Social capital is the shared values, norms, trust, and belonging that make social exchange possible within or among groups. Social capital has been linked to educational attainment, public health, lower levels of crime, economic and business performance, career success, innovation, and many other benefits. This has been supported by work undertaken by Mildura Rural City Council in the early 2000’s. (Kinnear, S., Charters, K., Vitartas, P., (Eds) Regional Advantage and Innovation, Achieving Australia’s National Outcomes, Physica-Verlag, Springer 2013)
Social capital can be measured at an individual or a community scale. At a community level social capital can enhance peoples’ sense of influence and agency. In this sense social capital facilitates local empowerment and encourages societal institutions to exist and maintains the coherence of society.
Increasingly place based initiatives and local agency are being recognised as important elements of economic development.
In Robert D. Putnam’s famous book of 2000 ‘Bowling Alone, The Collapse and Revival of American Community’, the author goes so far as to attribute a large part of the success of Silicon Valley in the United States to formal and informal co-operation between start-up companies in the area.
This action agenda will consider the features of individual social capital social relationships and social structures, and how developing these features can improve the economic, social, and individual well-being of a region.