Social capital and Social Movements DeFilippis article review

The editorial argues that modern enthusiasm in social capital by community development theorists, sponsors and practitioners is flawed and requires a complete overhaul and new research. The article goes on to argue that social capital as stated by Robert Putnam and his followers is a basically imperfect concept as it fails to recognize power challenges  in the production of goods and services in a community and because it breaks away from the economic capital. The article goes on to state followers of this theory stands a higher probability of using and understanding flawed concepts regarding social capital (DeFilippis, 2001).  The author of the article feels that  Glenn Loury and Pierre Bourdieu ideas and perspective towards social capital should be extensively used rather than the application of Robert Putnam ideas. The author concludes his article with a discussion of how both theories developed by scholars can be realized and applied in a community development practice.

The article begins with a different definition of social capital by different theories.  According to Loury, social capital is the social environment within which people ripening takes place strongly conditions what differently  equally effective persons can achieve.  Loury, goes on to state that people are often given equal opportunities to grow, and their success is significantly based on their innate capabilities.  The author of the article feels that the social background of an individual substantially affects their success and equality opportunity.  To him, people in urban centers are likely to have better and greater chances than from those in the rural areas.  However, the author fails to give factors that influence the innate capabilities that can lead to individual success (DeFilippis, 2012).  Moreover, he fails to give metrics that can be used to measure success and growth of individuals both in urban and rural regions. Additionally, the author would have given reasons or factors that brings all the differences in the opportunity given to people from different regions.

Furthermore, the article goes on to define social capital by French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu where he describes social capital as different concepts with two divisions in common as they comprise of aspects of social systems and they assist with particular activities of actors within these social structures. According to Bourdieu social capital is productive just like any other form of capital, thus making it possible for individuals to attain certain ends that would not have been possible without it.  However, the author fails to give the different course of actions, their outcome and their relationship with social capital (DeFilippis, 2001). Despite being one of the widely used theories in most institutions and being the missing link in global economic development, the author feels that Robert Putnam concepts and ideas of social capital make it a less useful systems for local and community economic growth.  According to the author,  Putnam transforms social capital from something that is realized and attained by persons in the community to something that is owned and an individual can claim possession.  The author goes on to state that Putnam ‘s ideas and concepts show that non-governmental organizations that are founded on trust are transformed into institutions that through which social concepts are generated.  However, he fails to show the readers how these social concepts are generated by institutions and how they are possessed rather than being realized (DeFilippis, 2001).  Despite his best efforts to show the differences between the set of theories and beliefs, the author has gaps that need to be filled to give his readers a piece of his mind and to give the ideas and concepts of the scholars fully.


DeFilippis, J. (2001). The myth of social capital in community development. Housing Policy Debate, 12(4), 781-806. doi:10.1080/10511482.2001.9521429

DeFilippis, J. (2012). Social Movements and Housing. International Encyclopedia of Housing and Home, 473-477. doi:10.1016/b978-0-08-047163-1.00044-8


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