Building on the work of sociologist James Coleman, political scientist Robert Putnam popularized the term social capital to describe how basic features of civic life, such as trust in others and membership in groups, provides the basis for people to engage in collective action. Even though social capital is not explicitly political, it structures various types of activities that are essential to maintaining civil and democratic institutions. Thus, social capital is defined as the resources of information, norms, and social relations embedded in communities that enable people to coordinate collective action and to achieve common goals.

It is important to recognize that social capital involves both psychological (e.g. trusting attitudes) and sociological (e.g. group membership) factors and, as such, is a multi-level construct. At the macro ...

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