Social capital and its development tools – presentation of I. Baumane from the University of Latvia

On 15th of January in terms of this project we organized a workshop in Riga discussing different social capital related topics (see the detailed event programme).

The workshop started with presentation/lecture of Dr. Ilona Baumane-Vitolina from the University of Latvia. The topic of her presentation was “Economic value of social capital” discussing topics like:

  • Different levels of analysis.
  • Measurement problems.
  • The role of social capital in diffusion of innovations.
  • Difference between structural and relational social capital.
  • Developing social capital skills on interpersonal level.
  • Basics of networking and successful communication.
  • Social capital building Toolkit (developed by Harvard University) , including discussion “What tools can be used for building social capital in youth sector?”

The workshop was concluded with a practical activity “Generating plan with social development tools for the social capital development in youth community” (“Events”; “IT tools”; “Challenges”).

The presentation slides are available here: Social Capital_seminar_slides.

Dr. Ilona Baumane-Vitolina also suggests the following literature for those who are interested in further deepening their knowledge about the social capital topic (download the list as PDF):


1. Christakis, N. A., & Fowler, J. H. (2009). Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives.

The first TED talk that we had in a workshop was by author of this book.
In Connected, the authors explain why emotions are contagious, how health behaviors spread, why the rich get richer, even how we find and choose our partners. Intriguing and entertaining. Connected overturns the notion of the individual and provides a revolutionary paradigm-that social networks influence our ideas, emotions, health, relationships, behavior, politics, and much more. It will change the way we think about every aspect of our lives.

2. Gladwell, M. (2000). The tipping point: How little things can make a big difference. Boston: Little, Brown.

This was mentioned several times through the workshop. It is not purely on social capital, but on the diffusion of ideas and innovations.
The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate. This widely acclaimed bestseller, in which Malcolm Gladwell explores and brilliantly illuminates the tipping point phenomenon, is already changing the way people throughout the world think about selling products and disseminating ideas.

3. Goulston, M. (2009) Just listen: Discover the secret to getting through to absolutely to anyone.

This is a gorgeous book on empathy and development of listening skills that will lead to behavioural change. If you need to deal with angry people this is must read.
Do you ever feel like you’re talking to a brick wall? The first step in persuading anyone to do anything is getting them to hear you out. But whether the person is a cynical colleague, furious customer, or overwhelmed spouse, their emotional barriers may be blocking your message. And if you can’t break through, you can’t move forward. Just Listen has helped tens of thousands of people tear down walls and establish productive communication. In this landmark book, veteran psychiatrist and business coach, Mark Goulston reveals simple, proven techniques for moving people from resistance to consensus, explaining how to: listen effectively; make even a total stranger – perhaps a potential client – feel “felt”; shift an angry or aggressive person into a calmer, more receptive state; use empathy jolts to quickly bridge communication gaps; turn negative people into assets using the “Magic Paradox” Achieve buy-in, the linchpin of all negotiation, persuasion, and sales. Barricades between people become barriers to success and happiness, so getting through is not just a fine art – it’s a crucial skill. With Just Listen, readers learn how to transform the “impossible” and “unreachable” people in their lives into true allies, loyal customers, and lifelong friends.

4. Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. New York: Bantam Books.

Social skills start with emotional intelligence. Daniel Goleman is a founding father of the concept. He has many newer books, but this is the basic to get introduced to topic.
Everyone knows that high IQ is no guarantee of success, happiness, or virtue, but until Emotional Intelligence, we could only guess why. Daniel Goleman’s brilliant report from the frontiers of psychology and neuroscience offers startling new insight into our “two minds”—the rational and the emotional—and how they together shape our destiny. Through vivid examples, Goleman delineates the five crucial skills of emotional intelligence, and shows how they determine our success in relationships, work, and even our physical well-being. What emerges is an entirely new way to talk about being smart. The best news is that “emotional literacy” is not fixed early in life. Every parent, every teacher, every business leader, and everyone interested in a more civil society, has a stake in this compelling vision of human possibility.

1. Sander, T., & Lowney, K. (2006). Social capital building toolkit (version 1.2).Cambridge, MA: John F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

This article was the basis of social capital development on community level that we discussed at the end of the seminar.

2. Granovetter, M. S. (1973). The strength of weak ties. American journal of sociology, 1360-1380.

This is classical article on the social capital explaining the week ties concept

3. Coleman, J. S. (1988). Social capital in the creation of human capital. American journal of sociology, S95-S120.

This is another classical article on social capital.

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