In this essay I will discuss three major points concerning social capital. First, I will state whether my community is rich in social capital, then provide evidence of why it is or isn't. Second, I will explain the factors that are responsible for the continuance or decline in social capital. And third, I will talk about what realistic policies I would pursue to foster or sustain social capital in my community. Let me begin by explaining what social capital is. Social capital can be simply defined as connections among individuals. It refers to institutions and relationships that shape the quality of a society's social interactions. Interaction enables people to build strong communities and to commit themselves to each other. Some examples of interaction would be serving on city council, PTA's, community groups, sports teams, etc.
Social capital is based on the interaction, connection, and levels of trust individuals have with each other.
Without programs or activities that provide interaction, connection, or the building of trust, then the social capital of that community decreases. But the availability of programs doesn't always determine social capital. Instead, the people in that community must be willing to take part in any activities or programs that are available.
The social capital in my particular community, the city of Springfield, is in decline. For example, involvement in politics such as voting has declined over the past four years. In one study done it showed that in 2000, Springfield had a voter turnout of about 23,000, a number that used to be in the upper 30's just four years prior to that. The percentage of people who participate in religion has also decreased from 59% in 1990 to 42% in 2000. Participation in religion contributes to the decline in social capital because...