The Myth of Social Capital in Community Development

Housing Policy Debate, 12(4): 781-806, 2001

By: , James Defilippis
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Social Equity

This article critiques Robert Putnam’s interpretation of social capital, which is foundational for much community development practice today. It exposes the flaws in viewing social capital as something that can be possessed, as something that is generally positive, and as something that is stripped of its connection to economic capital. It urges community development practitioners to center power in their approach to building social capital, with the goal of redistributing power through tools like community land trusts and community development credit unions.