refers to the inclination of a society towards collective life rather than individual life. The term encircles the social networks, associations and ties among the civilians of any country. The more connected to each other a society is, the higher social capital it has. Social capital is an important determinant of a society’s well-being. It includes development of trust and a reciprocal culture among the society. As measures of social capital, Putnam (1995) focuses on membership in associations. His thesis demonstrates the declining trend of membership in US. Subsequent research on the topic reveals that the 9/11 incident actually contributed to raise social capital in the country.
During the educational journey, people make friends and form ties with the teachers and class fellows. People form relationships with their colleagues and supervisors in their professional career. These social networks are vital for a healthy society. Isolation leads to premature deaths and deterioration of the social harmony. These connections are based on trust and allow humans to pursue their academic and professional careers with the realization that they have the confidence to share and enjoy with. As a result, people stay happy and the inclination towards criminal acts reduces.
Increasingly, people are becoming technology addict which hampers the growth of social capital. Whether it is the television taking up most of the time once used for social engagement or the use of the Ipad now becoming the medium of lectures in academic institutes, technology is reducing personal interaction. As a result, people are more in touch with their distant friends, perhaps through Facebook, but they are missing out on the small talk with their next-door neighbors.
Civic engagement increases chances of educational success as the students learn to apply their knowledge to actual real life situations. It leads to preparation for future employment experiences as the students focus on application of higher order skills, like critical analysis, on community related projects. They learn to deal with different people and nurture an overall healthy attitude towards society. The learning experiences gained from being civically engaged, help professionals to make strong business relationships based on trust and mutual understanding rather than being motivated by material gains.
The world has become a global village. Information flows at the speed of light across the globe, making the geographic boundaries irrelevant. People can share their views and interests virtually with anyone across the world. As immigration rises, the nationals of any country will have to deal with different people. Globalization provides opportunities for social networks to nurture tolerance for multi-ethnic societies and establish communication among global citizens. Developing a strong sense of social responsibility requires academic institutes and workplace environments to encourage multi-cultural understanding and respect for diversity.
Putnam, R. D. (1995). Bowling Alone: America's Declining Social Capital. Journal of Democracy, 65-78.
Sander, T. H., & Putnam, R. D. (2010). Still Bowling Alone? The post-9/11 split. Journal of Democracy, 9-16.