Friday, December 17, 2021

Vertical and Horizontal Social Capital

I participated in a webinar today hosted by the Social Capital Research Group. The featured speaker was Joseph D. Lewandowski, an expert on social capital and social poverty.

In his presentation Dr. Lewandowski introduced the following terms:

- Horizontal social capital is resources (networks of social trust and connections) that are accessible and appropriable within a specific socioeconomic or cultural stratum. 

- Vertical social capital is resources (networks of social trust and connections) that are accessible and appropriable between and among various socioeconomic and cultural strata

I've been interested in social capital for many years and on this blog you can find 31 articles (now 32) tagged #socialcapital.  You can also find a section on my website devoted to this idea.   

I've supported volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs for more than 40 years because of how they expand the "who you know" network of kids living in areas of highly concentrated poverty.  They also expand the network for volunteers who get involved.  The graphic I show above is a picture of my Facebook network which has grown as a result of the work I have done with inner city kids and the Tutor/Mentor Connection. 

However, the articles I've been following talk about "bridging, bonding and linking" social capital.  Dr. Lewandowski introduces the ideas of "horizontal and vertical" social capital within the context of "social poverty".  I finished reading this article today. 

One of the conclusions is "it is the task of civil society-based mediating groups to self consciously create vertical social capital where it does not exist, and to use this resource to influence legislation and policy when appropriate."

This is a message I've delivered regularly since becoming a leader of a volunteer based tutor/mentor program in 1975 and forming the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993.  Leaders from ever sector need to be involved in creating places where people from different social, racial and economic, groups, both  horizontal and vertical, can connect in build relationships over a period of months, and  years.

I feel that volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs like the ones I led and like many others that operating in Chicago are ideal places to build such connections.  However, leaders of these programs need to do much more to educate volunteers about issues facing children and families in high poverty, and to motivate them to take actions beyond their weekly commitment as a tutor and/or mentor.  This has to be intentional.

As I read Dr. Lewandowski's article I was thinking of this pdf presentation where I talk about "vertical and horizontal networks.  

I invite you to read this an other articles that I've tagged #socialcapital, then offer your thoughts. Let's connect on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram and try to draw more people into this conversation and into actions that build and sustain mentor-rich youth programs reaching k-12 kids in all high poverty areas of Chicago and Ameria. 

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