How We Work - The Model - Five Types of Capital - Indexes - Work Principles 

Five Types of Capital

The aim of Bridge to the Future is to develop a practical model for communities. As part of this work, we are trying to formulate assays for evaluating renewal and sustainability at various stages of intervention.

The comprehensive community renewal index makes use of  five types of capital (human, social, political, economic and infrastructure). At the starting point, are used to identify the changes necessary, and to monitor the effectiveness of the various intervention processes until their completion (and afterwards).

Experience has taught us that the different types of capital are interconnected and affect one another. For example – any attempt to strengthen the human capital (the employment of women), that does not take the social capital into consideration (the extent to which the community is prepared for women to work outside the community), may well cause the project to fail. There are also many other links, such as the effect of access to transportation (infrastructure capital) on the community's sense of belonging to the country and to the region (social capital).

The premise on which the model is based is that a well-established community manages its affairs, while maintaining a balance between types of capital, and can independently strengthen each of the types of capital in a way that affects the other types.

Following is a conceptual diagnosis of the five types of capital:

Human Capital

This term relates to the extent to which every individual in the community is realizing his potential. This capital includes observation of the individual's ability, the sum total of the knowledge, talent, ability and attributes that enable a person to attain personal, social and economic wellbeing.

Human capital puts the emphasis on individual development, making the most of one's abilities and the maintenance of permanent frameworks to promote this.

Social Capital

The term social capital includes:

  • Relationships between individual members of the community.
  • Characteristics and behavior patterns of a social organization (values, beliefs and norms) and social relationships that enable cooperation and action for the benefit of all.
  • Social relationships between individuals that enable community building, the fostering of involvement, and the development of trust and solidarity between community members.

Social capital relates to the relationships between individuals, that is, to the social links and norms of mutuality and trust between members, as they develop in social networks. The development of trust affects the other types of capital and has proved to be essential to any improvement in the education level, to the reduction of crime and to economic success.

The main values of social capital – trust, sense of community, solidarity.

A distinction is made between several types of social capital, and every community lies along a continuum for each of these types:

Bonding:  The continuum that measures the social cohesion of groups within the community and their openness to the inclusion of members in the group or their departure from it. This element expresses, among other things, the willingness to volunteer, to work in the community and the responsibility of individuals in the community towards other individuals.

Bridging – Moves along the continuum between being highly willing to foster dialogue, consensus and cooperation between groups in the community and closed groups that are not prepared for any dialogue between them.

Enabling – The level of freedom that groups in the community allow their members as opposed to the duty of obedience expected from an individual in the group. This element affects, among other things, the ability of community activists to mobilize, ad hoc, members of the community for promoting social and community issues.

Our experience in the field has shown us that this is the most important capital and that it has the greatest effect on the other types. Its influence is greatest on the human capital (the community's openness to accept what is different and to the individual's personal and economic fulfilment). It also has extremely strong links with the political capital. In effect, in no small number of cases, the political capital is the reflection of the social capital.

Economic Capital

Economic capital evaluates the current state and potential of:

The community's economic assets: the existence of economic infrastructures like industrial areas in addition to unexploited economic potential, like natural resources and minerals, academic and research institutions etc. The collective economic assets of the individuals: employment structure, human capital from the aspect of salaries and professional distribution.

The economic "import" and "export" patterns of the local residents. That is, what are its patterns of consumption: do most of the residents make their purchases within the community (import) or outside it, and how much money do local authority residents make from the purchases of those who live outside the community (export). It can be said in general, that in a disadvantaged community, the greater the flow of money into the community and the smaller the flow of money out of the community – the greater the community's existing economic capital and economic strength.

  • The financial state of the local authority
  • The authority's ability to recruit resources

From the community through compulsory taxes and the community's ability and willingness to invest additional economic resources. The existence of an effective mechanism for dealing with the recruitment of government and third sector resources.

Political Capital

Reflects the array of political forces within the community and the ability of these forces to conduct an effective dialogue between them. One of the main characteristics of disadvantaged communities is that community stagnation and the inability to move forward are not only attributable to despair and a sense of lack of ability, but are the result of strong internal political forces working against each other and incapable of reaching agreement on practically anything.

This situation leaves the community at a point of convenience – a balance between powers – that is for the most part bad for everyone and the community, with every shift (even a positive one) in it, upsetting the political balance and leading to opposition.

Political capital is measured, among other ways, by:

§  The community's political stability as reflected, among other ways, in elections to the local authority and the ability of coalition and opposition parties to cooperate with each other, in matters important to them both.

§  The pattern of fairness and the index of political corruption in the community and the ability of the elected authority to look after the interests of the community as a whole, and not only the narrow interests of their electors.

§  The amount of political influence of individuals and groups within the community to effectively represent their needs and interests to the central authority.

In the local authority's departments:

§  The ability of departments in the authority to hold a professional dialogue and to cooperate with each other.

§  The ability of the permanent institutions to conduct an open dialogue with the residents in a cooperative and non-paternalistic manner.

§  The level of employment stability of workers in the authority and the ability of its departments to select workers based on their ability and suitability and not on their political affiliations.

§  The ability of the authority's departments to make long-term plans and to execute them while striving for constant improvement.

§  The departments' ability to recruit and use resources effectively.

The strength of the political capital is assessed in the following ways:

§  By the ability of the authority to formulate a vision, to define objectives and to achieve them with a broad consensus.

§  By the ability to manage complex situations and reach agreement so as to make important decisions and follow them through.

§  By the attitude of residents to the authority and the permanent institutions.

The main element of political capital is broad agreement.

Note – this capital, its definition and the indexes for evaluating it are at the R &D stage as part of the renewal model being developed by Bridge to the Future.

 

Infrastructural capital

This capital reflects:

§  The overall potential of the natural infrastructures, like nature and scenery, minerals etc.

§  All the physical infrastructures, like transport, water, sewage and electricity.

§  Planning infrastructures, like the existence of an up-to-date outline plan for the industrial areas, tourism and development, as well as family and individual aspects, like building permits for private houses, the size of plots, building heights etc.

§  Regional infrastructures – infrastructures in nearby regions available for use by residents of the region.

§  Physical communal infrastructures like cultural, sport, educational and higher education facilities.

Possible implications: many people are unaware of the enormous influence this capital has on other areas. For example, the best pedagogical plan can fail because of the lack of a physical infrastructure of educational buildings. The extent to which transportation is available in the community can greatly affect the potential for demographic growth, the ability to find employment outside the region etc.