On the Relationship between Social Capital and Individualism–Collectivism



Both social capital and individualism–collectivism (IC) have been, and still are, popular and well-researched constructs in social sciences. Many theorists have argued that individualism poses a threat to social cohesion and communal association. Other researchers believe that growth of individuality, autonomy, and self-sufficiency are necessary conditions for the development of social solidarity and cooperation. The present article reviews the studies on the relationship between social capital and IC, using different data and different measures. We conclude that countries with higher level of social capital (where people believe that most people can be trusted) are also more individualistic, emphasizing the importance of independence, personal accomplishments, and freedom to choose one’s own goals. In societies where trust is limited to the nuclear family or kinship alone, people have lower levels of social capital. Social capital increases as the radius of trust widens to encompass a larger number of people and social networks, bridging the ‘gap’ between the family and state.