What is social capitalism

Social capital

In a free order, the economy and society can only be successful if they have voluntarily created inner binding forces that ensure cohesion beyond formal and legal rules. In addition to human, physical and monetary capital, social capital represents a fourth asset that a society must produce and accumulate in order to maintain internal cohesion and successful cooperation.

Social capital is understood to mean trust, norms, mutual support and informal relationships in a society that enable coordinated behavior of the members. Social capital can therefore also be described as a guarantee of reliability and characterizes the relationships between people or groups. Associations can be seen as an organized example of social capital (corporatism system). They are part of the infrastructure of well-established relationships and contribute to cooperation, compromises, information and interest representation through negotiations.

Not only the individuals among themselves depend on social capital, but also the intermediate level of the associations and clubs. At the level between the state and the economy, social capital is therefore an indispensable prerequisite for sustainable, good and constructive cooperation in the interests of the common good. After all, market-based transactions in particular require this asset in order to function (trust in the market partner and his compliance with contracts, rules and norms).

The use of the concept of capital in this context results from the contribution it makes to the welfare and prosperity of a society. In contrast to the other forms of capital, social capital cannot define so-called owners and property rights, nor is it intended to be produced;

As a result, it is not based on specific investment decisions, such as the formation of physical capital. Its use does not diminish its value either; the opposite can be the case. However, it is subject to the possibility of abuse and, like the other capital variants, can be destroyed. Its abuse can often have negative consequences for the formation of the remaining capital. Too much social capital can ultimately lead to the exclusion of individuals and groups (closed-shop situation) and also make innovations more difficult because innovations are not made due to internal group pressures.

Particularly in the course of modernization and individualization, a disintegration of social capital was feared (loss of trust, weakening of institutions such as schools, families and religious communities, increasing reluctance to commit to long-term relationships). But empirically no dramatic decline can be determined. Usually old forms of social capital are replaced by new ones. In this way, intra-family help is often replaced by local neighborhood help or the decline in membership in established institutions such as trade unions and political parties is offset by an increase in involvement in citizens' initiatives and self-help groups.

Active direct promotion of social capital by politics is hardly possible; Indirect measures such as exemplary and encouragement or the provision of infrastructural conditions (e.g. premises, support for contact facilities, recognition of commitment, support for civic forms of active commitment) seem most likely to be suitable for supporting and increasing social capital in a society.

Overall, because of the social nature of human beings, it cannot be expected that a society's social capital will be used up without being replaced; it is more subject to fluctuations and constant change. Every society will repeatedly develop forms of social capital by means of "spontaneous orders" that it needs to solve its problems. As long as they prove themselves, they will last. It also applies to the forms of social capital that competition can be viewed as a suitable "discovery process" (F.A. von Hayek). (Me)