Vi hilser da på hinanden...: Social kapital i en dansk udkantskommune

  • Gunnar Lind Haase Svendsen


Gunnar Lind Haase Svendsen: “But at least we greet each other“. Social capital in an outlying Danish municipality In recent years, many people living on social transfer incomes have moved to more outlying municipalities in Denmark. This includes Ravnsborg, a municipality situated in an outlying rural area in the northwest corner of the island of Lolland, about 150 kilometers southwest of Copenhagen. During the past two decades, the arrival of newcomers from Copenhagen, many of them fully dependent on these incomes, has lead to deterioration of an already overstretched municipal economy, resulting in tensions between groups of local people and the newcomers. This raises the question of the human and economic consequences of the confrontations between these two groups. In order to analyze this issue, fieldwork and interviews were carried out employing a bridging/bonding social capital theoretical framework. The study revealed both a physical and mental gulf between the local residents and the newcomers, especially between the “locally born“ and “Copenhageners“ living on income transfers. The mutual distrust and distance – increased by gossip, negative media reports and symbolic violence, led to group isolation and to an “oppose each other“ attitude, summed up as exaggerated binding social capital. The article focuses on the role of open and inclusive as opposed to closed and exclusive networks, which involves a qualitative focus on the positive side of social capital, as well as its “downside“. Such a qualitatively oriented, sociological approach can be seen as relatively new within research on social capital that has been dominated by macroeconomic and quantitative approaches.