Social capital a simple concept.
Rich people are surrounded by rich people. Their kids play in other rich people’s houses and participate in fancy and expensive activities the average person cannot afford.
Not everyone acquires high-quality social capital in their lives — your family and friends have value, without a doubt, but for the purpose of this article, let’s establish that the value added must amount to a sum of money or an interpersonal connection facilitating a career or upward socioeconomic class mobility.
Access to certain types of social capital is cost-prohibitive and, in America, it is often affected by race relations, classism, and elitism. For example, country clubs are a great place for individuals to build community; members often boast about the quality of people one can meet at these establishments. In this scenario, the country club membership gives its members regular access to high-value social capital. However, country clubs tend to be exclusive — only open to their members; and they tend to be very expensive making them cost-prohibitive.
While all of us would benefit from meeting a business mogul at a country club, only some people can afford to access that kind of lifestyle — and social capital.
So…what’s the big deal?
Predictably, issues arise when some people are exposed to social capital while others are not or the social capital they are exposed to is inherently disparate thereby creating an unequal playing field for many individuals.
People who are consistently surrounded by social capital – with medium to high market-value – have an upper hand; they have insider knowledge.
Social capital with market-value is that which can help you grow your wealth or professional position. In effect, this would mean knowing influencers, investors, and other professionals with access to power and wealth.
A recent Los Angeles Times editorial reported a state audit’s finding of “improper influence in admissions” at the University of California.
The report concluded that “by admitting 64 noncompetitive applicants, the university undermined the fairness and integrity of its admissions process and deprived more qualified students of the opportunity for admission.”
Donald Hossler, a senior scholar at the Center for Enrollment Research Policy and Practice of the University of Southern California, noted the aforementioned impropriety can “result in admissions for students from families with social capital” undermining first-gen and low-income applicants, who tend not to have access to the same social capital at the time of application.
How can you improve your social capital?
It’s all about learning new tricks and new trades.
Our academy and content co-op can help you build community with like-minded people while exposing you to new information.
Exposure to new social capital — relationships and experiences — fosters individual economic stability, and promotes “the realization of community resources via individual and collective activity, and entrepreneurship, aimed at improving the local quality of life by drawing on and pooling local talents” (McMichael 377).