JSNA Home > Social capital
Social capital describes the links that bind and connect people within and between communities. The resources available through organisations, community structures and networks create these links. These resources include information, ideas, social norms, emotional support, goodwill, trust, civic participation and cooperation.1 Such resources are not the personal assets of individuals but exist in networks of relationships. By capitalising these collective contributions, communities can get things done and value their collective achievement.
Social capital provides a source of resilience; a buffer against risks of poor health. It provides support which is critical to physical and mental well-being, through the networks that help people find work, learn and develop skills and cope with economic and social difficulties. The extent of people’s participation in their communities and the added control over their lives that this brings has the potential to contribute to their well-being and, as a result, to other outcomes.
Social capital comprises:
By choosing to invest differently and ensuring that policies are both owned by those most affected and are shaped by their experiences, social capital can be built at a local level to bring about healthier and more sustainable communities in Lancashire.
Indicators of social capital include:
The North West Regional Wellbeing Survey  found that people’s health and wellbeing and resilience greatly increase when they had access to good social and community networks.2 In addition, recent research demonstrates that programmes that improve people’s social relationships are at least as effective in increasing life expectancy as smoking cessation and weight management programmes.3
Opportunities to strengthen social capital include:
Community assets (the talents, gifts and capacity within communities) can make a significant contribution to social capital. Partners in Lancashire have been working to identify the assets within some local communities. The Lancashire JSNA highlights needs within the county but will be developing over 2012/13 to also include an overview of community assets.
Measuring social capital:
Social networks and social support:
Reciprocity and trust:
Views of the local area:
1 Putnam, R. D. (1993) Making Democracy Work. Civic traditions in modern Italy, Princeton University Press
2 Deacon et al (2009) Central Lancashire Mental Wellbeing Survey, Liverpool, North West Public Health Observatory
3 Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB, Layton JB (2010) Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review. PLoS Med 7(7): e1000316. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000316