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The social distancing mandated by the coronavirus pandemic, along with its other dislocations, has highlighted for many the importance of ‘social capital.’ Bank of England Chief Economist Andy Haldane defines the term as referring to “the network of relationships across communities support and strengthen societies.”1 [See also our Preamble] Unsurprisingly, Haldane’s sociological emphasis is consonant with that of the sociologist Nan Li who, in turn, adopts an economics-oriented stance: “The premise behind the notion of social capital is simple and straightforward: investment in social relations with expected returns,” he writes.2

For the economist and the sociologist alike, social capital is an umbrella term that emphasizes three key factors: the networks,  trust, and norms  for behavior that bind groups in reciprocally collaborative and beneficial ties.

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