REL 74.08 Religion and Social Capital
Why are relationships important? Why does reputation matter? Why is community crucial? How does trust emerge? Is there something sacred about social bonds? This class explores the idea of social capital and its significance for analyzing culture and society. We first seek to grasp the idea of “capital” as applied to the social and relational world, examining why social theorists have found this a useful lens of analysis. What does it mean to have social and cultural capital? We then explore how and why human communal bonds are formed and whether such interactions might justifiable be called “sacred” or “religious.” We consider gifts and reciprocity as ways we forge human connection, exploring philosophical and anthropological reflection on these practices. We examine changes in how community bonds are formed in light of globalization and new technology. We review concerns about the loss of community and connection, and about the barriers to access and advancement faced by those with less social capital. We also consider religious and ethical reflection on social capital as applied to human and divine beings. Readings include Bourdieu, Durkheim, Grewal, Mauss, Putnam, Sunstein, and Volf.
Open to all classes.
Distributive and/or World Culture