Social Capital and Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage: Theoretical Concepts of Departure and the Potential of Further Research

Daniel Drápala 1
  • 1 Department of European Ethnology of the Faculty of Arts of Masaryk University, , Arna Nováka 1, 602 00, Brno


This study discusses the use of the social capital concept in relation to the elements of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) and their safeguarding. The author proceeds from theoretical concepts which were employed by some researchers outside ethnological research (P. Bourdieu, Y. F. Fukuyama, R. D. Putnam and others) in the last decades. He highlights one of the basic principles of social capital, which consists of sharing the real and the potential sources, knowledge, and information, which an individual or a group of persons acquire through more or less institutionalized relations. Based on the experience from the national environment (Czech Republic) and an international organization (UNESCO) he contemplates to which extent it is possible to apply the theoretical foundations of social capital on the ICH, where the principle of sharing of and mutual respect to cultural elements is one of the basic theses. The discussion about the social capital concept in social sciences has until now shown how wide the spectrum of possible perspectives is. There is not the only possible determinant interpretation and field. The chosen theme, the methodology, and the discipline’s tradition contribute to different territorial and conceptual adaptations of social capital, which, however, also generates a potential of using this concept in the form of transdisciplinary research. This can be used, in the future, for the study of intangible cultural heritage.

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