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Abstract

Social capital is the whole set of shared norms, values, attitudes, and beliefs that promote cooperation among individuals within the community and that has proved to be a key factor in explaining development processes. This article aims to provide an analytically reliable notion of social capital within the farming sector and a methodological tool for empirically measuring how social capital is accumulated at the farmer level. The theoretical framework proposed is based on the multidimensionality of the complex concept of social capital. Thus, to develop a comprehensive index for social capital, we identify three dimensions of the concept, structural, relational, and cognitive social capital, each one also comprising several subdimensions. This integrative approach permits creation of a composite indicator of the agricultural social capital accumulated at the farmer level, further identifying socioeconomic factors that influence its accumulation at that level. We empirically apply this methodological approach to farmers in Andalusia in southern Spain as a case study. This research provides an interesting starting point for informing policymakers about social capital and helping them implement the necessary programs to facilitate sustainable development in the agricultural sector.