دیدگاه روانشناسی تکاملی در مورد سرمایه اجتماعی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|4199||2009||11 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||8430 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Economic Psychology, Volume 30, Issue 6, December 2009, Pages 873–883
We present an evolutionary psychological perspective on social capital. We first suggest that evolutionary psychology provides the most ultimate (as opposed to proximate) theoretical definition and most theoretically driven measures of social capital, by providing a theory of values and specifying what human actors value and want. We then suggest that evolutionary psychology can illuminate certain cognitive constraints and biases to which human actors are subject in their attempt to seek the most efficient means to achieve their ultimate goal of reproductive success. We illustrate the utility of an evolutionary psychological perspective on social capital with its application to some empirical puzzles: Why women have more kin in their personal relationships than men do, and why we are closer to our maternal grandmothers than to our paternal grandfathers.
What is social capital? Capital is any resource that helps individuals produce or achieve some goal. Social capital inheres in relationships between individuals, just as physical capital inheres in physical objects and human capital inheres in humans. Thus social capital is any resource that inheres in relationships between individuals that helps them produce or achieve some goal. But what are individuals’ goals? What do humans want? Any resource can be capital depending upon the goal. If your goal is to run an efficient drugs market in your neighborhood, then guns and ammunition are important physical capital, the ability to distinguish between high-quality and low-quality drugs is important human capital, and connections to corrupt cops in the precinct are important social capital. None of these resources qualify as capital if your goal is to earn an MBA in Harvard Business School. If we don’t know what the goals of human behavior are, we don’t know what capital is (social or otherwise). And if we don’t know what it is, we can’t measure it precisely. The problem of defining social capital may therefore be largely a problem of values. We need a theory of values that explains what humans want in order to define what social capital is. Without it, any definition of social capital is likely to be ad hoc. Unfortunately, however, while some have made promising starts ( Hechter et al., 1999, Schwartz, 1992, Schwartz and Bilsky, 1987 and Wildavsky, 1987), there is presently no general theory of values that is widely accepted ( Hechter, 1992, Hechter, 1994 and Hechter et al., 1993). This is why nobody seems to know what exactly social capital is, or different people define it differently (Paxton, 1999). The lack of consensus on what social capital is has led researchers to define it in widely varied ways: participation in voluntary associations (Paxton, 1999, Paxton, 2002 and Putnam, 1995); voter turnout (Putnam, 1995); norm enforcement and social control (Coleman, 1988); trust (Coleman, 1988, Paxton, 1999 and Paxton, 2002); social network ties (Burt, 1998); family composition (presence of two biological parents; Portes, 2000); and “embedded social resources” (resources one can access through network ties; Lin, 2000). The lack of consensus has also led many empirical studies on social capital to contain sections called “Social Capital” or “What is Social Capital?” (Coleman, 1988, McNeal, 1999, Paxton, 1999, Paxton, 2002, Renzulli et al., 2000 and Schiff, 1992). Paxton (1999, p. 90) observes that “the term “social capital” is used in many recent articles but in vastly different ways.” We do not seem to have as much trouble defining physical or human capital as we do defining social capital, because the concepts of physical and human capital are often used in microeconomics and rational choice theory, where the human goals are narrowly defined economically (the maximization of individual utility, which practically often means wealth or income maximization). In contrast, scholars who discuss social capital have a wider view of social life than how economists view economic life, and do not always know what humans value in social life (even though they may know what humans value in economic life). What makes clear definitions of physical and human capital possible is economists’ clear definition of human values in economic life. Evolutionary psychology is currently a strong contender for a general theory of values (Ben-Ner and Putterman, 2000, Horne, 2004 and Kanazawa, 2001a). It is a general theoretical perspective that can explain the ultimate (as opposed to proximate) causes of human behavior, cognition, preferences and emotions. Evolutionary psychology can therefore theoretically define human goals, and thus social (as well as physical and human) capital. Evolutionary psychology is compatible with a variety of proximate theories of values and goals. In this paper, we present an evolutionary psychological perspective on social capital. Our aim is twofold. First, we suggest that evolutionary psychology provides the most ultimate (as opposed to proximate) theoretical definition and most theoretically driven measures of social capital, by specifying what human actors value and want. Second, we suggest that evolutionary psychology can illuminate certain cognitive constraints and biases to which human actors are subject in their attempt to seek the most efficient means to achieve their ultimate goal of reproductive success. We then illustrate the utility of an evolutionary psychological perspective on social capital with its application to one empirical puzzle: why women have more kin in their social networks than men do.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
We understand the appeal of focusing on the construct of social capital in order to understand social life. But because social capital inheres in relationships it is important to understand individual motivations for establishing and maintaining relationships in the first place. We therefore believe that an overemphasis on narrow empirical questions like “Does social capital reduce the odds of school drop out?” is largely misguided. The recent lament that social capital is in decline (Putnam, 1995) demonstrates a very narrow view of social life and a very short memory of human history. Americans today are upset to see that there are fewer and fewer nuclear families and that social institutions that we fondly recall from our youth (the welcome wagons, Boy Scouts, and bowling leagues) are on the wane. If we take a longer view of history, however, we soon realize that such institutions were only common for a relatively short period in our history. In earlier years, families were often torn apart – mothers died in child birth, children died from accidents and diseases, wars killed many young men. Boy Scouts and bowling leagues had not been invented. Throughout human evolutionary history, the nuclear family has been the exception, not the norm. The nature of social ties varies a great deal across space and time, and the reliance on any narrowly focused measures of “social capital” or positive life outcomes (such as school attendance) is likely to result in inconsistent empirical findings. In this paper we advance an evolutionary psychological perspective on social capital. We reiterate and emphasize our point that evolutionary psychology is but one perspective on social capital. It has the advantage of offering a clear definition of what social capital is from metatheoretical first principles, which few other perspectives can. However, we encourage others to propose their own theories and clear definitions of social capital, and subject competing hypotheses (including ours) to rigorous empirical tests. Apart from its ability to suggest a solution to an empirical puzzle of why women have more kin in their social networks, we believe an evolutionary psychological perspective on social capital has several distinct advantages: what, why, when, where, and how. First, an evolutionary psychological definition of social capital can finally tell us exactly what social capital is. While there has been a great deal of discussion of the concept, there currently appears to be no clear consensus as to what social capital is. This may be because one needs a theory of values in order to define capital (social or otherwise), and there presently is no widely accepted theory of values that explains what humans want. Second, an evolutionary psychological perspective, which is one of the current contenders for a general theory of values, can tell us why social capital is important, and, in a more general sense, why humans are social. While everyone recognizes that humans are social, they may not necessarily know why. From an evolutionary psychological perspective, humans (and members of many other species) are social because their sociality promotes reproductive success. Human sociality is largely how our ancestors survived long enough to reproduce and raise their offspring. That is why humans are social and that is why social capital is important for humans. Third, an evolutionary psychological perspective can tell us when and where we expect humans to maintain their social ties. While the perspective explains why humans are social, it does not predict them to be universally and indiscriminately social. Humans are social and maintain their social ties with others only when and where such ties help them attain reproductive success. They join bowling leagues and other local groups, if doing so ultimately promotes their reproductive success, but not if otherwise. Few other theoretical perspective can explain why most of us maintain closer ties to our maternal grandmothers than to paternal grandfathers, when the latter live closer to us than the former. Finally, an evolutionary psychological perspective on social capital, with its clear definition of the concept, can tell us precisely how to measure it at different times and in different places. It would strongly argue against using the same measure across time and places, because which relationships promote reproductive success can vary across time and places. An evolutionary psychological perspective suggests that we count as social capital only those relationships that, directly or indirectly, promote individuals’ reproductive success.