Taming The Social Capital Hydra?




Hunter, Boyd

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Charles Darwin University


The second labour of Heracles, the epic struggle with the Hydra, is used as a metaphor for the difficulties that may be encountered in analysing and measuring social capital. In Greek mythology, the Hydra ‘had a prodigious dog-like body, and eight or nine snaky heads, one of them immortal. In a sense, social capital is the intellectual equivalent of the Hydra in that it is conceptualised in many different ways. The unquestioning adoption and application of social capital rhetoric is potentially harmful, especially if it distracts policy makers from the real causes of Indigenous poverty and ongoing social exclusion. This article outlines the conceptual and empirical issues that are likely to plague attempts to measure social capital. After discussing some possible roles for social capital in describing Indigenous poverty, the article advocates a modest conceptualisation of social capital that focuses on the structure of social networks.





Learning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social Contexts


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Open Access

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Learning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social Contexts by https://www.cdu.edu.au/northern-institute/lcj is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Open Access authors retain the copyrights of their papers, and all open access articles are distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License noted above, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the license is given, and any changes are indicated.


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