Hi Geoffrey,

I guess really it all depends on your conception of what SC actually
is. The big question is really definition - it seems to me that many of
the writers on SC are defining the concept in terms of its flow-ons
(for example Fukuyama and trust) – but not in terms of what lies at the
core. If you conceptualise SC in terms of networks / connections then
the problems of gangs etc that you discuss really are only problems of
a lack of connectedness with the rest of the system. Anyway, I
apologise because I am going off on a tangent, in terms of your
question, there are a number of references on the downside of SC from a
wide range of disciplines that are fairly helpful. Regards, Louise

Kulynych, Jessica, and Stephen Samuel Smith. 2002. ‘It may be social,
but why is it capital? The social construction of social capital and
the politics of language’. Politics and society 30 (1): 149-186.

Adler, Paul, and Seok-Woo Kwon. 2002. ‘Social capital: prospects for a
new concept’. Academy of Management Review 27 (1): 17-40.

Levi, Margaret. 1996. ‘Social and unsocial capital: a review essay of
Robert Putnam’s Making democracy work’. Politics and Society 24 (1): 45-

Putzel, J. 1997. 'Accounting for the ‘dark side’ of social capital:
reading Robert Putnam on democracy'. Journal of International
development 9 (7): 939-949.

----- Original Message -----
From: Geoffrey Williams <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Tuesday, June 11, 2002 0:23 am
Subject: the social capital of street gangs and juntas

> Having been doing background reading on issues of
> social capital and development, it seems to me there
> are certain structures that could be described as the
> weeds of social capital - networks that form when no
> other forms of cooperation are present, and that then
> take control, strangling more benign structures.
> Examples include youth gangs, rogue military units,
> the mafia and bandits. They come in many different
> styles, but with a similar underlying structure -
> essentially a group of men, with very strong
> within-group bonds, and a predatory or hostile view of
> outsiders.
> The linchpin of these structures seems to me to be
> male bonding - by which I mean, the ability of men
> under pressure to form extremely strong bonds of trust
> and cooperation with each other and then act
> aggressively against others outside the group. Other
> forms of cooperation and networking are slower to
> form, and so get pushed aside in periods of chaos or
> uncertainty. The process could almost be compared
> with chemical reactions (here I have to fall back on
> my limited high school chemistry) - certain types of
> bonds between atoms are very quick to form, others are
> slower and less likely to happen, and the relative
> strengths dictate the resulting compounds.
> Could anybody recommend further reading along these
> lines? Especially research that looks at male bonding
> and social networks.
> Best,
> Geoffrey Williams