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Thematic Issues
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The recent rise to prominence of the concept of "social capital" has led to this investigation of the subject.

While advocates of social capital highlight its potential to invigorate civil society and stimulate economic growth, there remains a lack of consensus amongst theorists, researchers and policymakers as to how best to define the concept, let alone accurately evaluate its impact at the level of the community. Despite widespread disagreement regarding the best means for mobilization of social capital in development programs, it has become a key aspect of recent World Bank social development initiatives. This has immediate implications for those societies involved in current World Bank programs as well as longer-term implications for other developing nations, as donors incorporate social capital interpretations and measures into their programs.

This article discusses the inability of existing conceptualizations of social capital to account for cultural distinctiveness, and the implications this has for social development programs attempting to foster the growth of social capital in the Asia-Pacific region. In particular, it examines the debates on ‘Asian Values’. It is argued that projects related to social capital need to adapt to the specific values and characteristics of any society they involve.


Social Capital - Asia - World Bank - Asian Values  


Rebecca McHUGH is currently an International Project Coordinator for UniQuest Pty Limited, the commercialization arm of the University of Queensland, Australia. She has worked as a Youth Ambassador for Development in Vietnam and as a Technical Advisor to the Ministry of Education in the Republic of Kiribati. She is currently undertaking her Master’s in International and Community Development at Deakin University in Melbourne. This article represents Rebecca’s first major body of research into Social Capital initiatives. She has a strong interest in alternative development approaches that enhance local participation and ownership of development projects and distribute benefits more equitably in recipient societies.

Raphael Jane PRASETYO is a Bachelor of Business and majored in Human Resource Management. She worked for the Queensland Education Department before becoming an Australian Volunteer Abroad. She worked in Indonesia for both large and small local NGOs and in the education sector. Since returning she has worked in Indigenous Australian communities and has completed a Master's degree in Social Administration at The University of Queensland. She also has strong interests in social capital theory and in communication technologies and the role they can play in global development. 


This article is based on a conference paper presented at the 2002 conference of the Asia-Pacific Sociological Association in Brisbane, Australia ("Asia-Pacific Societies: Contrasts, Challenges, and Crises"). 

It was written under the auspices of the Foundation for Development Cooperation. The FDC an independent, non-profit organization committed to strategic research, policy development and advocacy for sustainable development and poverty reduction in Asia and the Pacific.


All work published in The International Scope Review is subject to copyright and may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any manner or in any medium - unless written consent  is given by The Social Capital Foundation represented by its President, unless the author's name and the one of The International Scope Review as the first publication medium appear on the work or the excerpt, and unless no charge is made for the copy containing the work or excerpt.

Any demands for obtaining consent for reproduction should be sent to

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