SOCIAL CAPITAL AND PUBLIC POLICY
Th e primary goal of this paper is to improve the understanding of the notion of social capital, and identifi cation of its place in the academic fi eld and public policy. Concept of social capital was formed in the late XX century, and it wasn’t long before it reached immense popularity in academic circles and political practice. Social capital consists of social structure elements such are networks, norms, values, and trust, which enable cooperation and mutually benefi cial interaction of various subjects. Division of social capital into bonding, bridging, and linking capital is widely accepted. Bonding social capital implies family, close friends, and neighbors, while the bridging encompasses weaker connections of similar people, for example among acquaintances and colleagues. Linking social capital refers to the connections between civil society and the state, i.e. citizens and decisionmakers. Social capital has become a factor in public policy and a constituent of many political action programs. Use of social capital, as an instrument of public policy, can be observed in programs of social policy, educational policy, economic policy, security policy, etc. In Balkan countries social capital has not been accepted as a complete concept, and it has not been developed as a state’s project with adequate infl uence on public policy making and implementation in diff erent areas of social life. Multiple studies have established that the general level of social capital is higher in developed western democracies than in post-communist states. Economic development and quality of institutions are the main reasons. Researchers in post-communist states point out the signifi cance of social trust and the necessity of governments promoting and improving social capital using well-devised public policies. A slow process of transition and modernization is underway in Serbia, causing a social capital defi cit. It is necessary to build a civil society infrastructure by expanding the networks of civil institutions, initiatives, and associations. It would also be preferable to develop adequate political culture, which would mean adoption of democratic values. The general level of social capital is low in Serbia, which is especially illustrated by indicators showing a low level of trust, frugal participation in civil associations and a high level of corruption. It is necessary for public policy-makers to better understand the vital signifi cance of social capital because it can notably contribute to social community’s welfare. Additional studies of social capital are needed in Serbia, in order to contribute to elevation of the level of awareness of its signifi cance, and to foresee public policy mechanisms which would encourage strengthening of various social capital aspects.