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Applied Sustainability Class 26: Social Capital & Collaboration
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Applied Sustainability Class 26: Social Capital & Collaboration

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  1. Applied SustainabilityClass 26: Social Capital & Collaboration P. Brian Fisher POLS 319 Spr2013

  2. Part I Putnam, Social Capital

  3. Social Capital • Social institutions and representative government are heavily influenced by norms and networks of civic engagement. • “Social Capital”: features of social organization such as networks, norms, and social trust that facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefit. • Social capital aids quality of community life because • 1. civic engagement fosters norms of reciprocity and social trust • 2. networks facilitate coordination and communication, amplify reputations • 3. when econ & political negotiation is embedded in networks of social interaction, incentives for opportunism are reduced • 4. Networks of civic engagement embody past success  template for future • 5. broaden the participant’s sense of self, developing ‘we’ into collective benefits

  4. Decline in Civic engagement • From a relative high point in the early 1960s, voter turnout had by 1990 declined by nearly a quarter • "in the past year" they have "attended a public meeting on town or school affairs" has fallen by more than a third (from 22 percent in 1973 to 13 percent in 1993) • attending a political rally or speech, serving on a committee of some local organization, and working for a political party • Every measure shows decline in American civic engagement, DESPITE sharp rises in education (the best single indicator of pol participation) • Lack of Trust  The proportion of Americans who reply that they "trust the government in Washington" only "some of the time" or "almost never" has risen steadily from 30 percent in 1966 to 75 percent in 1992

  5. Bowling Alone • Religious affiliation is by far the most common associational membership, but even that has declined and stagnated recently – but people becoming more indep about religion • Sharp declines in union membership and PTA • See declines in other prominent associations: Boy Scouts, Red Cross, fraternal orgs: Shriners, Elks, Masons, etc • Bowling Alone: more Americans are bowling today than ever before, but bowling in organized leagues has plummeted in the last decade or so. Between 1980 and 1993 the total number of bowlers in America increased by 10 percent, while league bowling decreased by 40 percent

  6. Counter trends and new orgs • 1st Trend: New organizations have been created during this same period, siphoning off some of the participation in other groups? • E.g. Sierra Club, AARP, NOW, Enviro Defense Fund • However, these “new” organizations are different. They lack social cohesion and connectedness. Few attend meetings or contribute to membership other than paying dues. • E.g. like being a sports fan – same interests, same team, but don’t know each other • 2nd Trend: proliferation of non-profits (e.g. Oxfam, Metro of Art, Ford Foundation)  yet these again are not socially connected memberships • 3rd Trend: Support groups (e.g. alcoholics Anon and self-help groups) • Definitely a form of social capital, but are diff from civic engagement membership

  7. Conclusion • more Americans than ever before are in social circumstances that foster associational involvement (higher education, middle age, and so on), but nevertheless aggregate associational membership appears to be stagnant or declining. • the most fundamental form of social capital is the family, and the massive evidence of the loosening of bonds within the family (both extended and nuclear) is well known. This trend, of course, is quite consistent with--and may help to explain--our theme of social decapitalization. • Americans are also less trusting. The proportion of Americans saying that most people can be trusted fell by more than a third between 1960, when 58 percent chose that alternative, and 1993, when only 37 percent did. • ** There is a strong correlation between social trust and civic engagement  globally the greater the density of the membership, the higher the trust • Trust and Engagement = social capital

  8. Why? • Women into the work force, less in orgs and less family time • Mobility  less vested in local neighborhood or community • Demographic transformations  more divorce, less marriage, fewer children, lower real income • Technological transformation of leisure time  privatizing or “individualizing” our use of leisure time  disrupts social capital formation  e.g TV, now mobile devices

  9. What Has to be Done? • In analyzing the structure of networks, "horizontal" ties represented more productive social capital than vertical ties • How does social media and internet offset these trends, where social capital is formed electronically? Social capital in workplace? • Shouldn’t overly romanticize the neighborhoods and civic mindedness of the ’50s because some was based on bigotry and discrimination, and based on “rent seeking” behavior or corruption • While new democracies spring forth from civic engagement, in the US the lack of civic engagement calls into question the effectiveness of democracy. • ** What does this say about sustainability? Sustainable Communities? What is the basis of sustainability? Does sustainability rely more heavily on social capital than other paradigms?

  10. Part II Necessary Revolution: Collaboration

  11. Smaller Networks >> Collaboration • Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has…” (Margaret Mead) • Add: “Depending on their ability to build larger networks” • “Bringing about significant changes in larger systems requires building similar networks connecting many different organizations, and even different types of organizations” (p225) • Among the most salient reasons we don’t look at problems SYSTEMATICALLY is that the insights would forces us out of our intellectual and institutional comfort zones. Unfortunately, we then also define away some of our greatest opportunities to address core sustainability challenges.” (p. 225) • Collaboration is the “human face” of systems thinking…

  12. Chap 15: Lessons & Examples • Randy Overby, Pres of Alcoa Primary Metals Development: “Collaboration is key for achieving scale” • To do this, means: • 1. need to build critical mass for change WITHIN an organization • 2. importance of connecting different organizations so the sum is greater than parts • Examples: Coke and WWF; WBCSD, CEO-led coalition of 200 global companies that account for 1/3 of world’s GDP  sustainability + health of environment; BMW and EU automakers • However, large-scale collaborations can also lead to lots of reports and no action  need to build across boundaries  cross-organizationally and cross-sector collaboration

  13. Process of Collaboration • ** “Collaborating is ultimately about relationships, and relationships do not thrive based on a rational calculus of costs and benefits, but rather because of genuine caring and mutual vulnerability” (p233) • Building this capacity is difficult and requires 3 capabilities: • 1.convening, • 2. listening, and • 3. nurturing shared commitment

  14. Chap 16: Convening >> Getting the system in the room • Need a “critical mass”, not necessarily only people in Sr. Leadership positions…as often those at the top of the institutional hierarchies have far too much invested in preserving the status quo…and they are often far too removed from the day-to-day realities to appreciate the diverse forces that must be understood to enable real change” (p. 234) • Most crucial aspect: convening a critical mass of people who are able to LEAD, or “getting the system in the room.” • “Extraordinary change requires extraordinary relationships”  Diversity (p235) • Getting everyone in the room is a step-by-step iterative process – requiring great patience and perseverance…and tremendous insight into “who needs to be engaged and when.” (p235) • Goal at CofC: 20% of population seeking change (Gladwell’sThe Tipping Point)

  15. Quick Tips to engage • Prepare • Opening: explain why you are there and what you’re interested in learning • Engaging: ask 2 simple Qs (open-ended) that give people time to reflect on their experience • Follow the flow: follow the flow of meaning in the conversation • Jumping off the bridge: Let go of what holds you back from connecting and move with the emotional state of the other person or people • Expand the network: If conversation is positive, ask who else would be interested in our topic or conversation build a network of like-minded people to “present themselves” • Closing: ask how to move forward

  16. Chap 17: Seeing Reality through Other’s Eyes • The more daunting the change necessary, the more sophisticated the collaboration skills must be of those leading the change. • Enviros fall into two camps: all issues are so self-evident that expect everyone to just jump on board, OR the chasm is so wide that they become cynical or demonize those with passion • Must operate in between and on collaborative networks around the “shared vision” • Three Primary Skills: Advocacy, Inquiry, and Disagreement • You need “protocols” for each approach

  17. 5 Steps to Opening Eyes • Bring together a diverse group of people, representative of group • Identify the different facets of the system you will explore • “go there together”; travel with the entire team on board • Set aside ample time to reflect and talk together about the experience • Pay careful attention to the intentions and commitments that arise from your reflection

  18. Chap 18: Building a Shared Commitment • Can be very challenging  shared commitment “arises through focusing first on engagement—connecting to what maters to you and the larger organizations involved—and then on creating the opportunity for both focus and commitment to deepen naturally over time” • Foster engagement, and let commitment develop • Connect with what matters to you and the organization • Create space for Intention and aspiration to grow  “all genuine commitment is to something larger than ourselves”

  19. Chap 18: Seeing each other • Innovation comes down to helping people recognize that seeing systems ultimately means seeing one another. • “opening minds and hearts starts the process of moving beyond our own views and agendas so that we can start to connect with one another and truly work together to create new systems.” • Embrace systems thinking and collaboration across boundaries provides an “opening of the will”