Social capital "refers to the collective value of all "social networks" and the inclinations that arise from these networks to do things for each other." - Robert Putnam The term "capital" is used by analogy with other forms of economic capital.
Social capital can be thought of as being positive or negative. Horizontal networks of individual citizens and groups that enhance community productivity and cohesion are said to be positive social capital assets whereas self-serving exclusive gangs and hierarchical patronage systems that operate at cross purposes to communitarian interests can be thought of as negative social capital burdens on society.
The concept of social capital in a Chinese social context has been closely linked with the concept of guanxi.