SOCIAL CAPITAL AS A STRATEGIC CHOICE
SOCIAL RELATIONS FORM THE BASIS of social capital, and they are the focus of this chapter. Social capital shapes a field of strategic play that aids in the survival of households and families. But this does not mean that all social relationships are merely strategic: most people are not consciously calculating or cynical in everyday life. Nevertheless, on the basis of friendship, compadrazgo, and basic good will, Colonia Hermosa residents have come together to create bonds that further community, and by doing so, they have formed social connections that help families with day-to-day expenses and support. In the early years of colonia development, and as recently as the year 2000, such relationships have remained part of the safety net that helps to support residents, although most support these days comes from the extended family.
As part of a system of strategic choices, social relationships are not used in the kind of cold calculation that we imagine is central to corporate life or government activities. However, many personal relationships, such as compadrazgo or even neighborhood support between women, have embedded in them, as always, the expectation of mutual help, either between friends or within the traditional patron-client system of Mexico.
As one reads the stories of Colonia Hermosa residents, it is valuable to remember how, over a period of thirty years, the early, communitywide system of support through social relations and the exchange of social capital has changed qualitatively in both form and substance. Families now are much more insular in that they rely upon and often serve the strength of the natal unit. More important now is residents' social capital as it benefits the family. This is not meant to imply all social capital is ignored outside of the family. Certainly not. In the workplace,