3rd August 2011: Social Capital; Fancy words for working together by Alex Dunedin

leith on the fringe

During the Edinburgh International Festival of August 2012 twenty two talks were given at Leith on the Fringe at the Out of the Blue venue.  They were free and open to everyone…


Name of speaker and subject:

Alex Dunedin

Title of talk:

Social Capital – Fancy Words for Working Together

Bullet points of what you would like to cover:

  • Social Capital – what is it
  • Why is trust important for communities to function
  • Economics and Social Capital
  • Cooperation between competitors
  • Why inclusive networks are important

Websites and/or texts where further information may be found:

A few words about you and your passion:

I have been a research secretary for some years and have collaborated on various projects.  Over the last two years I have been dedicated to starting and developing the Ragged project which gets people to sharing their knowledge in social environments such as pubs, cafes and libraries.  When studying social issues I discovered that Social Capital is a hotly discussed topic vital for many aspects of happy, healthy and not hungry communities.  I am keen to talk about what inclusive Social Capital means and what it’s practical benefits are in community, education, economic and arts terms.

A few lines about the history of your subject:

Social Capital is a simple complex issue.  Brought into light in modern times, most famously by Robert Putnam of Harvard Political School of Sciences, it has been suggested as a vital ingredient for stable economies, efficient local government, effective education, healthy communities, and a happy society.  Many of these issues are being explored in debates which try to analyse just what is Social Capital.  The history of ‘the benefits of being a part of a network which acts as a free resource to those involved’ might be traced back to Alexis de Tocqueville, David Hume or even Aristotle; The Economist magazine discuss this issue in terms of how Social Capital equates to trust; John Field sums it up as ‘Relationships matter’.  I am going to talk about the tangible realities which make up this old and new question of how we live together.

Anything else you may want to say:

Cooperative Development Scotland is an organisation which fosters and facilitates Social Capital in the modern business environment.  They help bring businesses together to work in a cooperative fashion so that the benefits of good working relationships can be tapped into.  I am going to cover in my talk how cooperation, even amongst competitors in the same marketplace, bring great rewards all round.