Andy Blunden 2004

Social Solidarity versus
“Social Capital”


“Social capital” theory aims to extend the concepts and methods of economic science so as to subsume the political-economy of poverty under economics; what is needed on the contrary is a critique of economics which sheds light on the politics of poverty.

I. Foundations

The key concept for understanding the modern social crisis is the “Subject.” The dichotomy of individual versus community obscures the principal problem facing poor or marginalised people both individually and collectively – self-determination, i.e., gaining control over their own lives.

II. “Social Capital”

Jane Jacobs, James Coleman, Pierre Bourdieu, Robert Putnam and Francis Fukuyama each have quite distinct concepts of “Social Capital.” The general idea behind this investigation requires a critical appropriation of what each writer has to offer.

III. Social Solidarity

“Social capital” data can be better interpreted in the light of the concept of “subjectivity,” the precondition for which is “social solidarity.” Practical intervention to support the self-determination of stigmatised and impoverished groups requires the disaggregation of the concept of “social capital.”


Poverty should be conceived primarily as a political problem, not an economic problem.