Exploring Social Capital

Exploring Social Capital

Have you ever started reading a book and had to stop after the first chapter? Not because it's not good, but because it's SO good you have to pause to let the ideas settle in and do their work? Well this book, Bowling Alone by Robert D. Putnam has been just that. 

Bowling Alone Review
So far (in the first chapter) it's been discussing the idea of social capital which, according to Putnam, is 

"connections among individuals - social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them"

He talks about the value of general reciprocity in which someone does something for someone else without expecting anything specific in exchange for the favor because of the trust they have that it will somehow be repaid down the line. 

Putnam continues by saying that "trustworthiness lubricates social life.  Frequent interaction among a diverse set of people tends to produce a norm of generalized reciprocity."

Social Capital

Recently, I've been reflecting a lot on the role of community and social capital and how it related to Purse & Clutch. I am so overwhelmed with the quality of people I keep meeting and having the opportunity to collaborate with. 

In Bowling Alone, Putman mentions that there are two types of Social Capital: bonding and bridging. He describes bonding as sociological superglue and bridging as sociological WD-40. It's the bridging type of social capital that's most captured my attention, perhaps because of it's propensity to diversity.

The last few weeks a good portion of my time has been spent hammering out the details of a Pop-Up event I alluded to last week during the final week of April. We're calling it Poolside: A Summer Collection and it's such a beautiful collaboration of different business owners with similar visions. 

For example, I met Jessica of J. Hannah Co. through a fantastic woman named Clarissa who contacted me for a free lance writing project. Clarissa, incidentally, was working with one of our artisan groups, Handmade Expressions, at the time. She sent an email introduction and Jessica came to the Grand Opening party for the Holiday Pop-Up. Fast forward a few months and we're collaborating on a Pop-Up event together. 

Melissa of Stone + Smith went to the Austin Center for Design the year after my husband Jonathan attended. AC4D is a wonderfully supportive community and has been a really great connection point for me. Last summer, I was involved in what we called Fire Starters where several business owners met on Saturdays to devote a good chunk of the day to each other's businesses. Melissa was helping our friends at Girl's Guild at the time and we quickly hit it off. She was a big part of the success of our Holiday Pop Up and we're so excited to partner with her in an even larger capacity at Poolside. 

Melissa then connected us with Callie Thompson, the super talented art and textile designer at BEAM who also attended the Austin Center for Design with Melissa. 

Candice of Oh! Fox Creative was integral in helping us brainstorm the name our upcoming event in exchange for a few pre-mixed margaritas. I met Candice at the same Fire Starter events of last summer. 

I could go on and on about how amazing it is to be part of such a dynamic and giving community - and these examples are just focusing on one part of one event we're a part of.  

How are you creating social capital in your community? What examples do you have of bonding or bridging in your line of work or personal circles?

April 15, 2014 by Jen Lewis
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