensions: 8. Social capital and the emergence of social structure: a theory of rational choice; 9. Reputation and social capital: the rational basis for social change; 10. Social capital in hierarchical structures; 11. Institutions, networks and capital building; 12. Cybernetworks and the global village: the rise of social capital; Part III. Epilogue: 13. The future of the theory.
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