Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Community Social Capital in Malaysia: A Pilot Study

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Community Social Capital in Malaysia: A Pilot Study

Article excerpt

Abstract

Social capital is a vital concept in identifying resources in the social network, which has the capability to be used to improve life quality and to facilitate the society development process. It emerges in the form of individual asset and needs to be analyzed through collective lifestyle or a community. An initial process has been explored to identify social capital components. The outcome is translated into an instrument comprising of six social capital components based on survey items and past studies namely participation in community activities, proactivity in the social context, neighborhood connections, multi-racial tolerance, a sense of trust and protection, and life values. A pilot study involving 41 respondents was carried out in several neighboring areas in the northern part of Malaysia. The study results show that all six components have a high internal reliability value. These components of social capital are categorized into three levels namely low, moderate and high. The findings demonstrate that the majority of the four components are at the high level. They are participation in community activities, neighborhood connections, multi-racial tolerance, and, a sense of trust and protection whereas majority of the respondents for the components of proactivity in the social context and life values is at the moderate level.

Keywords: social capital, community, society

1. Introduction

Social capital is a concept related to the resources available in an individual or a community. It is an aspect which possesses the attributes of altruistic values shaped and utilized based on collective cooperation and benefit, that it is able to be molded at reasonable cost and with convenience, and that it has the potential to make various tasks and work easier. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), social capital is defined as "Networks together with shared norms, values and understandings that facilitate co-operation within or among groups." (OECD, 2001, p. 47; cited in Franke, 2005, p. 3). Krishna (2002) maintains that social capital serves as an individual and collective asset that can help improve the process of collective actions. Following Franke (2005), the importance of social capital can be seen when international bodies like World Bank, OECD, Asian Development Bank and Inter-American Development Bank make social capital one of the main policies due to its great potential in materializing the implementation of any given policy.

Social capital is said to have great potential when it can be adopted to identify the existing resources in the social network, and further improving life quality and ensuring that the development process can continue. Realizing this, several methods of measurement and instrument have been developed by various parties who have come to admit its potential and significance, such as the Social Capital Assessment Tool (SOCAT) produced by World Bank (Grootert & van Bastelaer, 2001, 2002), The Siena Group Social Capital Indicators (Zukewich & Norris, 2005), Australian Social Capital Framework and Indicators (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2004) and General Household Survey 2005 (Office of National Statistics, United Kingdom, 2006).

Based on previous works, Lin (2001) explains that social capital is constituted by resources contained in the social network which comprises of two important components, namely (1) that it represents resources contained in social relationships, and (2) access and the use of the resources contained within the individual concerned. Knack (2002) defines social capital as a value, norm, an informal network and the membership in an association that will leave an impact to the capacity of an individual to work and fulfill his or her general aim. Apart from that, social capital is also interpreted as a situation whereby an individual can take advantage of his or her membership in an association in the network to obtain benefit (Sobel, 2002). …

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