This paper has been written for Elinor Ostrom and Toh-Kyeong Ahn, eds., Social Capital: A
Reader (forthcoming, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK). The idea of social capital sits awkwardly in contemporary economic thinking. Even though it has
a powerful, intuitive appeal, it has proven hard to track as an economic good. Among other things, it is
fiendishly difficult to measure. This isn’t because of a recognised paucity of data, but because we don’t
quite know what we should be measuring. Comprising different types of relationships and engagements,
the components of social capital are many and varied and, in many instances, intangible.