Social capital and communities of place
This paper develops a framework for examining the questions: Does social capital make a difference for well being in communities of place? How might rural sociologists utilize social capital to further well being in communities? The author reviews social capital literature, contrasting rational choice and embedded perspectives. Opting for a marriage between embedded and conflict theory, he introduces entrepreneurial social infrastructure (ESI) as an alternative to social capital. ESI adds to social capital the notions of equality, inclusion, and agency. Research results are presented which support the embedded approach: community-level action (the community field) is not simply an aggregation of individual or organizational actions within the community; social capital and ESI contribute jointly and independently to community action. Examining economic development as a form of collective action, the author concludes the following: a) ESI contributes to economic development, and b) inclusiveness (internal solidarity) is more closely related to community self-development while industrial recruitment is better predicted by strong external ties.