Sunday, January 20, 2013

Social Capital

The medicine – which the citizenry itself seems to be administering to Greek society – is the sum of all the bonds of collaboration, trustworthiness, solidarity and mutual aid that are developed during collective (mainly voluntary) initiatives. These bonds enable people to work together, learn from each other and build what is known as social capital. According to Robert Putnam’s widely quoted description, social capital refers to ‘the connections among individuals – social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them’ and is the fundamental ingredient of a healthy civil society. Yannis Theocharis
Unfortunately both capitalism and the current form of welfare state sucks the social capital out of people. Still, the worst threat to people's social capital is the current form of city planning and architecture.
Today, 2,400 years later, social research agrees that civic skills advance democratic values: the more knowledgeable citizens are about civic principles, and the more they participate in voluntary and community-based initiatives, the more likely they are to support democratic values – starting with tolerance in others.Yannis Theocharis
The irony is that the ALL-EMBRACING Norwegian welfare state more and more cripples civil society and hence threatens democratic values.
One of the long-standing findings of social research is the long-term and defining impact of participation in extracurricular and voluntary associations during childhood on civic engagement. Injecting civic education into schools, participating in voluntary associations and engaging in community service programmes that combine community outreach allow children and young adults to develop participatory skills and an interest in and concern about the general welfare. Although civic skills are already part of the school curriculum in Greece (though only once, at 3rd grade), much more can be done on the institutional, community and individual levels, especially when the social fabric is under such strain and the formal institutional structure is highly dysfunctional. Yannis Theocharis
This can hardly take place within a modernist city, but it can fully unfold in a Village Town!

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