[CfP] Conference 2016 – Social Capital Working Group
Asimina Christoforou, Athens University of Economics and Business
Luca Andriani, Birkbeck, University of London
Economic models of social capital incorporate cooperative behaviour and trusting relations based on social norms and networks, challenging traditional assumptions of self-interest. Yet these models maintain instrumental, value-free, and individualist principles of rational choice, reducing cooperation, trust and solidarity to a means for satisfying individual preference and ensuring market efficiency. Thus they overlook the influence of the broader social and institutional context within which individuals and groups interact and which is characterized by diverse and conflictual interests, power and inequality, social and political struggles.
In this way, we fail to see that not all norms and networks are socially beneficial. For instance the current crises have fostered increasing poverty and inequality, the rise of extremist groups, the flux of immigrants and refugees, and the spread of uncertainty, fear and violence. There are groups in the private and public spheres that still promote policies that lead to market liberalization, welfare state retrenchment, the indebtedness of households and nations, the over-exploitation of the earth’s natural resources, and the degradation of certain ethnic and racial groups. At the same time, there are groups that resist these forces, raise social awareness and propose alternative values and networks for the restructuring of markets and states in order to protect the natural environment, human rights, justice and public welfare. These groups range from social movements spanning across countries to local organizations, especially in the social economy, mobilizing to respond to their community’s needs for subsistence and self-determination.
Thus we would like to invite contributions that re-contextualize conceptions and measures of social capital to incorporate the complex reality of social relations, as a dynamic space where people interact, define and pursue, individually and collectively, principles and objectives, means and ends for well-being. The aim is to uncover the dynamics of trust, cooperation and collective action to promote alternative principles and visions about the economy and society that favour public welfare. But we also encourage contributions that generally address the topic of social capital. We welcome works that derive from various social science disciplines and use different units of analysis (individual, regional, country or cross-country level), methodologies and techniques (theoretical, empirical, qualitative and quantitative).