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Abstract

Social capital in the past two decades has emerged as a dominant paradigm in the various social science disciplines. However, its adoption by the different social science disciplines has led to multiple and often conflicting definitions of social capital. Some differences in the definition of social capital can be explained because scientists have included in the definition expressions of its possible uses, where it resides, and how its service capacity can be changed. This paper defends the social capital metaphor by pointing out that social capital has many important capital-like properties including service potential, durability, flexibility, substitutability, opportunities for decay (maintenance), reliability, ability to create other capital forms, and investment (disinvestment) opportunities. Social capital is compared to other forms of capital including cultural capital and human capital. Keywords: social capital, cultural capital, human capital, physical/financial capital, service potential, durability, flexibility, substitutability, decay (maintenance), reliability, investment (disinvestment)

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