A critique of social capital

Int J Health Serv. 2002;32(3):423-32. doi: 10.2190/6U6R-LTVN-FHU6-KCNU.


This article critiques the concepts of communitarianism and social capital as used in the United States and in Europe. For the United States, the author focuses on Robert Putnam's understanding of both concepts, showing that the apolitical analysis of the Progressive Era, of the progressive developments in Northern Italy, and of the situation of labor unions in the United States is not only insufficient but wrong. The critique also includes the difference between U.S. communitarianism and its European versions, Christian democracy and New Labour, and the limitations of both approaches. The uses and misuses of these concepts in the political debate are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Capitalism*
  • Christianity
  • Civil Rights
  • Democracy*
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Labor Unions
  • Politics*
  • Public Assistance
  • Social Justice
  • Social Responsibility*
  • Social Welfare / trends*
  • Socialism* / economics
  • United Kingdom
  • United States