Social capital has been used in many different ways, and one aim of this chapter is to introduce a definition that is useful for the general theory that we propose in this book. Consequently, we limit ourselves to three major categories of capital: physical, human and social. Thus real estate capital is a combination of physical and social capital, while wages and salaries are payments for the human and social capital combinations that make each individual worker unique. We argue that it is helpful to use three levels of aggregation when analyzing social capital: micro, meso and macro. At the micro level, we find more or less stable interpersonal networks that tie people to one another in ways that increase “labor productivity,” while the meso level represents the various associations and subcultures that make up what is commonly referred to as civil society. The macro level of social capital is less obviously based on networks: it consists of the shared institutions and values that make a society more or less conducive to economic activities, ranging from everyday market transactions to disruptive product innovations. We thus view “institutional capital” and “cultural capital” as subsets of social capital. Logistical revolutions tend to have a social capital dimension. At present, the most visible manifestation of this is the cohort-driven change in social values from materialist, modernist values toward post-materialist, postmodern ones. Ronald Inglehart was the first to identify this restructuring, referring to it as “the silent revolution” in the 1970s.
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