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HAT Forum - Trust & Social Capital; Proposer: Richard Dowsett

  • The 519 Community Centre, Room 304 or TBA 519 Church Street Toronto, ON, M4Y 2C9 Canada (map)

Social capital (SC) is the value of social networks. For an individual, SC is the value of their circle of friends, relatives and everyone who can be called upon to support that individual in all their endeavors. For a society, SC is the measure of the strength of all connections between its constituents - people, associations and institutions. Trust is the underlying fabric of society that makes all social, political and economic interchange simpler and more efficient. Trust facilitates the creation of SC and multiplies its strength. 

As Humanists, where do we stand on the concepts of Social Capital and Trust?


1.             What influences are leading Canada to lower levels of Social Capital and trust?

2.             Which comes first - strong, trusted institutions (education, government, courts, police, and leadership in cultural associations like religions, service groups or charities, corporations) or trust? 

3.             How does technology work to increase and decrease Social Capital for individuals and societies?

4.             "Free riders" can enjoy the benefits of social capital without trusting and sometimes even “con” the system to gain higher benefits. Too many free riders over time will erode SC and crash the system. Does this effect impose any duty on humanists to behave in a certain way?

5.             Where do you stand on trust? For you, do you think this opinion is based in nature or nurture? How does this attitude toward trust affect your personal level of SC?

Earlier Event: December 3
HAT Forum: Women in Politics
Later Event: December 17
HAT Forum: Sacrifice for Humanism