Abstract

The social capital theory has some conceptual vulnerability related to the specificity of social phenomena it deals with. Having economic origins the social capital theory borrowed some controversial sociological concepts. Nowadays, the entire spectrum of different forms of social interactions can be attributed to social capital. Nonetheless social phenomena are not always “comprehensible” in economic terms (investments, desire of wealth etc.). Individuals often may be characterized as altruistic and non-reflexive. In this situation the original meaning of the term «capital» is lost. There is a conceptual mixture of incompatible phenomena in social capital theory which some economists and sociologists simply reject. Hence the article considers some attempts to translate social capital theory into the language of economists. It is possible by striking out some conceptual aspects related to altruism and sympathy. The author argues that capital is always a result of targeted investments. On the basis of existing approaches the author proposes his own conception of social capital. He criticizes the approach according to which social capital appears exclusively on the basis of rational exchanges between individuals. Thus the article preserves the economic logic of the term “social capital” without losing some sociological content. Particular attention is paid to the notion of “social meanings”. According to the author, social capital may be a result of the individual manipulation of shared values and meanings, as well as a set of purposefully formed self-images.

Keywords: investment, social meanings, social capital theory