Year: 2021 Source: Journal of the Community Development Society. (2002). 33(1), 33-52. SIEC No: 20210257

Concepts and research from community psychology can inform community development practice by reframing social capital theory. Social capital (SC) is generally defined and measured at the interpersonal, community, institutional, or societal levels in terms of networks (bridging) and norms of reciprocity and trust (bonding) within those networks. SC should be analyzed in a multi-level ecological framework in terms of both individual psychological and behavioral conceptions (sense of community, collective efficacy—or empowerment, neighboring, and citizen participation) and institutional and community network-level conceptions. Excessive concern for social cohesion undermines the ability to confront or engage in necessary conflict, and thus, it dis-empowers the community. Instead of emphasizing social cohesion, “network-bridging” opportunities to increase power, access, and learning should be emphasized. Institutional and community network analysis shows how SC operates at those levels and where to target service resources and develop mediating structures. Psychological and behavioral factors point to factors that motivate individuals to engage in building SC and methods to maintain and improve that engagement.