Civic Engagement & Social Capital in Action

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Moses volunteering
Moses volunteering

 

I would ask you to consider the following quotes about human interactions and networking, called civic engagement and social capital by educators. We will then evaluate these concepts and how they apply to volunteering and the health of those who participate.

Joining and participating in one group cuts your odds of dying over the next year in half. Joining two groups cuts it by three quarters.

We’re not experiencing a Springtime of volunteering, but an Indian Summer, propped up by our nation’s seniors — who have been more civic throughout their lives.

Each 10 minutes of additional commuting time cuts all forms of social capital by 10 percent–10 percent less church-going, 10 percent fewer club meetings, 10 percent fewer evenings with friends, etc.

Civic engagement and volunteering is the new hybrid health club for the 21st century that’s free to join and miraculously improves both your health and the community’s through the work performed and the social ties built.

These factoids are quoted from The Saguaro Seminar, Civic Engagement in America, Harvard/Kennedy School.

http://www.hks.harvard.edu/saguaro/socialcapitalprimer.htm

Social Capital is what is gained when people exercise their human network or as we used to call it, use “hook ups” to get either others to help with a project or locate something of value needed for an objective. Many military individuals were sent out to locate a “hook up” to get a much needed part, promising to return the favor in the future if he could, thus allowing a machine repair when the needed part was located through the network when the proper military channels were either inadequate or money was not available. Social capital is not confined to reciprocation of mutual aid or favors, but this is certainly one area where it thrives.

For historical perspective, this situation mentioned above happened way too often when we were building a 600 ship Navy during the cold war. Mechanics and electricians were frequently forced into “out of the box” part recovery efforts when money and parts were unavailable, yet the command structure wanted to get underway, no matter what. Without hook ups, many Navy ships would not have set sail on time in the 1980′s. Barter was common, with the most valuable trade good being a 5 pound can of coffee for many parts or services which were otherwise unsupported by the regular supply system.

Elaborate  systems and networks were formed which often spanned entire careers as enlisted sailors were promoted and transferred. The term social capital was not universal back then, but it was in use all the same. Connections with people who could provide services or parts were a necessary part of being a senior enlisted worker on both surface ships and submarines in my experience. Social connections could produce effects which the regular system could not or would not.

The person who could get the hook up through his network would now be considered to have high social capital and a raised status among his peers and his superiors. Their status raised as they were able to help their group function in an often defective world where money was not available and hook ups were the only commodity in use.

To be clear, social capital has been around for eons but the term social capital as it apples to civic engagement studies is relatively new. It took more than just showing up with coffee to get things in many cases, you had to know someone. You needed a network. Social capital is easier to evaluate in the civilian community today but it has had many uses in all of aspects of society, where ever their was a need.

Social Capital as it applied to civic engagement and volunteer groups was a central premise of the book, “Bowling Alone”, by Robert D. Putnam, a Harvard Professor. He showed through data analysis that many volunteer groups which had thrived after the WWII years were in sharp decline in members, which resulted in declines for the help and aid given to the charities that relied on the volunteer groups for so much support. Groups like the Freemasons, Elks, Moose, Lions, and many others were part of his over all studies in declining memberships.

The secondary value of this concept of networking and social capital with regard to volunteering on an individual basis is not only the ability to get things done but also the health benefits to those involved. The bottom line is that many studies have verified that their is strong evidence for the positive health benefits for those individuals who exercise passion in their networks and their volunteering. Even expanding your social network has beneficial health benefits some studies have shown.

Another positive aspect of social capital is the ability of social scientists to measure it. The Saguaro Seminar has bench marked survey results from 2000 and again from 2006 on the same communities, with demonstrated changes and trends shown in the final evaluation. This kind of data analysis demonstrates the impact that social capital and civic engagement can have on individuals and communities.

Volunteering produces many health benefits for the individual but also produces, when practiced by a passionate volunteer a much larger effect than most people would believe. This win-win benefit between the individual and the group seeing the volunteering can’t be ignored.

This is the ideal of the empowered volunteer. When an empowered volunteer embraces the passion for the group and shares the news with the world, many from that previously uninformed world will want to participate. Thus all involved benefit and everybody wins.

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65 thoughts on “Civic Engagement & Social Capital in Action

Jeff

I agree wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, many of these tenets are being forgotten (or ignored), by younger generations.

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Highlandviking54 Post author

Thanks for the comment Jeff. Please stop back frequently as I plan to keep writing on these subjects and hopefully we will make an impact!

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Highlandviking54 Post author

You are welcome for lunch! LOL, great to have such validating feedback. Please spread the message to others!

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Highlandviking54 Post author

The topic idea was generated in 2005 on paper, but it had existed for years before that. I have had the concept for many years before when I volunteered at some good groups in order to balance my frustrations with my job during the 80′s and 90′s. I will be writing about that aspect of the potential benefits in the relatively near future. This is one way to help your life if you are stuck in a job you where you have little autonomy, which research shows hurts your health. So check back and see when I write that post!

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Highlandviking54 Post author

Thanks for the great feedback. Social capital and emotional intelligence is the way of the future for civilized countries! We should see the uplifting messages within our life time. China just made a major policy changes that encouraged emotional intelligence teachings. It is the way towards peace and it is the way to unite companies into one single minded effort for the public good. It is also a healthier lifestyle.

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Autumn

I’m impressed, I must say. Rarely do I encounter a blog that’s both equally educative and engaging, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the
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Highlandviking54 Post author

I am glad you found the blog post worthy. Thanks for visiting and please tell your friends to frequent the site too. There is much more to come.

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Highlandviking54 Post author

Thanks for the kind words. I hope you visit EVRA soon and often Issac Maez. Additionally please share the posts you find worthy with your network using the social media buttons located on the top and bottom of each post. You can also get notices of the new posts by using the RSS button located on the top of the site, upper right hand side. The FaceBook button is right next to it. Enjoy and Welcome to EVRA!!!

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Highlandviking54 Post author

I am sorry but after this weeks spam attack I am a bit gun shy about anything like this. I really just want to do my research on the latest data sources for the empowered volunteer and to keep putting out great posts. I found your site interesting though.

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Highlandviking54 Post author

Welcome and please return often. Now that we have stopped the massive spam assault I can once again engage with real people. Please feel free to share this with your social media button of choice for any post you find worthy! Welcome again and thanks for stopping by.

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Highlandviking54 Post author

THanks for reading it. Return often. I will be posting frequently as my research continues.

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Highlandviking54 Post author

Thanks for the feedback. Working on it. We are back in control and making progress in shutting down the spam.

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Highlandviking54 Post author

I am glad you liked it. Welcome and return often for more empowered volunteer wisdom!

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Highlandviking54 Post author

Thanks for the kind words. Feel free to share a worthy post with your social media of choice through the social media buttons located at the top and bottom of each post too. Welcome and return often.

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Highlandviking54 Post author

Welcome, simply take the post and use the social media button to send the information to your network of choice! References to my posts are also fine.

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Highlandviking54 Post author

Welcome and thanks for stopping by. I am glad you like the information enough to share. Please considering sharing the entire post using the social media buttons on each post and then forwarding them to the social media of your choice for your network. I hope your find the site worthy or repeatedly returning in the future.

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Highlandviking54 Post author

Thanks for stopping by. Welcome and sign up for the weekly report so you don’t miss a post.

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