What Are the Two Dimensions of Social Capital According to the Social Capital Theory?


Vincent White

When it comes to understanding social capital, the Social Capital Theory provides valuable insights. According to this theory, social capital can be broadly classified into two dimensions: bonding social capital and bridging social capital. These dimensions play a significant role in shaping relationships and fostering community development.

Bonding Social Capital:

Bonding social capital refers to the connections and relationships that exist within homogeneous groups or individuals who share similar characteristics such as ethnicity, religion, or socio-economic status. These connections are often characterized by strong ties and a sense of trust and reciprocity.

Bonding social capital is essential for:

  • Building a sense of belonging and identity within a specific group.
  • Providing emotional support, solidarity, and mutual assistance.
  • Fostering cooperation and collaboration among individuals with shared interests.

Bridging Social Capital:

In contrast to bonding social capital, bridging social capital focuses on the connections that occur between diverse individuals or groups from different backgrounds or communities. Bridging social capital is characterized by weak ties that facilitate the exchange of information, resources, and opportunities across various networks.

Bridging social capital plays a crucial role in:

  • Promoting diversity, inclusion, and cross-cultural understanding.
  • Facilitating access to new knowledge, ideas, and different perspectives.
  • Supporting innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic development through the exchange of resources and expertise.

The Interplay Between Bonding and Bridging Social Capital:

Both bonding and bridging social capital are important for individual well-being as well as community resilience. While bonding social capital strengthens intra-group cohesion and provides a sense of support and security, bridging social capital expands social networks and fosters connections between different groups.

It is important to note that:

  • Excessive reliance on bonding social capital can lead to insularity and exclusion, limiting exposure to diverse perspectives and opportunities.
  • Overemphasis on bridging social capital without nurturing bonding social capital may result in weak ties that lack trust and reciprocity.


In summary, the Social Capital Theory identifies two dimensions of social capital: bonding social capital and bridging social capital. Bonding social capital strengthens relationships within homogeneous groups, fostering a sense of belonging and cooperation.

Bridging social capital, on the other hand, connects diverse individuals or groups, promoting diversity, innovation, and access to resources. Both dimensions are crucial for building strong communities and facilitating individual growth. Striking a balance between bonding and bridging social capital is key to leveraging the full potential of social connections.