Religion as Social Capital: Producing the Common Good


The notion of social capital--those features of social organization that facilitate working and cooperating together for mutual benefit--has gained considerable prominence since the publication of Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. While attention has been given to social capital, little has been given to religion's role in generating social capital. This is all the more ironic, given that religion constitutes the most common form of voluntary association in American today. Featuring essays by prominent social scientists, this is the first book-length systematic examination of the relationship between religion and social capital formation and what effects religious social capital has on democratic life in the United States today. This volume first casts the analysis of religious social capital within the larger discussion of social capital. It then assesses the nature of religious social capital, the extent to which it is distinct from or mirrors other forms of social capital, and the consequences that flow from its presence. It examines religion's role in fostering charitable contributions, volunteer activities, civic engagement, and political participation. In addition, it analyzes the ways in which particular contexts help to shape and modify such relationships. Finally, the volume addresses both the limits of religious social capital as well as its potential in fostering a more democratic society.

Additional information

Includes content by:
  • Corwin Smidt
  • Ram A. Cnaan
  • Stephanie C. Boddie
  • Gaynor I. Yancey
  • John A. S. J. Coleman
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Waco, TX
Publication year:
  • 2003


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