Do You Have to be Social, to Build Social Capital?

For the past 50 years sociologists have closely studied the notion of social capital.  Most of this research has looked at the benefits of our relationships.  Indeed, the very moniker, "social capital," is defined as the value we reap though the relationships in our lives.  In these studies we know that people are healthier, happier, achieve more, feel more self confident, and even live longer because of their social capital.  These are powerful findings.

Yet, in my work with social capital, I have been more interested in how people, who are socially isolated, can build more relationships.  This is more of a practical focus on social capital, yet a critical one.  If we know that life is better with relationships, and we know that some people, due to their situation, are isolated, the key focus for me is in finding ways people can build social capital.

In our book, "Social Capital: The Key to Macro Change," Jeff Fromknecht and I look at a variety of ways and means for relationships to be developed.  e even frame a 4 step process that is associated with social capital.

Yet, in some situations, people are just not social.  In fact, given their condition, may have an aversion to other people or social situations.  This baits the question, can non-social people build social capital?

This is a complex issue, but I believe the answer is "yes." My rational for this answer is found in the fact that most relationships are not always 50/50.  Think about it.  There are times when you give way more than you take; or when you don't give very much at all, yet the relationship sustains.

Of course this is not as simple as the statement I just made; there is so much more that needs to be considered or explored.  Still, it offers a start point for consideration.  Even folks with a social aversion can build relationships that can reap valuable benefits, but this requires more from the second person.

So keep an eye on this blog as we explore some finer aspects of social capital.  In the end, relationships can happen for any of us.