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The argument that governments must intervene to create social capital is comprehensively refuted

Many social democrats believe that the failure of past government interventions in social and economic life can be explained by the absence of social capital, and that government must intervene to create that social capital. This argument is comprehensively undermined in this Hobart Paper. The authors argue that government attempts to undertake ‘cultural planning’ to create social capital are subject to exactly the same problems that led economic and industrial planning to fail. In order for democratic systems to work, they must be limited to co-ordinating certain core political functions. Markets will generate attributes such as trust and non-discrimination, which are necessary to oil the wheels of both commercial and political society.

This monograph is essential reading for all economists, sociologists, political scientists and anthropologists whose work brings them into contact with the social capital literature.

2007, Hobart Papers 161, ISBN 978 0 255 36592 5, 107pp, PB

See also The Ethics of the Market by John Meadowcroft, available for purchase from the IEA.

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